“In the gifted world, distance learning is fueling innovation, and envisioning how to use these platforms is moving faster than accreditation. If we think of educators as people who come into our lives in many different ways, the possibility of an education-of-one becomes real.” – Kate Duey, USA

Gifted students have unique challenges and needs, and Kate Duey understands these needs more than most. As part of The Institute for Educational Advancement (IEA), Duey serves gifted high school students across the US, helping them identify the right kind of college experience for their learning style, working to get them there, and aiding in the often-challenging transition to higher education.

In many cases, these students lack access to important resources, and Duey is able to connect them with what they need, including online or community college alternatives to traditional higher education. The IEA’s mission states that they “cross traditional educational boundaries by working in public, independent, parochial and alternative schools.” Ultimately, the organization hopes their initiatives “foster intellectual curiosity, the acquisition of knowledge, confidence, creativity, responsibility and moral decisiveness.”

Duey and her organization organize apprenticeships, summer camps, academies and various other programs, all designed to serve high-potential gifted students. Today, we’re please to introduce you to Kate Duey, who shares her views on what gifted students need to fulfill their potential, and how technology is reshaping their options.

Can you describe how your professional achievements have advanced innovation in education?  What has changed as a result of your efforts?
How can others facing similar challenges implement what you’ve learned through your work?

Children, parents, teachers and communities are often confused by gifted children’s
uneven social, emotional, physical, spiritual and intellectual growth. Transitioning into college is a time when the children’s asynchronous development is very much on display and open for discussion.  We work to support this transition. Here are a few of our services:


This summer I led workshops on college applications for gifted high school students.
We talked about the standard issues associated with college searches and applications. Much of the workshops, however, centered on Dabrowski’s theories of gifted students’ over-excitabilities. Each student identified his or her strongest excitability. We talked about how that intensity has shaped their lives, and how it might affect them applying to and entering college. We finished by asking, “If I had a miserable week in college, what could I do Friday afternoon?” Students who identified an excitability as a learning challenge also saw the same excitability as a source of support. Some of the students’




Bad week?


Can’t sit still in class; talk too

Roommate who needs little sleep;
walk long distances between classes

Basketball; lift weights


Need clean environment; fussy
about food

Fabric softener; cozy campus

Eat something; go shopping


Always daydreaming; people think
I’m weird

Lots of theater productions; have
a single dorm room

Watch a movie; walk around a city
and look at people


Complicate relationships; annoy

College with graduate school &
research opportunities; professors live in residence halls

Read; hang out in a lab


Worry over everything; upset by
“mean” comments

Counseling services; have a cat in
my dorm

Call high school friend; play with
my cat


College counseling often includes separating student from parents so the student can
control his or her own process.  Of course, we do some of that, but we are also mindful that parents are very important in this transition. Every year we host an evening for parents of
gifted children to talk about college. Some of the topics covered:

  • Acceleration, early entrance and radical acceleration
  • Course sequencing and opportunities in local college and on-line education
  • Developmental timeline, which is similar to an age-mate but with some caveats
  • College searches, particularly about the importance of considering over-excitabilities in evaluating a college. We talk with the parents much as we talk with the students: given his or her intensities, what college is best for your child?
  • Financial aid, and especially how it can impact a student taking on graduate school debt, or a student who might not want to commit to a loan repayment schedule


IEA now has about 1000 alumni from different programs, and we are working to
connect them with current students and fellow alumni. Older alumni are invaluable mentors to younger students, and especially during transitions — into middle school and high school, college applications, and starting careers. We are also working on a longitudinal survey on post-high school experiences. One question we have is if and how college loans affected their early careers.

How have you applied technology in innovative ways to support your work?

We are working to build a social network among our students, alumni, parents, teachers, mentors and thought-leaders. The gifted population is three to 10 percent of the student
population (depending on definitions). Every community has gifted children, and reaching out geographically is important at the IEA because the students in our three major programs come from all over the US. Facebook and Linked-In are common ways to bring them together. For college counseling, collaborative text editing and Skype help a lot. I e-mail all day long.

We now have alumni entering their 30’s, and we want to connect them to our current students. We believe in the power of mentorship. Older gifted students understand younger students well. We are beginning to profile alumni on our blog’s “The Many Faces of Gifted” series. Our latest post is about a young man from Miami who now works in entertainment design. I’ve spent a lot of time this past year tracking down alumni. It is amazing what you can find out about someone on the Internet.

What is the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome to ensure students are
receiving a quality education?

I work in a supportive environment with great kids and parents, both at IEA and in my private practice. I’ve never had obstacles, just problems to solve. I’ll mention that gifted education can arouse passionate feelings in some people, especially regarding acceleration.
My best response is to ask about Kobe Bryant — should he have played four years of college basketball before going pro? I get an interesting mix of answers to this question.

What is your country doing well currently to support education?

Home schooling and on-line classes are coming together nicely to differentiate education for gifted students. MOOCs are the most recent in a series of innovations. Homeschooling for a gifted child may be a true schooled-at-home arrangement, or it can be supplemental. We often see gifted students, home schooled or not, studying at community colleges. Community colleges come with their own challenges. In California, budget cuts have reduced this opportunity. Quality in community college classrooms is irregular. And, of course, some students can’t get to a local college.

Home schooling becomes a very real option. This is particularly true in mathematics. Some public school districts and private schools are unable to move students between middle and high school campuses, or their staff can’t take a student into or past the AP Calculus classes. (Capable math and science teachers are difficult to recruit for most schools.) Beyond access is pace: some students want to move through math classes at an accelerated pace, and they do well if they are uncoupled from a weekly curriculum. Colleges have become much more reasonable about considering the multiple ways a student can learn, and the Common Application has a Home School Supplement.

On-line education also speaks to social challenges gifted students might face, such as peer pressure to conform, and sometimes bullying. I’ll add here that I was home schooled in sixth grade, when my family lived in Moengo, Suriname. I remember it fondly, and truly enjoy my home schooled students.

What conditions must change to better support education?

There are many answers to this question, but here’s one I’ve come to appreciate this year: crime.

A gifted child’s education can be differentiated by after-school programs or evening classes. Lower income children often can’t get to these enrichment opportunities. There may be only one car in a family which several adults must share to get to day and evening jobs. If the student rides the bus, he or she often has to be home before dark. They can’t wait for rides on street corners. I see this particularly with Latinas.

This year I struggled to arrange ACT and SAT preparation for low income first generation students. I’ve given up fighting to get them into traditional prep classes. Now I get the College Board’s textbook and send students to Kahn Academy. One girl moved her Verbal score 80 points, and I credit her hard work, and Kahn.

What is the best opportunity for innovation in education?

I support all means of differentiating curriculum. There are thousands of opportunities to do this. (Admittedly, some are crackpot.) But every student does not learn on the same schedule. Getting everyone on their own best path is especially important for children with any exceptionality. Like a student with a learning disability, a gifted student is 1.5 standard
deviations or more from a norm.

In the gifted world, distance learning is fueling innovation, and envisioning how to use these platforms is moving faster than accreditation. If we think of educators as people who come into our lives in many different ways, the possibility of an education-of-one becomes real.

Let’s imagine Samuel, who goes to his PE, Spanish, and English classes, and then has lunch with his friends. Next, he goes to the school’s library to complete a math assignment and to read for Georgia Virtual School’s AP European History class. He e-mails a question to his math teacher. Samuel walks home, and completes his math homework. Udacity’s computer science class webpages are very cool, so he entertains the family with those for a while. After dinner Samuel submits his Calculus C assignment to EPGY.
Before going to bed he plays video games with a girl he met in his Udacity class. This scenario has many opportunities, and many issues. What if someone steals the computer? What if Samuel loses his self-motivation? What happens to the school’s afternoon classes’ academic leadership? Who pays for Samuel’s distance learning classes? Very importantly, how can we make this experience cross-disciplinary? Samuel is a student in several discreet programs. This is significant because 21st century problem solving will be collaborative. How can Samuel practice the art of group effort?

I think about this because I work with students who are geographically dispersed but similarly minded. Almost all of our students are in traditional schools, but I’ve recently worked with two who very much look like Samuel.

What advice would you give a new teacher (or to anyone wanting to make a difference in education)?

Work hard in college. Learn everything you can. The students I see really want to know what you know.

Learn also what you can about working with students who have exceptionalities. They need your understanding.

If you could give one educational tool to every child in the world, what would it be?

An adult who reads to them every day. A library card. And high speed Internet access. (I’ve taken low income kids to Starbucks to read college webpages, so a shout out to them.)

For more on Kate, including her private college counseling practice, visit her website.

About Kate Duey

  • Birthplace: Austin, Texas
  • Current residence: La Canada,California
  • Education:  AB Harvard College ’79, MBA Harvard Business School (with coursework at Harvard Graduate School of Education) ’83, and College Counseling Certification, University of California, Los Angeles ’12
  • Website I check every day: The College Board and The New York Times
    “The Choice” Blog.
  • Person who inspires me most: My grandmother Jewel. Her mother died very young, and the family needed my grandmother to work at home. But she kept going to school a little at a time, and graduated from high school at 21.
  • Favorite childhood memory: Going to the library on Saturdays with my father.
  • Next travel destination (work or pleasure): To New Haven, Connecticut in January, to visit a daughter. This time I’ll probably stop by Quinnipiac. I’m curious about their Polling Institute and their interviewing facility.
  • When was the last time you laughed?  Why?  I always laugh when my two oldest daughters, now college graduates and self-supporting, explain to me how hard it is to save money.
  • Favorite book: Impossible to say.
  • Favorite music: Folk or country. Some rap. I like songs that tell a story, although I can do without the misogyny. I fundamentally like biography, and college counseling begins with understanding the student’s story.
  • Your favorite quote or motto: “A man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?”  – Browning
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