She is practically married to education. Rain or shine, in sickness or in health, Barbara Harvey has always seemed to care about the future of Manatee County's youth.
Harvey celebrated alongside dozens of supporters on Tuesday night, when the School Board of Manatee County unanimously voted to place her name on a new elementary school in Parrish. The campus sits off 115th Avenue East, adjacent to the Copperstone community, and it's scheduled to open in August.
After her career started in 1961, Harvey served the community for more than five decades as a teacher, principal and district administrator. She spent more than 15 years as a member of the school board.
Tuesday night also marked the last board meeting for Diana Greene, the district's first black superintendent. She looked on as Harvey recounted the district's progress.
"You see, when I came here Manatee County would have had the blacks sitting on that side," Harvey said, pointing to one half of the room. "Look around — just look around. Just us sitting here means a lot."
State Rep. Wengay Newton, D-St. Petersburg, was among several people to speak in favor of naming the school Barbara A. Harvey Elementary School.
"It's important that we have educational icons, the name of these institutions, so the kids can be motivated," he said.
About 100 students donned neon green shirts and packed the board room. Each came from Educational Consultants Consortium Inc., an organization Harvey co-founded.
The organization helps parents "keep their children in school by providing positive community activities and structured youth activities, while empowering families to improve their quality of life," its website states.
Before James McCloud became the organization's chairman, he sat in Harvey's fourth-grade classroom.
Harvey — known for being stern but caring — offered a listening ear and a structure that propelled McCloud to higher levels in reading and mathematics. Decades later, McCloud accepted his current position in Harvey's organization.
"I've participated in a lot of enrichment programs over the years in a lot of different parts of the country, but I have never been involved in anything as extraordinary as what Ms. Harvey is doing here locally for our kids in 2018," he said.