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2010s: Continuing our Traditions/Exploring New Possibilities


  • The Center adds a week-long educational tour during fall break to complement the trips we offer during spring break; these excursions take travelers to Italy, Scotland, Germany and Austria, Spain, Belgium and The Netherlands, Ireland, and Greece.
  • The James Graham Brown Foundation awards a $500,000 challenge grant to The Center, The Gatton Academy, and the WKU Honors College for the i4 Initiative, later named Innovate Kentucky, to promote a culture of innovation through a series of outreach and programming opportunities that instill a sense of the importance of STEM education. WKU is one of four higher education institutions to receive a grant in the foundation’s first-ever Higher Education Competitive Grant Program. The Center meets the challenge grant by raising a matching $500,000 from individuals, organizations, and foundations. In addition to creating a website, podcast, and social media accounts, the initiative sponsors several classes at VAMPY, co-sponsors several events related to STEM, co-sponsors a winter course at WKU, and is a co-partner in creating Innoplexx, The WKU Student Incubator, at the Center for Research and Development at WKU. Innovate Kentucky also develops, in 2014, the Little Learners, Big Ideas program with support from PNC Bank; and IdeaFestival Bowling Green.
  • ParentingParenting Gifted Children: The Authoritative Guide from the National Association for Gifted Children, co-authored by Tracy, Jennifer Jolly, Donald Treffinger, and Joan Franklin Smutny and published by Prufrock Press, wins the Legacy Award for the Outstanding Book for Parents in Gifted Education from the Texas Association for Gifted and Talented. This book compiles articles written for the NAGC’s magazine Parenting for High Potential.
  • Through a generous gift from the Mahurin family, the World Council moves its headquarters to The Center, and we provide an executive administrator, a position first held by Tracy Harkins and later by Tyler Clark.
  • VictoriaThe Victoria Fellows is founded, thanks to a gift from Linda and John Kelly and their daughter, Victoria, a longtime volunteer at The Center. The Kellys want their gift to be used for an initiative that would “make a difference,” and so The Center establishes an advocacy group to support young people who are gifted and talented in Kentucky. The resulting Victoria Fellows is composed of superintendents and assistant superintendents throughout the state who meet two to three times a year to listen to speakers, network, and share ideas.
  • The Center holds our first free seminar on the topic of twice-exceptional learners, who are defined as having at least one exceptional ability and disability. The program is initially supported by the Twice Exceptional Foundation which is funded by the Arts Education Task Force established by Flora Templeton Stuart. The yearly Twice-Exceptional Student Seminar provides information and strategies on supporting these learners. Although educators often make up the bulk of the audience, parents and students themselves are also invited and welcomed.
  • Julia receives the Acorn Award for Faculty Excellence Education from the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education. The award “recognizes outstanding faculty members and rewards exceptional teaching and professional achievement.” One award is given annually to a professor at a four-year Kentucky university.


  • Summer CampThe Center founds a summer day camp for elementary school gifted and talented students. The Summer Camp offers a week-long enrichment experience for students who have completed grades 1-3. In 2013, the age group is extended to fourth graders. In 2015, the program splits into two camps: Camp Explore for grades 1-3 and Camp Innovate for grades 4-5. Beginning in 2017, third graders can attend either of the two camps. All the camps incorporate minds-on, hands-on activities across several disciplines united by a common theme. By 2017, 385 students have attended one of the camp’s iterations.
  • The Center hosts the first of an eventual three delegations of educators from Saudi Arabia who come to WKU to learn about our programs in gifted education. The other delegations arrive in 2013 and 2017.


  • The headquarters of the World Council at The Center hosts the 2013 Biennial World Conference in Louisville.
  • We expand The Challenge to three issues a year.


  • The Center’s Innovate Kentucky initiative partners with PNC Bank on the Grow Up Great Initiative to create Little Learners, Big Ideas, a series of six videos made by Center staff member Allison Bemiss with support from WKU-PBS. These videos are designed to guide the parents and educators of very young children in how to encourage the skills necessary for learning. The initiative later grows into a series of community educational workshops and a curriculum manual based on the Little Learners lesson plans, Hands-On STEAM Explorations for Young Learners: Problem-Based Investigations for Preschool to Second Grade, written by Allison and published by Prufrock Press.
  • IdeaThe Center’s Innovate Kentucky initiative holds the first IdeaFestival Bowling Green, a one-day celebration of ideas done in cooperation with Louisville’s IdeaFestival. It is initially organized by Josh Raymer and later by Erika Solberg. The springtime event features speakers who are innovators in such fields as sustainability, entrepreneurship, music, healthcare, computing, and film. In 2016 the festival adds an activity component where participants can talk with experts and experiment with their ideas; it also shifts its focus to an audience of middle and high school students. By 2018, more than 2,600 participants have attended.
  • Funding is received from the state legislature and from private donors to allow The Gatton Academy to accommodate additional students through an expansion of Schneider Hall. Gatton also appoints a new director, Lynette Breedlove.
  • The Center partners with Green River Region Educational Cooperative for the first of two summer workshops through Race to the Top. The first, AP English Instructional Strategies for All Students, serves about 30 mostly middle school teachers; the second, The Kentucky Student Growth Project, allows 47 middle and high school English teachers to do formalized studies of factors that negatively affect student performance.


  • WKU begins offering an MAE in gifted education and talent development. The MAE can either lead to certification or take a research focus.
  • ConstructionAs construction begins on the expansion of Schneider Hall, The Center relocates to Tate Page Hall and Gary Ransdell Hall.
  • A grant from the Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence supports a traveling exhibit of the murals made in Ron Skillern’s VAMPY class Nazi Germany and the Holocaust. The murals are displayed at WKU’s Kentucky Museum in 2015 and at the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts in Louisville in 2016. Both exhibits are used to spark discussions about the Holocaust.
  • Julia receives The Palmarium Award from the University of Denver Institute for the Development of Gifted Education. The award is presented to “the individual most exemplifying the vision of a future in which giftedness will be understood, embraced, and systematically nurtured throughout the nation and the world.”
  • The first of several books by staff of The Center is translated into Arabic.


  • The Center receives our fourth Javits grant, partnering with the Kentucky Department of Education, Jefferson County Public Schools, and the University of Louisville for the three-year Project RAP (Reaching Academic Potential). The grant has two main goals. The first is to identify and serve underrepresented populations of gifted students — some minority students, twice-exceptional students, English Language Learners, and students from poverty. The second is to disseminate information about the Excellence Gap so that educators and policy makers can work to reduce it. The Excellence Gap is the gap at the advanced level of student achievement: lower socioeconomic groups, English language learners, and African American and Hispanic students are underrepresented at the highest levels of academic achievement.
  • The Center and The Gatton Academy return to the newly expanded Schneider Hall, featuring additional living quarters for students, a grand common room large enough to hold the entire expanded student body of 200 students, and renovated offices.
  • The World Council renews its contract to locate its headquarters at The Center for another five years.
  • STEMProviding a five-year $500,000 grant, the National Stem Cell Foundation partners with The Center and The Gatton Academy to start the National STEM Scholar Program, designed to inspire the creativity and passion of middle school science teachers. For one week each summer, a cohort of ten exceptional middle school science teachers arrives in Bowling Green from across the country to spend a week engaging in thought-provoking activities led by science education experts and in creating a network of scholars that stays in touch throughout the year.


  • The first of three grants from Qatar Foundation International (QFI) makes it possible for ten students to study Arabic at VAMPY, where the course has been offered since 2013. QFI is a member of the Qatar Foundation, which is funded by the Qatari government. It sponsors programs that promote Arabic education and culture in the the United States.
  • Tracy and Jana Kirchner’s Parenting Gifted Children 101: An Introduction to Gifted Kids and Their needs, published by Prufrock Press, wins the Legacy Award for the Outstanding Book for Parents in Gifted Education from the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented.
  • WKU first offers the Specialist Degree in Gifted Education and Talent Development. WKU becomes the only university in Kentucky to offer the MAE and the Specialist Degree, and it offers more coursework in gifted education than any other university in the state.
  • Julia is elected president of the World Council.
  • muralsA second grant from the Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence and a partnership between The Center, the Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts, and Kentucky Educational Television (KET) allows all twenty murals from the VAMPY course Nazi Germany and the Holocaust to be displayed in Louisville and Danville in 2017 and in Bowling Green in 2018. In addition, KET begins work on a documentary and online resources for PBS Online Media that will make the lessons of the murals available to students throughout the country and the world.


  • The Nazi Germany and the Holocaust murals project continues as KET premieres its documentary, Murals of the Holocaust, at the Kentucky Center for the Arts in Louisville and at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green. The Corvette Museum also hosts an exhibit of all 20 of the existing murals.
  • mexicoA group of students and educators from Centro de Atención al Talento in Mexico City visits The Center and The Gatton Academy to learn about our programs.
  • Julia, Tracy, and Jennifer Robins of Baylor University win the 2018 Legacy Award for Outstanding Book for Scholars in Gifted Education from the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented for Introduction to Gifted Education (Prufrock).


  • The Center partners with the Jefferson County Public Schools to continue the work of Project RAP by providing training for educators at five additional elementary schools and by helping the district work toward compliance with Kentucky's Regulation in Gifted and Talented Education.
  • Doctors Bharat and Bharati Mody of Glasgow endow the Doctors Mody Scholarship, which provides financial support for VAMPY students and has been offered since 2001.
  • The Gheens Foundation of Louisville funds the Rhea P. Lazarus Scholars, a one-year grant of $20,000 for young people from Jefferson County who need financial suport to attend SCATS or VAMPY.
  • mellownautsThrough the National STEM Scholars Program, The Center sends a payload of marshmallow astronauts — “mallownauts” — and data collection tools into space via the private spaceflight company Blue Origin as part of an experiment involving middle school science students across the country.
  • A group of scholars from the Central University of Technology in South Africa visits The Center and The Gatton Academy to learn about our programs. 
  • WCGTCWe host the 23rd Biennial World Conference of the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children in Nashville, TN. Over 750 participants from 45 countries attend.
  • KAGE celebrates its 40th anniversary. 

 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 9/6/19