PRENTISS, JENNIE WARREN (17 October 1870-5 April 1946) was a women’s educator who was a founder of the predecessor to LAUREL SCHOOL.  She was born in Cuyahoga County, Cleveland, Ohio to parents Chauncey Prentiss and Emily Hanks.

Prentiss was classically educated, and saw the need to give other girls the same educational opportunities she had. In 1896 Prentiss founded Miss Prentiss’ Home School, or Wade Park Home School, which would be renamed the Laurel Institute in 1904, and then the Laurel School in 1927. Prentiss hired teachers who had studied with experts in the education field, with the goal to solve problems that “concern character building, physical health, and the actual training of pupils in all such subjects of vital importance as shall best fit them.”

Prentiss hoped to help young girls more clearly express themselves through their words, and offered a dual education track at her school: an option for girls who hoped to pursue higher education and continue on to college, and one for girls who would be homemakers, managing the running of their homes.        

She also believed in practicing temperance in schools, and was a frequent speaker at meetings of the Non-Partisan Women’s Christian Temperance Union on the methods of instruction on temperance in schools. She associated practicing temperance with self-control and good judgement as taught in schools. Specifically, Prentiss approached temperance from a scientific standpoint, educating students on the scientific reasons alcohol should not be consumed.

Women’s societies also attracted her attention and involvement.  She presented at such events as education day, the Non-Partisan W.C.T.U., hosted the President of the Household Economic Association and entertained the Women’s Press Club. All of these activities were carried out with the additional goal of promoting her school, and providing the girls in attendance opportunities to interact with these groups.

On June 16, 1903, Prentiss married physician William Rankin in the Euclid Avenue Congregational church.

Prentiss died April 5, 1946, likely in Newark, OH, and was survived by her husband.

Grace Howard

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