Synopsis by Hal Erickson
When the story of the real-life Marva Collins was nationally telecast on 60 Minutes in 1979, residents of Chicago had been intimately familiar with the accomplishments of Ms. Collins for at least four years. After 14 years of teaching in Chicago's dead-end public school system, Marva used $5000 of her retirement money to open her own school. In 1975 she established Westside Preparatory School--in her own West Side home, with a student body of six. There was no nonsense and no frills in Collins' school; she utilized pragmatism and common sense in her efforts to teach the six "incorrigibles" she'd inherited from Chicago's antediluvian school system. The Marva Collins Story traces Westside Prep's first year, during which, despite opposition from the teaching establishment and from her students' own parents, Ms. Collins managed not only to teach her kids to read, write and reason, but also to gain an appreciation for such literary giants as Chaucer and Shakespeare. To bolster her students' self-confidence, Marva had them stand up and give oral presentations of what they'd learned. While her technique was considered controversial (especially among those bleeding hearts who felt that students should never be forced to think), Marva Collins's school survived its first year; by the time this 1981 TV-movie was made, she was teaching 200 ghetto students in a sophisticated building complex. Narrated by Edward Asner and starring Cicely Tyson in the title role, the all-but-flawless Marva Collins Story was originally telecast as a Hallmark Hall of Fame special.
education, achievement, child, ghetto, inner-city, instructor, national, public, public-school, recognition [fame], school, schoolteacher, student, teacher, urban