Marva Collins

Marva Collins (1938-2015) grew up and was educated in the South but spent most of her professional life in Chicago. After teaching at Chicago Public Schools for 14 years, her frustration with that school system led her to open her own school for Garfield Park neighborhood children in the second floor of her home. Within a year, Westside Preparatory School students scored at least five grades higher than their grade level on standardized tests. She quickly got the attention of 60 Minutes, Good Morning America, Time and other media giants. A television movie, The Marva Collins Story, profiled her life and work.

Collins turned down offers from both President Ronald Reagan and President George H. W. Bush to become the Secretary of Education because she wanted to continue to develop Westside Preparatory School. In 1996 Collins returned to Chicago Public Schools where she supervised the three worst schools in the system. In just six months, student learning improved by 85%. Collins trained over 100,000 teachers and established schools in Ohio, Florida and Wisconsin. She received the National Humanities Medal in 2004.

Why this stop? Westside Preparatory School (sadly, now closed) was a mile north of the Pulaski Green Line stop.

Learn more about Marva Collins’ life and work as an educator by watching The Marva Collins Story starring Cicely Tyson and Morgan Freeman (currently streaming on Amazon Prime).

Get involved — Stay on top of current Chicago Public School issues by subscribing to Chalkbeat Chicago and learn how you can advocate for education equity in Chicago.