Dr. Cantor is the Founder, President, and CEO of Turnaround for Children Inc., a nonprofit organization that partners with public schools to address the obstacles to teaching and learning that stem from the stress of poverty. Turnaround has designed a targeted intervention to mitigate the way this stress impacts student readiness to learn. In each partner school, Turnaround works simultaneously to create systems of support for the highest-need students, trains teachers in proven classroom management and instructional strategies, and works with school leaders to build a high-performing culture. Turnaround views each classroom as an important source of reinforcing experiences with the potential to enhance each child’s development and performance. This fortified environment allows every child to develop the skills that will lift them to higher standards of academic success and prepare them for college and career.
A child psychiatrist for 18 years, Dr. Cantor’s approach to tackling the challenges to students, teachers and schools in high-poverty communities grew out of decades of work with children exposed to trauma. As one of the leaders of the Partnership for the Recovery of New York City Schools, Dr. Cantor assessed the impact of the 9/11 attacks on schoolchildren in the city. In high-poverty schools, she found students traumatized by the circumstances in their lives, teachers ill equipped to meet their intense behavioral and academic needs, and principals unable to crack the barriers to building a strong culture that ensures social and academic success for all. These schools were not ready for teaching or learning. She founded Turnaround for Children to address this critically important dimension for transformation of the public education system.
As Joe Nocera wrote in a column about Turnaround for Children in The New York Times in 2012, “Creating schools that are designed from the start to deal with the predictable challenges of poverty—it is the most important thing we can do next.”. Dr. Cantor has positioned Turnaround as one of the few organizations that both knows the science of child development and put this knowledge to work in the field, through its partnerships with 84 schools. For policy-makers and educators seeking a comprehensive solution to fix our failing schools, Dr. Cantor’s leadership and practical experience are in great demand.
Dr. Cantor received an M.D. from Cornell University Medical College and a B.A. from Sarah Lawrence College. She was named an Ashoka Fellow in 2013.