The Marva Collins Story

The Marva Collins Story is a 1981 American Hallmark Hall of Fame television film about the life of Chicago-based African-American teacher Marva Collins. It stars Cicely Tyson as Collins and Morgan Freeman as her husband, Clarence.


Marva Collins is a teacher in the Chicago Public School System. She expresses her dissatisfaction to how the schools are currently run, and believes that the system prevents children from reaching their full potential. She convinces her husband, Clarence, to help her start her own school by converting the upstairs apartment of their home into a one room school house. When inquiring about getting a permit to do so, she is appalled to learn that anyone can start a school, but in order to be recognized by the state, she would have to submit an application. She decides that she does not need the state's help, stating that she does not want anyone telling her how to teach, but is warned that many parents would not want to enroll their children in an unrecognized school. Collins uses her life savings to finance the school, and states that students will only be expected to pay what they can. She names the school Westside Preparatory.