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60 Years of Stories! Martha Harvey

Martha Harvey, reading tutor, STLCC-Forest Park

“I love my job because I get to help students achieve their academic goals. I take great pleasure in encouraging and coaching students to achieve success. Working at St. Louis Community College has always been positive and rewarding. I am part of a team of dedicated employees who are willing to go the extra mile for our students.”

~Martha Harvey, reading tutor, St. Louis Community College at Forest Park, 2006- present


For Martha Harvey, teaching has always been her calling. Growing up as one of nine children, she was responsible for helping her siblings with their homework. She attended a two-room school in rural Tennessee, where it became clear she was a natural teacher. “For as long as I can remember, I have always tutored or worked with those needing reading support.”

Despite her talents, Harvey faced many barriers to accessing educational opportunities. Born and raised on a farm where her parents were sharecroppers, enrolling in college was not financially possible. “I always dreamed of being a teacher but was afraid to pursue my dream. My fear was that I would not be financially able to attend college.” 

Ultimately, with support from neighbors and community members, Harvey was able to fulfill her dream. She attended Lane College in Jackson, Tenn., and graduated in three years with a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education; then, she went on to Saint Louis University for a Master of Education. Today, Harvey has taught more than 50 years, from first grade through college. 

Now in its 60th year, STLCC has remained committed to providing educational opportunities and access for all people. In many ways, Harvey has embodied this commitment during her 16 years at STLCC-Forest Park. Martha Harvey, reading tutor, STLCC-Forest Park, helping a student.

In 2020, Julie Fickas, Ed.D., campus president and chief academic officer, recognized Harvey with an award for her accomplishments and dedication to the mission of STLCC. Fickas recounted, “Recently a student found me to let me know that a reading tutor, Ms. Martha Harvey, has been instrumental in her success here at the College. She said, ‘Without Ms. Harvey, I wouldn’t have made it. She somehow helps me understand what I am reading. She’s like magic with comprehension. We need two more of her.’”

For Harvey, learning at STLCC has not been a one-way street. “My experiences at STLCC have increased my self-confidence. For example, my students have taught me how to navigate technology. These skills were invaluable during the pandemic as they allowed me to stay connected with family, friends, co-workers and students.” Additionally, she cites STLCC’s diversity as a strength.

“My early life experiences were limited to people who looked like me. However, my work at STLCC has given me an opportunity to interact with a diversified staff and student population. I now feel comfortable wherever I go! I am often recognized in communities other than my own because of my work here.”

Now in her 70s, Harvey is as passionate as ever and has no plans to slow down. “The mission of STLCC to provide educational opportunities to all students is what drives me because it’s also my life’s mission. I love working with students and plan to do so for as long as I’m able.”

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