Pulaski County is home to many fascinating people, the Daily Guide recently talked with one of these people. As an educator, author, publisher, and encourager of dreams, Mike Prater certainly fits the bill of fascinating person
Prater’s passion to encourage and help people began in 1974 when he began teaching and, for seven years, was the math department at Crocker High School.
Prater grew up on a farm in between Iberia and Crocker. He graduated from Iberia High School and continued on to Missouri State University where he received a bachelor's degree in math, later going on to get his master’s degree at Drury University and his Ph.D. in education from the University of Missouri at Columbia.
His career choice was influenced by teachers he had in school, and by encouraging mentors in the Waynesville School district. He chose math because “we all have God given interests and talents and mine is math and science.”
Prater left the teaching field for a brief three year period while he pursued other careers. After three years, he knew teaching was his calling.
Prater had a wonderful opportunity to teach in the Waynesville public schools. He began teaching in what was then, the old middle school. He taught 9th grade science for one year then moved with his students to the high school.
“When I started teaching with the Waynesville School District, suddenly I felt like I was home. Something in me was looking for the level of professionalism that I saw at the Waynesville Schools. The teachers were interested in kids, talking about kids, and working with kids. An expectation was placed on me by my fellow teachers to do my best in teaching kids. It was a breath of fresh air. I loved the Waynesville School DIstrict, the culture and the high expectations the district had for their teachers.”
Prater taught general science, algebra, and pre algebra for 9th -11th graders.
“I thoroughly loved teaching and loved teaching kids,” Prater said.
In the early 1990s, he left the classroom and became an A plus coordinator for the high school. As the high school grew, it became necessary to add an assistant principal position. Prater’s duties expanded to include assistant principal along with A plus coordinator.
In 1999, Prater had an opportunity to move into the central office. His title and new job was Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction. Some aspects of his assistant superintendent position were textbook review, testing assessment, data, and all that involved kid learning.
Prater retired in 2009 and told the Daily Guide in a 2009 interview that hewanted to focus on spending time with his family and travelling. He also told the Daily Guide he had a dream he wanted to chase. That dream included publishing, writing, andindependent consulting.
In July 2009, GreenLife Publications was started by Prater and his wife.
GreenLife is a small publishing company, located in downtown Waynesville, which publishes books, in the education or inspirational field. Prater said the name GreenLife has a spiritual significance. It comes from Psalm 1, one of his favorite Bible verses.
“He shall be like a tree planted by river that brings forth fruit in its season and whose leaf does not wither and whatever he does shall prosper.”
The goal of GreenLife Publications is “to help people develop their dream by publishing their book.”
The first book published by Prater was a collection of quotes for teachers entitled “Great Quotes for Teachers.” The book is a collection of inspirational and motivational sayings, written by the “famous and not so famous, for all educators.”
Prater’s first novel, “ The Long Road Home” started with an idea by Prater, a history buff, who has always enjoyed creative writing. His novel is set in a small town in the Ozarks. When a young man comes back to the Ozarks to attend to family matters he becomes involved in murder, mystery, and Civil War codes.
Prater is now working on a sequel to “The Long Road Home.” The sequel, also set in a small town in the Ozarks, has the main character from “The Long Road Home” tangled up in another mystery.
Prater is still involved in education. He serves as a consultant for schools and other organizations. Because of his skills in middle echelon management, leadership, and organizational development he is in great demand.
He serves on the state council for North Central Organization and the Missouri State Council.
He takes a lead team into schools for accreditation five times a year.
Prater said, “I keep my fingers in the education pie” by working with North Central and peer review editors for journals and by making presentations at conferences.
As busy as Prater has been “chasing the dream,” he always finds time for family, grandchildren and travel with his wife. His favorite hobbies, or “his happy place,” are writing creatively, woodworking and making furniture.
What are Prater’s future plans?
Prater told the Daily Guide, “I’m still trying to figure out what I want to do when I grow up.”
Spending time with his family, especially his grandchildren, writing, publishing, and encouraging people in all aspects of life are just a few areas of interest in Prater's future plans.