Drury University, Springfield Public Schools and Yale University have joined to bring newfound success to some of Springfield's most challenged schools. The improvement is based on the Yale University Comer School Development Program created by Dr. James Comer. The Comer model creates a school environment dedicated to supporting children as they learn and grow:
The program began in Springfield when Drury University formed a partnership with Boyd-Berry Elementary School, just north of the university's campus. Pipkin Middle School and Central High School joined the school development program in 2000.
Tangible results are evident even in the program's first years. Students are working hard and excited about learning. Test scores have jumped. Fewer students get in trouble. Teachers no longer transfer out at the first opportunity. Boyd-Berry and Pipkin are suffused with a new sense of unity, community and purpose.
"What started as a neighborhood cooperative effort has resulted in gains beyond our wildest dreams."
Daniel Beach, EdD - Former Director of the Drury School of Education & Child Development
Just as doctors encourage patients to stay well and avoid future harm, the Comer model seeks to improve the "wellness"of the classroom. Feelings of safety, security, belonging and self-esteem are the goals.
Reaching those goals takes unity. The Comer process mobilizes teachers, parents and other caretakers, counselors, administrators and the community at large. Yale provides guidance, support and training. Drury faculty work closely with the schools to keep programs on track, and Drury education students bring extra power and motivation to the process. Strong community leadership provides a solid foundation for progress.
How do you approach the complicated work of transforming a school? This is where the Comer model is most valuable. It provides a system and a structure for preparing the way, implementing change, monitoring results, and reworking the school to improve it further. Think about it in threes:
Three principles guide the process:
Three operations shape the school:
Three teams take responsibility:
"Four years of experience at Boyd-Berry proves we can make education work in schools with the greatest needs."
- Springfield News-Leader, Sept. 11, 2000.
The Work Shows Results:
|Language arts MMAT scores for Boyd-Berry second graders
Percent scoring in the
|Percent of students receiving
|25||1st year of Comer||10.1|
|39||2nd year of Comer||3.6|
|47||3rd year of Comer||2.2|
These opportunities are an investment in success, deepening the commitment to the Comer process and the Springfield Public Schools-Drury partnership.
"It's important to help the whole child. You end up with much higher performance. It brings everybody together. It's like a good symphony."
Edward Joyner, EdD - Executive Director of the Yale University Comer School Development Program.
In 2000, Central High School joined the partnership. Direct involvement in the Comer process and an influx of students from the other Comer schools will have a combined impact, emerging over the next few years.
Departments across the Drury University campus, excited about the program's success, have asked how they can contribute to improving the classroom experience at Comer schools, and how Drury students can learn more by working in the schools.
For More Information:
School of Education & Child Development
900 North Benton Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802
Dr. Jayne White, Director
Drury University Comer School Development Program
Phone: (417) 873-7260
Springfield R-XII School District
940 North Jefferson Avenue
Springfield, Missouri 65802
Dr. Norman Ridder, Superintendent
Phone: (417) 864-3800