Marva Collins taught school for two years in Alabama, then moved to Chicago, where she taught in public schools for 14 years. Her experiences in that system, coupled with her dissatisfaction with the quality of education that her two youngest children were receiving in prestigious private schools, convinced her that children deserved better than what was passing for acceptable education. She took the $5,000 balance in her school pension fund and opened her own school on the second floor of her home.
The Westside Preparatory School was founded in 1975 in Garfield Park, a Chicago inner-city area. During the first year, Collins took in learning disabled, problem children and even one child who had been labeled by Chicago public school authorities as borderline retarded. At the end of the first year, every child scored at least five grades higher proving that the previous labels placed on these children were misguided. 60 Minutes, visited her school for the second time in 1996. That little girl who had been labeled as border line retarded, graduated from college Summa Cum Laude. Marva's graduates entered colleges and universities, such as Harvard, Yale, and Stanford. They became physicians, lawyers, engineers, and educators. In 1996 she began supervising three Chicago public schools that had been placed on probation. In 1981, she received the Award for Greatest Public Service Benefiting the Disadvantaged, an award given out annually by the Jefferson Awards. In 2004 she received a National Humanities Medal for her teaching and efforts at school reform.
Why is this book by Marva Collins so important? It is because this
book represents her life, her convictions, and her work. Indeed,
America would be infinitely better served if Marva Collins'
philosophy of education somehow could become franchised and
implemented on a national scale.
--Alex Haley, author of ROOTS
Collins' unswerving faith in the abilities of her students and
her 'tough love' approach are inspirational.
--Library Journal Marva Collins has something to say to the nation's educators and anyone else interested in the education of children. It's refreshing to read about an educator's abiding belief in her students and to watch--through the pages of her book--as she turns hopeless, hostile youngsters into eager and ambitious achievers.
--The Detroit Free Press This is the book that motivated me to become a teacher and demonstrates the power that teachers and other role models can have on shaping the lives of children. Marva Collins is an inspiration and this book should be required reading for anyone interested in education.
--The Uncomfortable Optimist The success of Marva's method has been astounding. Anyone who is teaching, who is considering teaching, anyone who is homeschooling, or who simply loves children, will find this book fascinating.
--The Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) This gifted dynamo of a teacher told the students in her first private, one-room Westside Preparatory School: ''I'm your friend and I'm going to help you all the time and I'm going to love you all the time. I love you already and I'm going to love you even when you don't love yourself.'' Her method: to convince the children she cares; that they can trust her; that they can accomplish anything they want to; that learning to read is hard work but they will learn. Her promise: ''I will not allow you to fail.'' Nothing can lessen the reader's admiration for a brave, brilliant woman who dares to believe in children when no one else will.
--Christian Science Monitor The Collins charisma makes for lively reading.
--Kirkus Reviews This book is a continuous inspiration to us showing how only one person's deep love and unwavering belief in her students' abilities made a world of difference in their lives.
--Heart of Inspiration At its best it may influence you, in whatever role you have with children or education, to raise the standards and to stand up to a failing system in whatever way is applicable in your life.
--The Thinking Mother