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Octogenarian has strong voice, history in early education

At 88-years-old, Barbara Bowman shows no signs of slowing down.

Bowman lives alone, in the same house she and her late husband Dr. James Bowman, resided in for over 50 years. Today, her roommate is her 4-year-old Golden Doodle, Honey.

For over five decades, this internationally renowned educator has been the go-to person for early childhood education, specifically for at risk kids and children of color.

Among her many accomplishments, at the age of 80, during the Obama Administration, she helped to spearhead the “Preschool for All Proposal.” Doubling the size of the country’s early head start learning program.

Former Secretary of Education Arne Duncan worked hand-in-hand with Bowman in D.C. for almost a decade.

At the same time, she ran the office of early childhood education for CPS -- a position Duncan hired her for when he was head of Chicago Public Schools.

This spry octogenarian got her start at the nursery school at the University of Chicago Lab in the 60’s. While her husband, an expert in blood diseases, worked at the University of Chicago hospitals.

She says her husband was very supportive of her work, but not everyone was.

But it didn’t stop her. She soon formed a partnership with the late social worker Lorraine Wallach, and child activist Maria Piers to start a first of its kind graduate program in early child development. It would later be called Erikson Institute.

Bowman comes by community service naturally. She was born on Chicago's South Side.Her father was Robert Taylor, the first black chairman of the Chicago Housing Authority. The Robert Taylor Homes Housing Development was named after him. And her grandfather an architect, was the first black man to graduate from MIT.

Something she passed on to her daughter, former President Barack Obama's right hand Senior Advisor -- Valerie Jarrett.

Bowman and her daughter are very close, and she beams at the success that she’s had, and attributes much of Jarrett’s moxie to the way she grew up.

Bowman says she’ll keep up the pace for as long as she’s able. And will continue fighting for the kids who still need her help.

Barbara Bowman is one of Chicago’s Very Own