In December, OII said goodbye to Edith Harvey, the director of Improvement Programs (IP), who retired at the end of December after 26 years of service at the Department of Education. Prior to her position within OII, Edith served as program officer in the Office of Migrant Education and as branch chief in the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, where she was responsible for teacher quality, advanced placement, and equity programs.
Before coming to ED, Edith held teaching and administration positions at various educational levels, including executive director of a Head Start program serving low-income children throughout Washington, D.C. She also worked as program coordinator for the Lincoln (Neb.) Public Schools and program director for the Nebraska Department of Education, where she developed state policy and trained school superintendents and administrators throughout the state on equal educational opportunity requirements, specifically Title IV, CRA, and Title IX. She also taught elementary and adult basic education for the Missouri Board of Education and has many years of experience working with at-risk, low-income populations and on areas relating to gender and race equity.
Edith has been a respected leader in the national arts education community. Until her retirement, she served on the governing council of the Arts Education Partnership. She worked with the Kennedy Center and represented ED as one of the original five members of the National Endowment for the Arts’ Interagency Task Force on the Arts & Human Development, now numbering 17 federal agencies.
Remembering Edith’s “quiet yet regal spirit”
What can you say about one of the admired and loved managers in OII? If you ask the IP team, you will discover that they have a lot to say. When asked what she was going to miss about OII, Edith didn’t hesitate to say it would be her team. According to Justis Tuia, “Edith always had her employees’ best interests at heart. She managed to balance the well-being of her employees with the meeting of the organization’s strategic objectives. Her open door policy always provided me with space to air my concerns and dreams.” Richard Kress admired how Edith stood firm in her decisions when she knew she was right. Former IP team member Tyra Stewart described Edith in two words: “class and style.” “Her quiet yet regal spirit,” Tyra noted, “reminds me still today that I should always attempt to be diplomatic in my approach.”
Shavonney White had a lot to say: “Her supervision was nurturing in a way that supported my goals and ideas; allowed me to actually pursue them without limitations. I was most grateful for her ability to distribute work among a team of workers to strengthen their strengths and improve the weaker skills.” Michelle Armstrong added, “Edith’s work ethic demonstrated what it truly meant to be successful. She is a great inspiration!” To these attributes, Cynthia Waller added, “Edith is a classy lady who is strong, independent, and loyal.” And for me, Edith was the ultimate mentor with a great sense of humor and an infectious laugh. She just makes you feel good.
Everyone is in agreement on what Edith meant to them. Her devotion and leadership in providing arts education to the young people of this country will be missed. We are better people for knowing her.
Jerry Kyle is a management and program analyst with the Improvement Programs division of the Office of Innovation and Improvement.