Monday, February 7, 2011

Lake County Profiles: Thomas W. Harvey - Notable Educator

As a youth I grew up a product of the New York City school system.  I attended PS 14, Mark Twain Junior High, and Lincoln HS.  Our schools were mostly numbered and if named, they were tied to famous Americans. As a retired Ohio educator and coach, I had the opportunity to visit many schools.  Many were named after the community in which they were located.  Others were named after U.S. Presidents.  Until its demolition in 2010, I drove by a Painesville High School and never thought much of its name.  My only associations with the school were the facts that their most notable alum was Don Shula and a classmate of mine from Hiram College was a Harvey graduate.

Thomas W. Harvey High School was built in 1922.  It was the fourth school built on that site since its beginning in 1852.  Previous names were Painesville Academy, Old Academy Building, and Painesville High School.  The current name of the high school was chosen to pay tribute to a notable 19th century Lake County resident.  Thomas W. Harvey was an educational pioneer and noted author.  Born in 1821 in New Hampshire, he came to Ohio and began his teaching career in 1845 at Geauga High School in Chardon.  A brief career stop in Massillon followed.  In 1866, Harvey returned to become the superintendent of the Painesville Schools.  In 1871, Governor Rutherford B. Hayes appointed Harvey Ohio State Commissioner of Public Schools.  Harvey followed this appointment by establishing The Ohio State Teacher's Association and Northeastern Ohio Teacher's Association.  A noted grammarian, he wrote several textbooks.  1868 saw the release of an English grammar text.  " First Lessons in Language" and "Practice of Grammar" followed.  In 1875, he released the Graded School Primary Speller.  Before the end of the nineteenth century, Harvey helped revise McGuffey's Readers. Next he contributed to an eclectic book series of geographies.  By the time of his death in 1892, he had added trustee to his resume (Lake Erie Seminary / Lake Erie College).

Although the former Harvey High School is now a vacant lot awaiting development by an expanding Lake Erie College, you can still travel the roadways of Lake County and be an eyewitness to the Thomas W. Harvey legacy.  His former home is located at 143 Mentor Avenue.  His Ohio Historical Marker (11-43) is also available for viewing

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