Giant #7: Pat Wolfe

Giant #7

Pat Wolfe

“if I have seen further [than others], it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

1675 letter by Isaac Newton:


In the early 90s, a former giant (Art Costa) introduced me to Pat Wolfe.  Giants know other giants. Pat was learning and sharing information on emerging brain research.  I remember sitting in Pat’s kitchen with Art talking about the applications of brain research with thinking skills and learning.  Pat made the point that while there was a great deal of information being uncovered with those on the front lines with those studying the brain, it would be the educators who decide how this new research would assist students, staff, and society on how to increase effective learning and teaching.  I knew then, what I know now, I will learn from and with Pat.

Over 30 years ago Pat started holding yearly sessions, called the ‘Brainy Bunch,’ with some of us who couldn’t get enough or fast enough learning about brain research and the applications.  Pat was a well-attended presenter at National Staff Development Council (now Learning Forward) annual meetings and was providing training in many parts of the nation.  Her ability to keep up with emerging concepts, technology, and applications was amazing.  Pat told us that her focus was on the brain and would continue to absorb, apply in her teaching us, and stay curious about what knowledge continues to unfold.  Pat is more than a quality person; she is selfless in sharing what she was reading and learning.  I REMAIN GRATEFUL.

At the yearly Brainy Bunch meetings in Napa, CA, Pat would arrange to provide our group access to the most current, competent, contributors enhancing our understanding of the brain and how it could increase learning.  I must also honor those colleagues who continued to show up in Napa, learn, and spread the newest understanding. I am grateful for the opportunity to learn from everyone.

Another benefit for me was bringing three parents, two teachers, and another colleague to Napa, CA one year.  As the principal and developing a team who had a common interest in elevating our kids learning,  was exciting for our school.  Pat, no surprise, was inviting and inspiring to all who came.  What a gift.

Another seminal moment for me was when Skip and I were thinking about hosting Learning Omnivores events and trying to decide how to move this idea to reality, Pat came to the rescue.  Pat said, ‘why don’t you invite people to Napa, and I’ll host it.’  The idea was born.  The first Learning Omnivore event was held in Pat Wolfe’s living room where Art Costa and Pat Wolfe discussed Brain Research and Thinking Skills.  The next year we returned to Napa and hosted David Perkins at a hotel with 40 people in attendance.  I will never forget Art coaching David Perkins in front of the room with 40 people in awe of watching the thinking process in action.

It has been over 30 years since I met Pat and have benefitted from every minute.  She provided an opportunity to learn and accelerate my own and others thinking.  Even though the Brainy Bunch no longer meets, I am so grateful to the colleagues who continue to extend my learning.  What a great bunch of learners led by a committed contributor. Pat is truly a giant and I am fortunate to know her.

What a ride it has been knowing Pat.  Her authenticity, humor, and knowledge has been a gift to me.  Mahalo dear friend.  Who Knew?