Heather Harvey spent the first 10 years of her teaching career teaching in Infants and Primary Schools where she taught at every level from Kindergarten to grade 6. As a young teacher she was often given the classes that 'nobody else wanted' and very quickly developed an abiding interest in reading problems.
In 1973 she was appointed to The Entrance High School as one of the first secondary Remedial Reading Teachers in the state. In 1974 she introduced Literacy Classes for Adults at The Entrance Evening College. Heather Harvey commented 'it was this contact with adult non-readers and an appreciation of the burden of shame which they all felt, which determined my future path in teaching. I wanted to make sure that students at my school didn't slip through the net.'
In 1977, the author completed a Diploma of Special Education externally at Mitchell C.A.E. and followed it up with a Bachelor of Education (specialising in Special Education) at Charles Sturt Uni. in 1991.
In 1992 she published a set of Intensive Reading Programs For Secondary Students which received critical acclaim from teachers, educators and parents alike. These programs are now being used in every state of Australia from small outback schools to the largest exclusive private schools.
The addition of novels, activity books and audio at each level of the Primary Program means there is always a book the student can pick up and read or listen to, and resources that teachers can rely upon to reinforce necessary reading skills in a structured, relevant and enjoyable fashion.
The publication of a series of secondary novels and activity books means that reluctant and failing teenage readers have a novel they can look forward to reading. In fact the mother of a 13 year old rang recently to say she had 'caught her son reading a book at 7 o'clock in the morning!" Her surprise was due to the fact that firstly her son was never up that early, and secondly she had never seen him read a book. The book in question was "Grudge Match" and her inquiry was, "Are there any more books like this and where can I get them?".
The demand for the Intensive Reading Programs written and published by Heather Harvey resulted in her resigning from her full time STLD position at The Entrance High School in 1996 and concentrating fulltime on her publishing business while at the same time fulfilling an ever increasing number of speaking engagements, ranging from staff inservice and development days in both state and private schools, lectures to Special Education students, to conferences at local, regional and state level.
The secondary novels in the Intensive Reading Programs are written by Rob Harvey who is Heather Harvey's son. He grew up on the Central Coast of NSW surrounded by beautiful beaches. He attended High School at The Entrance and Terrigal where school ran a poor second behind surfing. He 'didn't mind' writing at school but if someone had said to him when he left school, that ten years later he would have teenagers all around the country reading his books, no-one would have been more surprised that Rob Harvey.
His first book 'Wipeout!' was about surfing, naturally, and came about as the result of a challenge after his observation that his mother's primary novels were a 'bit straight' for high school kids. His writing style and language immediately connected with kids and the book was a huge success. High school children who had never read books before, were asking where they could get more books by Rob Harvey. Letters, such as the one reprinted below, came from near and far, from boys and girls alike.
Dear Rob Harvey,
My name is Jason K...... and im a student at............ high school. In our class we have read all your bookes like Party time and Wipe out we all enjoy your bookes Im pleding with you to wnght some more bookes because there is no one weights bookes as good as you do
He continued to work in a variety of fields and locations. In between, he has completed five more novels, Party Time, Grudge Match, Dinner Date, Grunge Girl and Busted.
Jason Cameron was also a student at The Entrance High School, which is where he first came to Heather Harvey's attention. He was clearly an unusually talented and creative person in music and drama but it was his striking artwork and clever caricatures of teachers that stuck in her mind and persuaded her to ask him to illustrate her first book in 1992. He has continued to work as the cover artist and illustrator for all books in the Intensive Reading Programs and his work continues to receive high praise from children, teachers, parents and other publishers.
Since leaving school in 1990, Jason has worked as a graphic designer, journalist, cartoonist and actor. He has worked in video and film production, as well as voice-over work. His experience in the latter made him the obvious choice to narrate the IRP primary novels.
Apart from his own illustration work at Firehouse Studios, he is currently writing a Fantasy Trilogy.