”Northern Panhandle Head Start, Inc. in WVA has built a longtime partnership with the HealthyCHILD and COMET programs which support the professional growth of our staff in understanding the importance of strategies that promote children’s social-emotional development. Over time, this valuable partnership with Dr. Bagnato and his team has provided our teachers with invaluable support in the classroom for promoting children’s self-regulation, social skills and early literacy. Our teaching teams have mentors as a resource at their fingertips! We have seen a strong improvement in their skills because of this superb collaboration.”

Marlene Midget, Executive Director, Northern PanhandleHead Start, Inc., West Virginia


  • National research center grant from the US Department of Health and
    Human Services, Administration on Children and Families (ACF), Office
    of Planning, Research, and Evaluation; (2008-2012)
  • University-Head Start Partnership grant to conduct research on promoting effective teaching practices in Head Start classrooms in the Appalachian region of Pennsylvania and West Virginia, through a newly developed and validated COMET model for structured and individualized mentoring.
  • Professional development training and mentoring on developmentally-appropriate practices in assessment, instruction, management, and care of young children

The central mission of COMET is to examine the functional interrelationships mentoring, teaching practices, and child progress. Our research hypothesizes that individual mentoring with teachers encourages the effective use of specific instructional practices which foster the development of specific early school success competencies in young children. There is a dearth of research in this important area.

Three major aspects of "best practices" will be the focus of this University-Head Start applied research partnership:

  1. On-site and in-vivo individualized mentoring, collaborative professional development and supervision provided to Head Start teachers focusing upon using developmentally-appropriate and specific "evidence-based" practices with young children;
  2. Progressive changes during mentoring in the efficacy of teacher's specific instructional behaviors, interactions, and management and care practices in influencing children's early school success;
  3. Children's progress and success in acquiring competencies in early literacy skills, social-emotional relationships with peers and adults, and self-control behaviors which are prerequisites for early school success.

Heinz Endowments, COMET Plus; (2009-present)

Northern Panhandle Head Start, Inc., West Virginia (2008-present)

Beaver County Head Start (2008-present)

Westmoreland County Head Start (2008-2011)

Pittsburgh Association for the Education of Young Children (PAEYC) (2008-2010)

Office of Child Development and Early Learning (OCDEL), Keystone Stars, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Departments of Education and Public Welfare (2008-present)

Philadelphia field office of Administration on Children and Families, Office of Head Start (2008-present)

Praxis On-Line Learning, University of Massachusetts Medical School; development of an on-line seminar package on authentic assessment for early intervention professionals; (2010)


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