Andrea Harvey was a twenty-eight year old who embraced every opportunity to live life to the fullest, and to improve herself and those around her. She was involved with projects that would have reorganized the school where she worked, bringing valuable lessons learned from highly successful schools abroad.
Andrea actively sought out ways to contribute to the lives of others, and did so in her community as a respected high-school math teacher, a promising Masters student, an accomplished musician, artist, gourmet vegan cook, traveler, devoted daughter, loving sister, niece, granddaughter, and kind friend. She was affectionately called a Renaissance Woman by her friends, who speak of her as a person with an open and generous heart, who tolerated nearly all personal failings in others except for prejudice.
A shy toddler, she tagged after older sister Julia. In school, she found friends and the viola, which she played in church Christmas pageants and was honored to be invited to join the Greater Boston Youth Symphony. Gentle and sweet, she shocked her mother when, at her eighth-grade graduation, she refused to stand and salute the flag. “She was on stage,” says Shirley. “I was horrified, which I knew she could see, but on she sat. She felt that as long as there was not liberty and justice for all she shouldn’t have to salute.” Shirley was later mollified upon discovering that Andrea had won the math award.
At Cambridge Rindge and Latin School, she excelled at math and science and toured Britain with the high school’s jazz ensemble. She began to perform regularly with various local artists, including Chances, a Cambridge reggae band. One friend describes watching a fearless Andrea drag her viola on stage during an open jazz session with professional musicians at Wally’s Club in Boston. “The musicians were all male,” said friend Lena Entin. “She looked so young and gorgeous up there, that people stopped talking to listen. After a solo marked by loud applause, Andrea grinned and hopped off the stage.”
As an undergraduate at the University of Massachusetts at Lowell, Andrea majored in musical performance and minored in Spanish and Math, and began composing jazz pieces for viola, often using elements from musical traditions from around the world. After graduation she picked up a Master’s degree in Education from Simmons College and was in the process of completing her second Master’s degree in the teaching of mathematics in the Division of Continuing Education of Harvard University. She delighted her teachers there, with Professor John Boller remembering her as “terrific in class, very smart and enthusiastic.” Andrea’s mother, Shirley, recalled how Andrea loved her courses, noting, “the more challenging, the more she liked them.” In turn, saddened Harvard math preceptor Thomas Judson called her “an amazing teacher–one of the best to come through the program.”
“She was an outstanding teacher who cared deeply about her students.”
At East Boston High School, Andrea loved seeing her students succeed. She would “do anything to help,” said 16-year-old Alma Mendoza, who had failed first-term Algebra, but through Andrea’s help, earned an A second term. Andrea, who believed that “anything that worked for kindergarten students could also work for teens,” created lessons that combined high “rigor with goofy rewards light Hello Kitty stickers, lollipops, lip balms, or especially radiant smiles. She amused her students by speaking Spanish in accents they loved to correct, and sometimes even teased them with a little Japanese.
“Andrea embraced her work with energy and passion,” said East Boston High School Headmaster Michael Rubin. “She was an outstanding teacher who cared deeply about her students.” Rubin described the school as “devastated by her death. I’ve been at the school twenty-seven years,” he said, “and this has been the most difficult week of my educational career.” Andrea, an active member of the school’s restructuring committee, planned and wrote grants to augment the school’s budget, tutored in the after-school program, and taught in summer enrichment programs. Andrea’s gifts to the school, however, were not solely academic: through weekly gatherings, festive parties, and by bringing co-workers vegan lunches, Andrea created a climate in which everyone felt welcome and colleagues became friends.
Andrea held tea parties and made sumptuous feasts for family and friends. She sent faraway pals her watercolors of guinea pigs that told zany stories about a day in her life. Her little sister Mia loved the nights Andrea shared her bed, even if it meant losing the blankets or getting tickled to the floor. After moving from home, Andrea called her mother almost daily for long chats, serious or not. She worried about sister Julia stationed in Iraq, and kept close to her through e-mail. She insisted her parents stay healthy by making them join her for long walks. She kissed her father (whom sister Julia notes she had wrapped around her little finger), teased her brothers, and entertained her friends with a sense of humor they called “quirky, silly, and profound.” Her charismatic and dazzling smile, framed by a tangle of dreadlocks, could-and did pierce hearts.