Barbara A. Harvey is known for her faith, sisterhood and service — a few of the qualities that may inspire students at a new elementary school in Parrish.
The school, slated to open in August 2019, will bear Harvey’s name and honor her decades of service to Manatee County’s children. It also marks the district’s first new elementary school since the construction of G.D. Rogers Garden-Bullock, which opened in 2009.
Speaking at a groundbreaking ceremony on Tuesday morning, Harvey used her time at the podium to thank others. She acknowledged colleagues, friends and family. She praised anyone who took part in her God-give passion to enrich students.
“We have places to go, we have things to do,” Harvey said “And when we do it like this, working together, there’s no limit to where we can go.”
She played many roles during a career that started on Aug. 17, 1961. Harvey taught at several elementary schools before she led Jessie P. Miller Elementary as its principal. Then, before her supposed retirement in 1995, she worked as director of elementary education for the district.
Harvey also joined the school board in 1998, a seat she held for more than 15 years.
Her service continued with Educational Consultants Consortium Inc., a nonprofit that focuses on at-risk students and their families. She is a co-founder of the organization and one of its driving forces.
On Tuesday, she encouraged the crowd of nearly 100 people to participate in the community. Donate, volunteer and love more, she said, because the future of Manatee starts in elementary school.
“This is a day that God made,” she said. “Isn’t it wonderful when you know deep down that he has a plan for your life?”
The site for Barbara A. Harvey Elementary School sits off Moccasin Wallow Road, directly next to the Copperstone community, and it’s expected to hold 820 students. The project budget is currently $28 million.
Members of the school board voted unanimously to name the school after Harvey during a meeting on June 26. It was the last meeting for Diana Greene, the district’s first black superintendent.
It was the second new school to be named after a longtime educator, said Scott Hopes, chair of the Manatee school board. Barbara A. Harvey Elementary will join Dr. Mona Jain Middle School and North River High School in opening next year.
“We will be able to provide an excellent education for every child in Manatee County, regardless of their socioeconomic status, regardless of their ethnicity, regardless of where they live,” he said during Tuesday’s ceremony.
Harvey was joined by Florida Rep. Wengay Newton, D-St. Petersburg, a vocal supporter of the school’s chosen name. And they were joined by rows of women from Harvey’s sorority, Alpha Kappa Alpha, each donning salmon pink and apple green attire.
As the ceremony came to an end, she asked everyone to turn soil on the new school.
“Schools make the difference in a community,” Harvey said.