Vanderbilt Kennedy Center

About the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center

Susan Gray, Early Training Project, and Head Start

Susan Gray (1913-1992), a Peabody alumna, was a co-founder of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center. When the Center was formed in 1965, the Early Training Project, directed by Gray and her colleague Rupert Klaus, had begun to receive national attention. With a new research center developing at Peabody and with Gray as a national authority on the early education of "disadvantaged" children, it was natural that the Center should have an on-campus, research-oriented school. The Experimental School - renamed the Susan Gray School in 1986 - was devoted to educational research involving children with various disabilities or children whose future development was at risk because of conditions such as poverty.

The Demonstration and Research Center for Early Education, or DARCEE, which Gray directed, focused on improving the educability of children from low-income families. It was housed in temporary buildings until 1972, when the DARCEE model preschool classroom moved to the School where it continued into the 1980s.

Sargent Shriver, founding director of the Peace Corp and political advocate for persons who are poor and powerless, has credited Gray with the inspiration for founding Head Start: "Dr. Gray's pioneering experiments showed us what could be accomplished and how to go about it. Through Head Start and through the even more massive programs for child development which have flowed from the Head Start experiment, Susan Gray has made an enduring contribution to the nation's welfare."

Susan Gray on the playground with a  child

"Children are our future and their today is our world's tomorrow"
- Susan Gray

See Also...

Vanderbilt Kennedy Center Links

  • More About Nicholas Hobbs
    Nicholas Hobbs (1915-1983) was a pioneer in the field of child psychology, developing new concepts for treating children with emotional problems and children with intellectual disabilities.
  • Lloyd Dunn and the Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test
    Lloyd Dunn was one of the "scholars with a social conscience" who founded the Kennedy Center in 1965.
  • Institute on Mental Retardation and Intellectual Development
    The Institute on Mental Retardation and Intellectual Development (IMRID) conducted a broad program of research, but its major emphasis was on the retarded intellectual development associated with socioeconomic deprivation.
  • The History of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center
    The Vanderbilt Kennedy Center for Research on Education and Human Development was one of twelve original members of a national network of research centers on intellectual and developmental disabilities created by the Kennedy administration in 1963.
  • Demonstration and Research Center for Early Education (DARCEE)
    The Demonstration and Research Center for Early Education (DARCEE) was established in 1966 to serve as a research, training, and demonstration center concerned with improving the educability of young children from low-income homes.

Other Links and Resources

  • Susan Gray School
    A nationally recognized early childhood education and early intervention program that includes typically developing children in educational settings with children with disabilities.