At Susan Gray School, children with disabilities and typically developing children learn side by side

Students at the Susan Gray School. (Lauren Holland/Vanderbilt)

by Kurt Brobeck

Peabody College’s Susan Gray School for Children has long been known at Vanderbilt and in the Nashville community as a resource for early childhood education of children with developmental disabilities. Not everyone knows, however, that the school also enrolls many typically developing children.

“Faculty members in the Department of Special Education pioneered the concept of inclusive education beginning several decades ago,” said Kiersten Kinder, site director for the school. “And the Susan Gray School was the first nationally recognized program that included typically developing children with children who have disabilities. [rquote]Through the Susan Gray School, researchers have demonstrated that children with special needs actually benefit more when they are taught alongside their typically developing peers.”[/rquote]

On average, the Susan Gray School enrolls a ratio of 70 percent typically developing children to 30 percent children with disabilities. The school serves children ages 1 to 5 in eight classrooms. Most lead teachers hold master’s degrees and most co-teachers hold bachelor’s degrees. The school is open year-round.

The Susan Gray School is housed on the Peabody College campus in One Magnolia Circle (also home to the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center). The school features a large playground that includes a central fort structure with wheelchair accessibility and novel play panels, a variety of swing types, and an outdoor classroom area.

Kinder says the Susan Gray School is currently seeking applications for the 2014-15 school year, which begins on Aug. 5. “SGS is a unique resource for Vanderbilt and Nashville. We offer a high-quality preschool experience with teaching that’s based on research and respected nationally,” she said.

Interested parents should call 322-8200 to arrange a visit. Tours of the school run daily at 10 a.m. Parents can also check out the Susan Gray School website.

The Susan Gray School is approved by the Tennessee Department of Education and licensed by the Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.

Contact: (615) 322-8200