"Everyone has intelligence, we ask not 'How much?' but, more importantly, 'What kind?'"
Dr. Mary Meeker, a psychologist living in Manhattan Beach from 1955 until 1968, died of breast cancer in Vida, Oregon on October 4, 2003. She was 82. She founded the SOI (Structure of Intellect) Institute for testing and training of children's intelligence in 1969.
She received her doctorate in educational psychology from USC. She received teacher, school psychology and pupil personnel credentials from California, and a clinical psychology license. She touched thousands of people's lives worldwide because she believed that all children have intelligence and that it can be trained.
She was a professor at USC, Loyola-Marymount and Cal State Northridge. She served as a distinguished professor lecturing at Harvard, the University of British Columbia and Toronto, and the University of Belgium. She was perhaps best known as a contributor, and as a board member for 10 years, to the National Association for Gifted Children.
A member of the American Psychological Association, Dr. Meeker was awarded Education Leader of the Year in 1981. She was selected by the U.S. Office of Education as one of the five social scientists whose work held promise for education in the next century. In 2003, she was selected by the International Center for Studies in Creativity as one of the 50 most creative professional women in America.
Dr. Meeker was included in Who's Who in American Science. She was a relative of Kahlil Gibran so it is not surprising that she loved poetry. She became a watercolorist in her early '70's.
She is survived by her husband, Robert Meeker in Oregon; three daughters, Jessica Anderson-Maxwell, a writer, of Eugene Or., Dr. Valerie Maxwell, a psychologist, of Manhattan Beach, and Heather Meeker, an attorney in Palo Alto, Ca. Her two grandchildren, Amber and Jesse Wilson attended Manhattan Beach schools.
· Born in Louisiana in 1921
· Attended University of Texas at age 15 and graduated with a BSc in Industrial Psychology
· Married, moved to California and had two children
· Worked for a psychiatrist
· Received provisional teaching certification and taught students with severe developmental delays as well as students in grades 2 through 4. This teaching experience was the beginning of her life work to determine the best method to address learning gaps in children and adults
· Divorced, continued to work as a psychologist in the school system, and began graduate studies in educational psychology at the University of Southern California, ultimately earning a MSc, a MEd and later an EdD
· Studied under Dr. J. P. Guilford at USC who recognized her as one of the brightest graduate students he had ever taught
· Took a position as a Human Factors Specialist at Systems Development Corporation where she met Robert Meeker, a scientist who would become her husband
· Published extensively on creativity for the preschool child and evaluation of gifted children
· Received an EdD from USC, 1966
· Doctoral dissertation focused on the correlation of memory and school achievement
· Publication of her book, The Structure of Intellect: Its Uses and Applications (1969), which was a milestone in school-related assessment and broke new ground.
· Full professor at California State University in the psychology program
· Saw the potential for applying Guilford's SI as this allowed intelligence to be precisely measured, an individual’s aptitude in various areas to be identified, and intellectual abilities to be remediated or improved using specific learning materials that targets a specific ability
· She termed this application of Guilford’s theory “SOI”
· Developed, normed and validated the SOI-LA (Structure of Intellect - Learning Abilities)
· SOI-LA was widely used by school districts for admission into gifted and special education programs – although this approach was very controversial
· Designed to target learning disabilities by assessing, identifying specific abilities for remediation and then training the identified abilities so the individual learns to perform more complex tasks
· SOI has also been connected to Gardner’s theory of Multiple Intelligences
· In 1975 opened the SOI Institute with her husband Robert Meeker. This was a business focused on producing SOI assessment and educational materials, offering training for educators, and conducting research
· California Committee for Assessing Disadvantaged, 1970
· Continued to publish extensively regarding assessment and education for both students who were gifted and those with learning disabilities
· Named to the California Commission for Education, 1981
· Named Education Leader of the Year, 1981
· Selected by the U.S. Office of Education as one of five social scientists whose work held promise for education in the 21st century
· Developed the Integrated Practice Protocol (IPP) with her husband. This process incorporated intelligence, vision, and sensory integration assessment and remediation
· Retirement – sort of!
· Became a semi-professional watercolour painter
· Continued to consult and run training workshops until a few months prior to her death
· Deceased 2003
· 2003 - Selected by the International Center for Studies in Creativity, Syracuse, New York, as one of the fifty most creative professional women in America
· After Mary's death, her husband Dr. Robert Meeker continued her work at the SOI Institute and this work is carried on today by her daughter Valerie, who is also a psychologist
Piirto, J., & Keller-Mathers, S. (2014). Mary Meeker: A Deep Commitment to Recognizing Individual Differences. In A. Robinson and J. Jolly (Eds.). Illuminating lives: A century of contributions to gifted education (pp. 277-288). New York, NY: Routledge. (retrieved Mar 25, 2019 from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/272416346_Piirto_J_Keller-Mathers_S_2014_Mary_Meeker_A_Deep_Commitment_to_Recognizing_Individual_Differences_In_A_Robinson_and_J_Jolly_Eds_Illuminating_lives_A_century_of_contributions_to_gifted_education_pp_27)