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Remembering Dr. Marcia Gentry

The Arizona Association for Gifted and Talented Board of Directors, the Association’s members, and the entire community of gifted supporters in Arizona mourn the loss of Dr. Marcia Gentry who passed away on August 31, 2022.

At the time of her passing, Dr. Gentry was a Professor of Gifted, Talented, and Creative Studies in the Department of Educational Studies at Purdue University. She also served as the Director of Gifted Education Research and Resource Institute (GER2I) at the University.

Dr. Gentry’s work made her a leader in the field of gifted with her multi-prong approach to advocacy for underrepresented populations. She was particularly interested in turning research into practice. Many teachers of the gifted found her Total School Cluster Grouping model provided the means to increase the inclusion of gifted students from underrepresented populations in advanced coursework with the improvement of teacher practices and incorporation of gifted strategies for all students.

Along with her colleagues at Purdue (including Arizona’s own Dr. Jason McIntosh) Dr. Gentry’s work included the creation of the HOPE Scale to help teachers identify academic as well as social and affective components of giftedness in students from low-income and culturally diverse backgrounds. In addition, she led a decades-long program of research to provide educational programming for gifted and talented youth that was inclusive and expanded opportunities for academic excellence and psychosocial development among historically underserved populations.

Under Dr. Gentry’s leadership, GER2I launched the Native American Research Initiative, an effort to expand access to gifted and talented programming focused on the needs of Native American, Alaska Native, and Indigenous gifted, creative, and talented students. Students in Arizona participated in the research and were recipients of the new approach to programs and teaching strategies developed from the research. At the 2017 AAGT annual conference, Dr. Gentry challenged our thinking with her address, “Identification and Programming Equity: Why Should We Care and What Can We Do About It?”. While inequity in gifted education in Arizona had been widely known, Dr. Gentry’s perspective cast a light on the urgency to rectify the disproportionate lack of underserved populations in gifted education.

In 2019, Dr. Gentry and her colleagues at Purdue published their findings of data to specifically provide evidence of inequality among every group of students attending schools in our state. This research and data were instrumental in Legislation in Arizona in 2021, to fund Universal Screening for all second graders in the state.

For those of us who knew her simply as, “Marcia” she was a dynamic force of nature who inspired and challenged us to do more than just talk about issues but to boldly seek solutions and work for change. Her legacy will carry on and for that, we will all be grateful. Dr. Jason McIntosh agreed to share his thoughts about our friend and colleague, Marcia Gentry.

Dr. Gentry led with reason and fortitude. She did not have time for excuses, pity parties, or gossip sessions. If she knew something needed to be done to fix a problem (and she had the means to fix it), she was going to make it happen. For that, and many other reasons, she has left a void in our field we must challenge ourselves to fill. That is the best way to keep her legacy strong. Thank you, Dr. Gentry, for being authentically you! And, as I always signed off in our communications with each other, HUGS!

This message remembering Dr. Marcia Gentry was crafted by Donna Campbell M.Ed, Arizona Association for Gifted and Talented Advocacy Committee and National Association for Gifted Children Public Policy and Advocacy Committee Chair.

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