As part of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center's 50th anniversary celebration, families, researchers, staff, trainees, and others shared their reflections. View a sample below, and select "more" to view additional comments.

A reflection from a family
Susan M. Spickard - Grandmother

Fifty years ago my husband and I had the privilege of hearing President John F. Kennedy speak to the community at the football stadium at Vanderbilt University. It was a great day. We were proud of the University. We are both graduates and my retired husband was part of the Medical faculty for 45 years. Although we were very familiar with the University and the Medical Center, we were not as connected to the Kennedy Center until the birth of our grandson William, who has Down syndrome. He is now 17. William and his parents have received innumerable services from the Center, including hands-on intervention participating in research projects and receiving support at every step of the journey.

Susan M. Spickard - Grandmother

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A reflection from a researcher
Tricia Thornton-Wells, Ph.D. - Molecular Physiology and Biophysics and Biomedical Informatics

For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated with learning about how the brain works and what can go wrong in the brain to cause problems with cognition, mood, and personality. The VKC is exceptional in its commitment to the people it serves and also the people it trains and employs. The positive energy and enthusiasm that is projected by its leadership is inspiring, and the collaborations that I have developed with investigators through the Kennedy Center have been among the most productive and enjoyable. I am eager to discover new areas where I can bring my skills and experience to bear. I am proud to be associated with such an amazing group of scientists, educators, and clinicians.

Tricia Thornton-Wells, Ph.D. - Molecular Physiology and Biophysics and Biomedical Informatics

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A reflection from a professional

As a teacher and now as Director of Special Education in Manchester City Schools, I feel very fortunate to have received training from Vanderbilt Kennedy Center TRIAD myself. It helped me better serve my students with this challenging disorder. Now as our district administrator, I strongly encourage and support training opportunities for the teachers in our school system. This year alone over 50% of our special education teachers and/or assistants were involved in a training activity through TRIAD. The quality of this training is unsurpassed. In addition to the sessions offered at regional locations, our district was fortunate to have consultation and training provided on-site at our schools. I do not believe training of this quality and type is available anywhere else and even if it was, it would not be affordable for our school district. Our teachers are better prepared due to the training they received through TRIAD. However, the most important aspect is that our students receive the greatest benefit.

Jenny Thomas - Director of Special Education, Manchester City Schools, Manchester, TN

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A reflection from a trainee

As a UCEDD trainee, the VKC has been very important to me. I have learned so much from contributing to many of its self-advocacy projects for people with disabilities, and I am proud to be a part of all they do in the Nashville community. As a graduate student in Peabody College, I feel that working with the VKC UCEDD has helped me to mature in ways that will make me a successful special education teacher.

Carrie Glover - Graduate student in Special Education and VKC UCEDD Trainee

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