About the Lab School

The Dr. Mary J. Wright University Laboratory School, the lab school, was established in 1973 by Dr. Mary J. Wright, former Chair of the Department of Psychology at Western University and eminent researcher in the fields of child development and early childhood education. It is administered by the Department of Psychology as a model school for young children and as a research and demonstration facility. From its first day of school in 1973 until the end of the school year in June 2007, the lab school lived on the 5th floor of the Social Science Centre on the Western campus. The lab school moved to the north end of campus into Westminster Hall, in time to begin its 35th year.

The lab school is open to families in the general London community from September through June of every year. Up to 100 children from 1 through 5 years attend one of four programs. All children are welcome to attend, including those with special needs. Children are encouraged to fully engage in their explorations and learning at the lab school where all aspects of the curriculum are designed to nurture the children's social, emotional, cognitive, and physical development. A strong emphasis is placed on providing a safe and enriching environment for children, one in which they feel secure to try things out for possibly the first time and to feel good about themselves in the process.

To date, the lab school has had four Directors and one Acting Director -- Dr. Mary J. Wright (Founding Director 1973-80), Dr. Joy Davey (Director, 1980-1987), Linda Smith (Acting Director, 1987-88), and Dr. Mary Lou Vernon (Director, 1988 to 2012), and Dr. Jenny Sullivan (Director, 2012 to present).

Dr. Wright and Dr. Vernon
June 2007

Dr. Mary Lou Vernon was the Lab School Director for 24 years, from 1988 until 2012.  Mary Lou came to work each day inspired by the teachers, children, families, researchers, and University students she worked with year after year.  In her role as Director and Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology, Mary Lou was energized by the Lab School's unique humanistic philosophy, its outstanding curriculum, and its enriching inclusive community.  Her gift to the school upon her departure is the painting that hangs outside the Director's office, her gift of "Gratitude" for the two dozen years she had the joy and privilege serving as Director. 

Our most recently retired long-time teachers include Karen Whistlecraft (1974-2007), Sandie
Gatt (1973-2009), and Diane Park (1990-2010). These three teachers taught at the lab school for 33, 36, and 20 years, respectively, and we thank them for their exceptional work with us over all those years.

Sandie Gatt

Diane Park

Karen Whistlecraft

What our Parents are Saying...

"Growing like a tall tree . . .”
Just as the first line of the lab school’s longtime favorite birthday song says, and now that our new site surrounds the school with beautiful parkland, trees and a river, we envision children at the lab school to be growing like a tall tree.  We hope you’ll spend this amazing time in your child’s life of extraordinary wonderment and growth with us!