Mary Cornish

Professor of Early Childhood Education; Department Chair, Early Childhood Studies

BS, University of Maine; MEd, Tufts University; PhD, University of North Carolina

About Professor Cornish

Dr. Cornish teaches Culturally Responsive Early Care and Education, Learning and Teaching in the Primary Grades, Early Childhood Practicum and Early Intervention Practicum in the Department of Early Childhood Studies.

Much of her work involves engaging in collaborative efforts aimed at enhancing the quality of early care and education for young children ages birth-8 and their families. With colleague, Dr. Pat Cantor, she is involved in the Coos County Early Child Development Initiative, funded by the Neil and Louise Tilitoson Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation. The goal of this multi-year initiative is improve child care quality and create comprehensive services that promote the health and well-being of children ages B-5 and their families. Her contributions involve providing, on-going, embedded professional development related to play for early childhood teachers and directors across Coos County.  Dr. Cornish also works closely with Dr. Mary Earick in sustaining the Newfound Area School District/Plymouth State University Early Childhood Professional Development School (PDS) initiative. In addition to serving on the PDS Advisory Group, she engages with in-service and pre-service educators to promote high quality learning experiences for children in grades PreK-3.

Her current community-based service activities include membership on the Lower Grafton County Early Learning Council and the Whole Village Community Impact Team. Other significant service efforts have involved serving as Co-Director of the Plymouth Writing Project, New Hampshire’s National Writing Project site and Chair of the Family School Community Partnerships Special Interest Group of the American Educational Research Association (AERA).

Family engagement is one of Dr. Cornish’s primary areas of scholarship. She has presented numerous papers at national conferences, published reports and a book chapter on this topic. Her dissertation: Patriarchs, Pawns, and Pluralists: Parent and Business Participation in Three North Carolina Early Childhood Reform Partnerships, received the Outstanding Dissertation Award from the Families School and Community Partnerships Special  Interest Group (FSCP SIG) of AERA.  For the FSCP SIG she edited the book: Promising Practices for Partnering with Families in the Early Years.

Program evaluation and screen media/technology for children under 3 are other areas of her scholarship.  She served on the evaluation team for Smart Start, North Carolina’s state-wide early childhood reform initiative.  Dr. Cornish was co-evaluator of Quality Matters: A Child Care Initiative in the New Hampshire Lakes Region.  Also, she evaluated a K-12 bilingual program in an Arizona.  With Dr. Pat Cantor, she has presented widely on the topic of screen media and technology for children under the age of three. Currently they are co-writing a book on the topic.

Dr. Cornish joined the Plymouth State faculty in 2000.  Prior to her arrival, she was an Assistant Professor of Teaching and Teacher Education at the University of Arizona South and an early childhood instructor for Boston University Overseas. Early in her career her work with young children and families was varied. She taught in toddler, preschool, and Kindergarten classrooms and directed a preschool program.   Dr. Cornish was a home-based early interventionist and Education Specialist in both Head Start and military childcare.