Published: November 18, 2012
Dr. MARY PRENTICE, age 81 of Little Rock, a noted educator of gifted education in Arkansas, was born in Fort Worth, Texas, on April 3, 1931, and died peacefully after a lengthy illness. At age fifteen, she began her college education as the first female to enter Rice University. Shortly after entering college, she met Tom Prentice, a young minister; they married and within four years she and her husband (and three children) accepted the calling to enter the mission field in Brazil for several years as a missionary team, where she represented the Church Women United, New York, in Columbia, as Adult Literacy Consultant, providing technical assistance, as well as serving as a consultant to the National Presbyterian Church (Brazil) on Literacy. Upon returning to the states and raising her children, she received her BSE and MA from Southeast Missouri State University, as well as other professional training in Brazil, England, Italy, Greece, and Spain. For three years, she served as project director for the newly formed Missouri Migrant Program in Malden, Mo., a program that taught migrant workers to read and write.
On her 50th birthday, when others might be considering retirement, Mary enrolled in Purdue University to receive a Ph.D. in educational psychology for the gifted, while simultaneously serving as state director of Gifted and Talented Services for Indiana. Her role in gifted and talented education became her calling.
Returning to Arkansas, she taught graduate classes as assistant professor in the Department of Teacher Education for Gifted at UALR for over a decade, both on the campus and in every corner of the state, so that working teachers might attend at night during weekdays. During her tenure at UALR, she received the Excellence in Teaching Award for both the College of Education and for UALR in 1990, as well as the Faculty Excellence in Service Award in 1996. She was invited to be the keynote speaker at both national and state gifted and talented conferences and served as a consultant and graduate teacher in Mexico and Alaska for several summers.
Mary worked closely with the Aerospace Education Center of Arkansas in outreach programs for gifted students, as well as directing the Astronaut and Cosmonaut Symposium in 1991. Through her contacts with the space program, she was able to provide opportunities for six Arkansas educators yearly to view the shuttle launches with families of astronauts in Cape Kennedy, Fla.
She served on many advisory committees, including the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation; Leadership Development for Arkansas Academy of Leadership Training and School Board Management; and the Environmental and Spatial Technology (EAST) Initiative. She was appointed by Governor Bill Clinton to the Committee for Restructuring School for Higher Order Learning.
In 1995, she served as a visiting professor at the University of Graz, Austria, for one semester. During her teaching years, Mary was the founding editor of AGEM (Arkansas Gifted Education Magazine) for six years, as well at the author of two curriculum books on applying the multiple intelligence theory for gifted education. She supported the arts by working with Wildwood Park in their outreach to Arkansas schools through planning, securing funding, and presenting workshops on integrating fine arts into the curriculum.
Although her work in the areas of gifted education, space education, and fine arts integration was noteworthy, Mary personified service to others as a personal and professional creed by consulting with gifted children in area schools. Known for her gift with words, her profundity of expressions, and her tireless energy, classes and audiences remember her zest for life that was so evident in her personality and her spirit.
Mary was a member of 2nd Presbyterian Church of Little Rock. She is survived by two sons, Thomas Prentice and Daniel Prentice; a daughter, Renie Rule of Little Rock; four grandchildren; two great-grandchildren and a host of friends and students. Funeral services will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 21 at 10 o'clock at Second Presbyterian Church. Memorials may be sent to Second Presbyterian Church.
Please visit www.cremationsofarkansas.com to sign the online guest register.