The National Conference of Governor's Schools, Inc. was launched in October 1987 at the first national assembly of governor's schools' leaders and board members in Lexington, Kentucky.


How It Began

The assembly was the result of a year of planning that began in 1986, when a small group met informally in Kentucky and made a commitment to sponsor a conference to bring together for the first time the national leaders of governor's schools. They felt it was important to share information and ideas and to promote the innovative, non-traditional approaches to learning that were proving to be so successful in individual governor's schools.

Kentucky's Governor Martha Layne Collins issued an invitation to meet in Lexington, offering support to the co-sponsors of the proposed conference, the Kentucky's Governor's Scholars' Program and the Society for Values in Higher Education.

A steering committee later met in Washington, D.C., to lay out the tasks and goals of the proposed conference, and the following April a much larger National Committee met in Chicago to plan in detail the October conference.

By September 1987, advance registration exceeded expectations. On October 22 and 23, an exciting, energizing conference, likened to a "mini Governor's School," got underway in Lexington with 120 participants representing 28 states. Stimulated by the dazzling array of ideas, the variety of programs being offered across the nation and convinced of the importance of their efforts, the participants approved the formation and incorporation of a national association - the National Conference of Governor's School (NCoGS).

Within a few weeks of the end of the conference, Governor Bill Clinton of Arkansas issued an invitation to the new organization to hold its next conference in Little Rock. His invitation, with an offer of support through the Arkansas Department of Education and The Arkansas Governor's School, was accepted for the following October. Governor Clinton addressed the participants in Little Rock in October 1988, and that evening he and his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, hosted the association at the Governor's Mansion.

Where Governor's Schools Came From 

The Governor's School movement dates back to 1963 when Governor Terry Sanford of North Carolina established the first special residential summer program for gifted students. Several other states followed suit in the next few years - Georgia and South Carolina among them - all focusing on innovative, non-traditional approaches to learning. The movement remained steady, but gradual, when suddenly in the early 1980s, it burgeoned. Several things happened at once. Governors, educators, and business and community leaders in the less affluent states became concerned about the "brain drain" from their states. Elsewhere, others recognized that traditional education was neither developing the potential nor sufficiently challenging their brightest and best students.

Using a variety of approaches to develop the potential of the individual student, leaders established new governor's schools with great success in a number of states including Arkansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and others.

The Organization is Born 

Articles of Incorporation for the National Conference of Governor's Schools were ratified in Little Rock in October 1988, and the association was officially born.

Other conferences followed. In Princeton, New Jersey, Governor Thomas Kean co-hosted the meeting with the New Jersey Governor's School for Public Issues and the Board of Overseers for Governor's Schools for the state. Bylaws for the association were ratified there.

In October 1990 at Winston-Salem, North Carolina, home of the original Governor's School, the fourth annual conference honored now Senator Terry Sanford. The conferees began at this meeting to examine seriously the role of governor's schools in the context of the educational reform movement.

The first meeting of the now fully credentialed Board of Directors was convened and the first slate of officers elected. Attachments A and B list past and current directors and board members. [Note: These attachments were not contained in the records in which this summary was found.]

In 1989, Governor Gaston Caperton of West Virginia flew to the New Jersey conference to invite the national association to meet at the Greenbriar in West Virginia in 1991. The conference was held there on schedule, followed by the Richmond, Virginia conference in 1992. The 1993 conference is scheduled at the College of Charleston Conference Center, November 18-21, in Charleston, South Carolina. The official hotel is The Hampton Inn on historic Meeting Street.