Teacher; educational innovator. Born– August 31, 1936, Monroeville. Parents– Alex L. and Bessis Maye (Knight) Nettles. Married– Clarence Collins, September 2, 1961. Children– Three. Education– Clark College in Atlanta, B.A., 1957; attended Chicago Teachers College and Columbia College, 1965-1967. Taught at Monroeville, 1957-1959; taught in the Chicago Public Schools, 1960-1975. Founded the Westside Prep School in the Garfield Park neighborhood of Chicago, 1975, and operated it 1975-2008. Operated Marva Collins Seminars, conducting workshops on educational methods, after 2008.  Member of the International Platform Association, Alpha Kappa Alpha, and the Baptist Church. Member of many professional organizations and boards.  Awarded honorary degrees by Howard University, Wilberforce University, Dartmouth College, and Amherst College and was the subject of the film, “The Marva Collins Story”. Received the Educator of the Year Award, 1981; the Jefferson Award for the Greatest Public Service Benefiting the Disadvantaged, 1981; named a “Legendary Woman of the World” by the City of Birmingham, 1982; awarded the National Humanities Medal by President Bush, 2004. Died June 28, 2015.


Who’s Who of American Women, 1983; obituary, New York Times, June 28, 2015.


Black Education and the Inner City.  Washington:  Lincoln Institute for Research and Education, 1981.

Guilty on all Counts.  Norfolk, VA: Hampton Roads, 2000.

The Marva Collins Method: A Manual for Educating and Motivating Your Child.  Chicago:  Westside Preparatory School, 1989.

Marva Collins’ Way. Boston; Houghton, 1982.

Ordinary Children,  Extraordinary Teachers.  Hampton Roads, 1992.

Values: Lighting the Candle of Excellence: A Practical Guide for the Family. Los Angeles:  Dove Books, 1996