Marva Collins opened her own school in Chicago in 1975. She took the $5,000 savings from her retirement fund, and used it to convert the second floor of her home. It was a drastic step necessitated by her thorough dissatisfaction with the poor quality of education in the Chicago public schools where she had been teaching for fourteen years. The rest of her story is legendary; children who the school system had labeled as “un-teachable” became scholars under her tutelage. Her academic program begins with high standards and expectations. Her motto is, “Every child is a born achiever.” The corollary to the credo is, “until somebody convinces the child to the contrary.”
To illustrate the power of her belief system, consider this: Her school has been featured twice on national television by 60 Minutes, sixteen years apart. In the first episode, a little girl named Erica was a student. Erica’s mother was told with Erica sitting next to her that, “Your daughter is border-line retarded, learning disabled. She can never learn to read.” That was the pronouncement by the experts in the Chicago public school system. That was when Erica was enrolled in the Marva Collins Preparatory, then known as Westside Preparatory. When 60 Minutes returned, the program documented that Erica had just graduated from a University in Virginia, with high honors, Summa Cum Laude. (So much for “border-line retarded!)
Marva Collins has trained thousands of educators in America and from other nations. She encourages the home schooling movement, because so many of our nation’s schools are failing our children. Her commitment is to assist parents by teaching them how to select reading materials based on the ideals, moral lesson, lofty notions, and other content that is worthy of discussion or debate. The objective is to train children to think and to reason critically. In her classes, students are required to speak in Standard English, in complete sentences, and with clarity of thought. Each lesson is designed to teach all of the language arts’ skills.
Homeschooling parents learn quickly that programs for their children are very costly and that there are many to choose from. She offers advice on how to minimize costs, and she has made available, to parents, the educational materials she has developed for use in her own school. These materials are effective, and proven to be very successful. To illustrate the latter point, children as young as four years of age are admitted to her school in September each year, at the beginning of the new academic year. She guarantees that ALL will be reading by Christmas, in just three months. That has been the objective and the results every year since she opened her school in 1975. You can imagine how exasperating it is for her to observe children in the 4th grade and above who are not reading anywhere near grade level. Teachers claim that they are ordered to “teach to the test.” The methods utilized in many schools are mindless and do not, and cannot, teach the children how to express themselves thoughtfully, both orally and in writing. The results of what is occurring, today in our classrooms, has forced parents to seek other options for the education of their children.
Ms. Collins’ works and her passionate dedication to the education of children has earned her many awards, from Presidents of the United States, honorary university degrees, and much, much more. Yet, the fact is she is unimpressed by awards. As she says, “The only thing I take pride in is that I have never lost a child.”
You are invited to learn more about Marva Collins, and you may do so by visiting her web site at, www.marvacollins.com. And, if you have any questions regarding the education of your children, you may call her, toll-free, at (800) 724-6650.
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