IN REMEMBRANCE: 7-5-2015

MARVA COLLINS, EDUCATOR WHO AIMED HIGH FOR POOR, BLACK STUDENTS

Marva Collins in 1983. In 1980, President-elect Ronald Reagan was said to be considering her for secretary of education. Credit Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Her death was confirmed by Hospice Care of the Lowcountry in Bluffton, S.C.

After working as a substitute teacher for 14 years in Chicago public schools, Ms. Collins cashed in her $5,000 in pension savings and opened Westside Preparatory School in 1975. The school originally operated in the basement of a local college and then, to be free of red tape (the same reason she said she had refused federal funds), in the second floor of her home.

She began with four students, including her daughter, charging $80 a month in tuition. Enrollment at the school, on Chicago’s South Side, grew to more than 200, in classes from prekindergarten through eighth grade. It remained in operation for more than 30 years.

Ms. Collins set high academic standards, emphasized discipline and promoted a nurturing environment. She taught phonics, the Socratic method and the classics and, she insisted, never expected her students to fail.

“Kids don’t fail,” she once said. “Teachers fail, school systems fail. The people who teach children that they are failures — they are the problem.”

At Westside Prep, she said in 2004 when she was awarded the National Humanities Medal, “there are no dropouts, no substitute teachers, and when teachers are absent, the students teach themselves.”

“We’re an anomaly in a world of negatives,” she added. “Our children are self-motivated, self-generating, self-propelled.”

An article about the school in 1977 in The Chicago Sun-Times attracted national attention. She was later the subject of a “60 Minutes” segment and of “The Marva Collins Story,” a 1981 television movie on CBS with Cicely Tyson playing Ms. Collins and Morgan Freeman as her husband. She even appeared briefly in a video for Prince’s song “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World.”

As her stature as an educator grew, she began to train other teachers from around the country and published several books, including “ ‘Ordinary’ Children, Extraordinary Teachers” and “Marva Collins’ Way,” written with Civia Tamarkin. Speaking engagements followed.

In 1980, President-elect Ronald Reagan was said to be leaning toward choosing Ms. Collins for secretary of education, but she said she would reject the job if it were offered. By that time she had already turned down offers to run the public school systems in Chicago and Los Angeles.

Marva Delores Knight was born in Monroeville, Ala., on Aug. 31, 1936. Her father, Henry, was a merchant, cattleman and undertaker. Her mother was the former Bessie Nettles.

Raised in Atmore, near Mobile, in the segregated South, she graduated from Clark College in Atlanta, now Clark Atlanta University, and taught in Alabama schools before moving to Chicago. There she worked as a medical secretary before becoming a substitute public-school teacher.

She married Clarence Collins, who died in 1995. They had three children, two of whom, Eric and Patrick, survive her, as does her mother, Bessie Mae Johnson; a sister, Cynthia Sutton; and her second husband, George R. Franklin.

In 1982, Ms. Collins was stung by accusations that she was not certified as a teacher and that she had overstated her record of success, but parents of the children in her school rallied to her defense. Her supporters said that as a substitute teacher she had not needed formal certification; others said their children had shown great progress after enrolling in the school.

“I’ve never said I’m a superteacher, a miracle worker, all those names they gave me,” she told The New York Times that year. “It’s unfair to expect me to live up to it. I’m just a teacher.”

Ms. Collins later turned over the operation of Westside Prep to her daughter, Cynthia. It closed in 2008, with annual tuition at $5,500 and enrollment dwindling.

Ms. Collins moved to Hilton Head, S.C., where she organized programs to train teachers and administrators.

She insisted that she never craved awards or publicity. All she wanted, she told The Island Packet, the local newspaper, in 2007, was “to be able to say I got an A-plus on the assignment God gave me.”

SOURCE

Never was there a more devoted, conscientious and loving woman than Ms. Marva Collins.

At a time when so many could cared less for the lives and education of Black children, Ms. Collins stood proud and tall in her resoluteness to be the best she could be for the educational welfare of poor and forgotten Black children.

She was one of a kind.

She was in a class by herself.

She will be missed.

Rest in peace, Ms. Marva Collins.

Rest in peace.

*********************************************************

CHRIS SQUIRE, FOUNDING BASSIST WITH THE ROCK BAND YES

Chris Squire, right, with Jon Anderson of Yes in 1977. Credit Richard Drew/Associated Press

His death was confirmed by the band’s keyboardist, Geoffrey Downes. Mr. Squire, the only member to have played on every one of Yes’s albums and participated in every one of its tours, was being treated for acute erythroid leukemia and said last month that he would not be with Yes for its summer and fall tour, scheduled to begin on Aug. 7.

“I’m in pieces over it,” Mr. Downes said in a phone interview from his home in Wales. “The guy was a total legend.”

Yes, formed in 1968, was known for its blend of rock, jazz, folk and classical influences and also for its complex time signatures and pristine vocal harmonies. One of the first of the so-called progressive (or prog) rock bands — among the others were King Crimson and Emerson, Lake & Palmer — it went on to become the most successful and longest-lasting.

The first Yes albums to reach a wide international audience were the group’s third and fourth, “The Yes Album” (1971) and “Fragile” (1972), both released in the United States on Atlantic. The group’s most recent studio album, “Heaven & Earth,” was released by Frontiers Records last year.

Mr. Squire’s propulsive and often melodic bass playing was a key element of the Yes sound. A self-taught virtuoso, he has been cited as an influence by many other rock bassists.

He also sang harmony vocals and had a hand in writing some of Yes’s best-known songs, including “I’ve Seen All Good People” and “Owner of a Lonely Heart,” recorded in 1983 when the group reunited after a three-year hiatus, which became Yes’s first and only No. 1 single.

“He had an approach that contrasted sharply with the somewhat monotonic, immobile bass parts of today,” Bill Bruford, Yes’s original drummer, said in a statement on Sunday. “His lines were important; countermelodic structural components that you were as likely to go away humming as the top line melody; little stand-alone works of art in themselves.”

Christopher Russell Edward Squire was born on March 4, 1948, in London, and became a professional musician not long after leaving high school. He was with a band called the Syn before he teamed with the vocalist Jon Anderson, the guitarist Peter Banks, the keyboardist Tony Kaye and Mr. Bruford to form Yes.

Mr. Banks, who left after two albums and was replaced by Steve Howe, died in 2013. Mr. Anderson and the keyboardist Rick Wakeman, who joined in 1971, have left and rejoined Yes several times and are not currently with the band; so has Mr. Howe, who is. Mr. Squire was the last original member still on board.

Mr. Squire in 2006. Credit Michael Buckner/Getty Images

Rolling Stone recently ranked “Fragile” and the band’s follow-up album, “Close to the Edge” (1972), in the Top 10 of its 50 Greatest Prog Rock Albums of All Time.

Mr. Squire had lived in Phoenix for several years. His survivors include his wife, Scotland, and five children, Carmen, Chandrika, Camille, Cameron and Xilan.

An announcement of his death on Yes’s Facebook page said in part, “For the entirety of Yes’s existence, Chris was the band’s linchpin and, in so many ways, the glue that held it together over all these years.”

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