HARTSVILLE, S.C. _ Dr. James P. Comer, Yale University Professor and creator of the Comer School Development Program, toured Hartville’s four Comer schools – West Hartsville Elementary, Southside Early Childhood Center, Thornwell School for the Arts and Washington Street Elementary School – on Thursday.

The Comer School Development, a highly successful program created by Dr. Comer which focuses on improving academic achievement and personal development of each child, was implemented in these four schools in 2012 as a key component of the Partners for Unparalleled Local Scholastic Excellence (PULSE) initiative. The nationally recognized Comer SDP model has been successfully implemented in hundreds of schools in more than 20 states, the District of Columbia, Trinidad and Tobago, South Africa, England and Ireland.

Comer met the principals at each school before taking a tour and speaking with each of them briefly about the progress their school has made since implementing the program three years ago.

Comer SDP calls the third year the “Transformation Phase.” Year one was “Planning and Preparation,” and year two was “Foundation Building.”

Julie Mahn, principal of Thornwell School for the Arts, said the program has meant a total transformation for the school.

“It has been a whole turn around as far as the culture of the school,” she said. “It has changed the behavior of this school. This is a blessed school.”

One principal said there is more parent involved and the students are more engaged.

Comer said that he will continue to be involved with the schools as long as they are all satisfied that the program is working. He had high praise for what the schools are doing.

During his visit, Comer also met with Darlington County School District officials, including Dr. Eddie Ingram, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction Carlita Davis and the District Planning and Management Team (DPMT) that provides system-level support of the School Development Program implementation. He also attend a TEACH Foundation board meeting. The TEACH Foundation is the administrative arm of the PULSE initiative.

At the board meeting, Comer made a presentation entitled, “Today’s Children and Communities, Tomorrow’s Leaders.”