More than 200 Little Rock School District officials, government and business leaders, students and the family of Southeast Arkansas native Dr. Marian G. Lacey recently gathered at construction site of the Dr. Marian G. Lacey K-8 Academy in Little Rock, a new $87 million school for students in southwest Little Rock.

Dr. Lacey was born and raised in Dermott and was a Chicot County High School graduate. She was an educator, principal, and assistant superintendent at the Little Rock School District (LRSD) where she served for more than 30 years before her death in 2017. She was named a Milken educator and the highest teacher award in the Little Rock School District was named in her honor. She also taught at Eudora, Helena, and Clarendon. Her husband, Dr. JJ Lacey, Jr., originally from Vicksburg, Mississippi, is also a former educator and administrator in Southeast Arkansas and the Little Rock School District.

“The impressive crowd was evident of my sister’s life well-lived,” said Lacey’s brother, Judge Don Glover, of Dermott. Southeast Arkansas. “It was particularly wonderful to have the larger ‘Dermott family’ and so many from southeast Arkansas share first-hand in this momentous, historic occasion, including Rev. Charles Graham, who sang the National Anthem and provided music.”

In addition to having a school bear her name, Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott, Jr., one of Lacey’s former students, proclaimed May 4, 2022, to be Dr. Marian G. Lacey Day in Little Rock.

The school is under construction on a 13-acre site in southwest Little Rock where the old John L. McClellan High School was located. The school closed in 2020 and is being razed.

Construction of the Dr. Marian G. Lacey K-8 Academy is expected to be completed in late 2023. The school will accomodate 1,400 students and more than 258 teachers. It will include 64 classrooms, project labs, a media center, other specialized spaces for teaching and learning, and will be the first school in the Little Rock School District to house a tornado shelter, according to Cromwell Architects.

The school will also accommodate community events.

The community and students played a big role in selecting the name for the new building, according to Darian Smith, Director of Elementary Education at the Little Rock School District. A vast majority of the vote supported naming the new building in honor of Dr. Marian Glover Lacey, he said.

Glover said the new school is visionary. “In my view, this new school anticipates the future,” he said. “Its cutting-edge design allows for visionary teaching and learning experiences to provide a strong educational foundation and vision for career interests during the formative years.”

Reflecting on his sister’s legacy, Glover expressed a shared family belief.

“It is my hope that everyone who enters this new school — children, teachers, parents and the community at-large — will experience the joy of teaching, learning, child development experiences, and other engagements in this building, as our dear sister, Marian, would desire. Her legacy is one of building hope and aspiration in each child,” Glover said.


Rendering of Dr. Marian G. Lacey K-8 Academy, provided by Cromwell Architects and Engineers