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Readings from Book by Smith Educator to Echo through Halls of Congress

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This Tuesday evening, June 10, Smith faculty member Samuel M. Intrator will read aloud, but not at the bedside of his children. Instead, Intrator’s audience will assemble in the Congressional office building in the nation’s capitol.

Intrator, associate professor of education and child study, and his co-editor, Megan Scribner, will present a public reading of their book Leading from Within: Poetry that Sustains the Courage to Lead, on June 10, beginning at 6 p.m.

“What is most gratifying about Leading from Within is that so many people tell us they use the book,” said Intrator. “It’s not just sitting pristine on a bookshelf, but it’s being used and appreciated.”

The event, organized by the bipartisan interfaith congressional organization called the Faith & Politics Institute, will feature readings by four lawmakers, who are among the nearly 100 leaders from a smattering of professions represented in the book.

In addition to selecting a poem, each leader provided a brief personal commentary in the book explaining its significance and meaning in his or her life and work.

Smith alumna Tammy Baldwin ’84, the first woman from Wisconsin—and the first “out” lesbian—elected to Congress, selected for the book the following passage from “The Rock Will Wear Away” by Holly Near:

“Can we be like drops of water falling on the stone
Splashing, breaking, disbursing in air
Weaker than the stone by far but be aware
That as time goes by the rock will wear away
And the water comes again”

In making her selection, Baldwin wrote, “Every movement for social change…has taken time and comes at a heavy price.

“In the day-to-day quest, frustration can easily overwhelm hope. These lyrics always remind me, and I use my position to remind others, that great change takes time. Just as the majestic Grand Canyon was carved away over eons by drops of water, the cumulative action of countless individuals has the same force to create dramatic and meaningful change in society.”

Other Smith contributors include alumna Nicole Gagnon ’07, who chose an excerpt from Emily Dickinson’s “ ‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers,” and President Carol T. Christ, who chose William Wordsworth’s “Tintern Abbey.”

“I often turn to ‘Tintern Abbey’ to find in it the tranquil restoration that the poem itself finds in the scene it contemplates along the river Wye,” wrote Christ. “As educators, we believe that we help shape our students by leading them to moments of contemplation and insight to which they may return, just as I have turned to this poem first as a student, then as a scholar of nineteenth-century poetry, and now as a college president.”
In addition to being celebrated tomorrow in Congress, Leading from Within recently won a silver medal from the Nautilus Book Awards in the category of Conscious Business and Leadership. Along with an earlier book by Intrator and Scriber, titled Teaching with Fire, the two publications have thus far sold more than 90,000 copies.

Royalties from the sales are donated to fund professional development scholarships for educators and leaders in the serving professions, said Intrator.

6/9/08   By Kristen Cole
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