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Kathy Kolbe’s Contribution to Gifted Education


Over the course of her lifetime, Kathy Kolbe has empowered countless people to be who they uniquely are by building on their natural abilities. She has made it her life’s work to help people find the freedom to be themselves, and she recently received the Arizona Association for the Gifted and Talented (AAGT) Lifetime Achievement Award at the organization’s 40th Anniversary Celebration.

Kolbe’s Arizona career in gifted education began in 1973 when she became Chairman of a committee to design and implement the first gifted program for Scottsdale Unified School District.  This led to her becoming an advisor to the AZ Department of Education, founding AAGT, and designing and teaching the first gifted education course as an adjunct professor at ASU – all in one year!

Kolbe also founded Resources for the Gifted, an award-winning publishing company that provided materials to educators working with gifted students.  She was very successful as she began conducting seminars, workshops and research in the field.  She started a nonprofit arm for research and grant work originally named The Center for Critical and Creative Thinking, and now the Center for Conative Abilities.  She published more than 100 children’s problem-solving workbooks (Think-ercise!® activities) which were purchased by more than 30,000 schools in 15 countries and set a worldwide standard for K-12 gifted education. 

From the early 70s to today, Kolbe has continued to be a pioneer in the educational field.  While considering multiple ways to identify abilities, she has spent years studying conative patterns of behavior and authored the first reliable measurement of conation, the Kolbe A™ Index.  As a result of her wisdom and work, students everywhere are able to discover the unique ways in which they can be successful - while being true to themselves.  As future leaders and change agents, these students gain knowledge from Kolbe that will have lasting impact locally and globally.  

She consistently devotes time and energy to improve the quality of life for all people.  She embodies the highest level of excellence and is very deserving of the AAGT Lifetime Achievement Award.  Her passion for working with youth is remarkable, revolutionary and real!  

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