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Sam Intrator

Elizabeth A. Woodson 1922 Professor of Education & Child Study

Sam Intrator


Morgan Hall 101


Sam M. Intrator is professor and chair of the Education and Child Study Program and a member of the Urban Studies Program. He is the founding director of the Smith College Urban Educational Initiative and the co-founder of Project Coach, an innovative Smith-staffed out-of-school program that serves children and teenagers in Springfield, Massachusetts. Intrator teaches courses in urban educational policy and youth development, and he prepares graduate and undergraduate students to teach adolescents through both in- and out-of-school placements.

Intrator came to Smith in 1999 after more than a decade of teaching and administrative service in public schools in New York, Vermont and California. He believes that carefully designed programs (both in and out of school) led by engaged and committed adults working alongside youth can provide powerful opportunities for young people to acquire and develop personal, educational and social assets. To this end, his research and practice explore the question: Under what conditions do educational programs—both in the classroom and during out-of-school programs—genuinely matter to youth? Since youth most often cite the importance of a caring, committed and devoted adult as an essential variable in meaningful learning, Intrator also investigates ways to recruit, prepare and sustain high-quality teachers and out-of-school staff in education.

Project Coach serves as a “lab” for much of Intrator’s teaching and research. In this program, Intrator works with students interested in urban education, youth development and teaching, using sports to engage, connect and empower adolescents and youth living in Springfield. Teenagers are trained and employed as coaches for elementary-aged children living in their communities. The major objective of the program is youth development and helping college students learn to teach and run these types of programs.

Intrator was awarded a W. K. Kellogg National Leadership Fellowship and, while teaching high school English, was named a Distinguished Teacher by the White Commission on Presidential Scholars. He has written and edited six books, including Tuned in and Fired Up: How Teaching Can Inspire Real Learning in the Classroom (Yale University Press), which was a finalist for the prestigious Grawemeyer Award in education, and Leading From Within: Poetry That Sustains the Courage to Lead (Jossey-Bass), which received the 2009 Nautilus Book Award Gold Medal for Poetry.

Recent Publications

“Spots of Time in Teaching: Epiphanic Dimensions of Our Practice as Teachers” in Teaching With Reverence: Reviving an Ancient Virtue for Today’s schools, edited by Jim Garrison and A.G. Rud. Palgrave MacMillan, 2012.

“Regrounded,” in Burned In: Fueling the Fire to Teach, edited by Audrey A. Friedman and Luke Reynolds. Teachers College Press, 2011.

Project Coach: A Case Study of a College-Community Partnership as a Venture in Social Entrepreneurship,” with Don Siegel. Penn GSE Perspectives on Urban Education Journal, Fall 2010.

Foreword to the Spotlight on Student Engagement, Motivation, and Achievement. Harvard University Press, 2009.

“Who Are Adolescents Today?” with Rob Kunzman. In Handbook on Adolescent Literacy Research, edited by Leila Christenbury, Randy Bomer and Peter Smagorinsky. Guilford Publications, 2009, pp. 29–45.

Grounded: Practicing What We Preach.Journal of Teacher Education. vol. 60, no. 5, 2009, pp. 512–519.

Project Coach: Youth development and academic achievement through sport—this after-school program fosters youth development in more ways than sport involvement alone,” with Don Siegel. JOPERD—The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, Sept. 2008.


The Quest for Mastery: Positive Youth Development Through Out-of-School Programs. Harvard Education Press, Cambridge, MA, 2014.

Teaching With Heart: Poetry That Speaks to the Courage to Teach. John Wiley & Sons, San Francisco, CA, 2014.

Leading From Within: Poetry that Sustains the Courage to Lead. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA, 2007.

Living the Questions: Essays Celebrating the Life and Work of Parker J. Palmer. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA, 2005.

Tuned in and Fired Up: How Teaching Can Inspire Genuine Learning. Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, 2003.

Teaching With Fire: Poems than Honor and Sustain a Teacher’s Heart. Edited with Megan Scribner. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA, 2003.

Stories of the Courage to Teach: Honoring the Teachers’ Heart. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA. (See reviews: New York Times, Christian Science Monitor, Education Week), 2002.


Ph.D., M.A., Stanford University
M.A., Middlebury College
B.A., State University of New York, Binghamton

Selected Works in Smith ScholarWorks