UPDATE: A memorial for Sylvia Harp will be held this Sunday, Aug. 10, in San Jose on the quad of Harker’s Saratoga campus. There will be bagels and mingling at 10 a.m.; memorial at 10:30 a.m.; and pizza and ice cream (Mrs. Harp’s favorites) and more mingling from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
This article originally appeared in the winter 2013 Harker Quarterly.
It was with deep sadness that Chris Nikoloff, head of school, announced the passing of cherished former faculty member Sylvia Harp, who died of liver cancer on March 29. Harp was a well-respected grade 8 English teacher who began teaching at Harker in 1986 and went on to become chair of the middle school’s English department before her retirement in 2003. “Her passion for her subject inspired and motivated students to excel, and many have cited her influence as defining and shaping their lifelong love and mastery of English,” recalled Nikoloff.
Born in New York City in the summer of 1939, Harp graduated from New Paltz Teacher’s College with a degree in education. She continued to tutor Harker students in English after her retirement from the school.
In the Harker community, former students, alumni and colleagues took to posting fond recollections of Harp on Facebook shortly after her passing. Middle school English teacher Mark Gelineau said, “I had the incredible fortune to not only be her student but also to start my career at Harker as an English teacher under her as department chair. Much of what I am now as a teacher and a writer, I attribute to her. She was a grand lady.”
“Sylvia Harp was a complex and intelligent woman. She treasured the power of words and feared all things math; one might have thought our friendship would have been impossible. Fortunately for me, a math teacher, Sylvia was able to set aside her sentiments about math and we shared a deep and very rich friendship,” noted Cindy Ellis, middle school head.
In April, Harp’s family held a memorial for her in Maryland. Plans are being made for a memorial in San Jose this summer at Harker, with the date to be determined. Those who would like to share memories and condolences for the family, or receive notice regarding the celebration event, are encouraged to email Nicole Hall at firstname.lastname@example.org.