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The 2000s: Taking Steps to Secure Our Future


  • The concept of a math and science academy for high school students moves closer to reality when the state legislature designates start-up money in the 2000-02 budget to plan an academy for Kentucky. This funding allows us to hire a facilitator, Renee Watkins, and to continue to advocate for the school.
  • Tracy Inman is named associate director for The Center.


  • We create the Board of Advisors, which quickly becomes an integral part of The Center. Rather than coming exclusively from the fields of gifted education, the board members, who hail from around Kentucky and the country, bring expertise and talents in a variety of areas, thus extending the reach of The Center.
  • Julia is presented with the National Association for Gifted Children’s (NAGC) inaugural David W. Belin Advocacy Award. NAGC, which aims to support families and educators who work with gifted and talented children, presents the Belin award “to an individual or group that has successfully advocated at the state or federal level to incorporate gifted education, in a significant and meaningful way, into state or federal education policy.”
  • A gift from Vince and Kathleen Berta creates the Berta Fund for Excellence.
  • We hold the first of two twentieth anniversary celebrations: over 500 guests attend a summer party on WKU’s South Lawn.


  • The Mahurin Professorship is endowed with a generous gift from Pete and Dixie Mahurin, one of the first endowed professorships at WKU and one of the first in the country in gifted education. The Commonwealth of Kentucky gives additional funding from its matching incentive fund to further secure the endowed professorship. Julia is the first to hold the professorship.
  • Super Saturdays expands from offering one sequence in early winter to a second sequence in late fall.
  • We honor three individuals with Challenge Awards in recognition of their tremendous impact on gifted education for children and youth: Larry Laird, Doris Mils, and Jody Richards..
  • We hold the second of two twentieth anniversary celebrations: an evening event called 20 Years and Counting: The Sky’s the Limit.


  • JuliaJulia is recognized by the NAGC as one of the most influential people in gifted education in its Profiles of Influence in Gifted Education: Historical Perspectives and Future Directions, published in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the NAGC.


  • Through the 2001 gift from Vince and Kathleen Berta that created the Berta Fund for Excellence, The Center establishes the Berta Seminars. At these free events, nationally- and internationally-known experts educate their audiences on the social and emotional needs of gifted students during evening sessions for parents and daylong professional development for educators. As of 2017, more than 725 family members and 825 educators have participated.
  • We honor three more individuals with Challenge Awards in recognition of their tremendous impact on gifted education for children and youth: Susan Leib, J. T. Sandefur, and Donald Zacharias.


  • As part of People to People International, Julia, Tracy, and Dick travel to China where Julia serves as the invited leader of and Tracy and Dick participate in a U.S.-China Joint Education Conference.
  • In a huge victory for the gifted students of Kentucky, the legislature provides funding to establish what becomes The Gatton Academy.
  • Julia and Tracy are part of a task force representing multiple stakeholders in gifted education that drafts a white paper entitled “Kentucky’s Future: Mining Untapped Treasure – Children and Youth of the Commonwealth Who Are Gifted and Talented.”
  • A group of alumni create the Alumni Association.


  • ConstructionA gift from C.M. “Bill” Gatton provides a name for the new Academy of Science and Mathematics in Kentucky; the school also names a director, Tim Gott, and, with additional funding from WKU and the state legislature, begins the renovation of WKU’s Florence Schneider Hall, where the school will be located.
  • The first of four Administrators Institutes is held, providing practical strategies geared towards helping school and district leaders meet the needs of gifted and talented youth. Participants learn about the latest research and how to apply that research to their policies and practices. Close to 100 administrators benefit from these institutes. Starting in 2009, The Center partners with KAGE to host an administrator strand during KAGE’s Annual Conference.
  • We hold a twenty-fifth anniversary celebration on WKU’s South Lawn.


  • Renovations of Schneider Hall complete, The Gatton Academy is dedicated, and its doors open to the first 120 students. At this time The Center also moves to our new home in Schneider Hall.


  • The Center receives our third Javits grant for the five-year Project GEMS (Gifted Education in Math and Science), conducted in partnership with Warren County Public Schools in Bowling Green. Project GEMS aims to create a model for increasing the number of elementary students, especially underrepresented students, in advanced science and math that other school systems would be able to replicate. The model also encourages high-ability students’ interest and achievement in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.
  • The Center and The Gatton Academy partner with the Prichard Committee on the first of three special Governor’s Commonwealth Institutes for Parent Leadership (CIPL) that focus on STEM. CIPL seeks to educate family and community members about how best to support and advocate for improvements in the school system; the STEM institutes provide leadership, planning, and strategic development training for those seeking specifically to advance STEM education in their schools.
  • The Kentucky General Assembly established The Gatton Academy in statute.


  • StrategiesThe second edition of Julia and Tracy’s book Strategies for Differentiating Instruction: Best Practices for the Classroom, published by Prufrock Press, wins the Legacy Award for the Outstanding Book for Educators in Gifted Education from the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented.
  • Julia is elected to the Executive Committee of the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children. The World Council is an international organization devoted to advocating for and supporting gifted and talented youth by promoting the latest scholarship from around the globe at its biennial conference, sponsoring awards for work in gifted education, publishing its journal and newsletter, and providing an online forum and job postings.

History of The Center by Decade

The 80s: Commencing Our Work

The 90s: Expanding Our Reach

The 2000s: Taking Steps to Secure Our Future

The 2010s: Continuing our Traditions/Exploring New Possibilities

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 Last Modified 8/28/18