About the Visiting Author Program
The goal of the Visiting Author Program is to bring world-class authors to Stuart who will
share their knowledge and experiences with the students. Work on the program begins many months prior to the author's visit and culminates with Visiting Author Day.
In 2012 Naomi Shihab Nye gave a public reading in Cor Unum upon her arrival. Her reading was followed by a book signing and a private reception in her honor. The next morning, Ms. Nye had tea with selected Middle School students, and then spent time in the Lower School where she led a Q&A discussion with our young students. An impromptu sing-a-long with our youngest in the preschool was followed by lunch with our Senior Scholars and the faculty of the English Department. The afternoon concluded with a private reading for Upper and Middle School
Bringing the Best Contemporary Authors to Stuart
At Stuart we believe that every student, from the youngest preschooler to the graduating senior, should read and hear the best contemporary writing of her day. To that end, Stuart’s Visiting Author Program was created in 2008 to bring the best contemporary writing into our curriculum.
Every year, the works of our Visiting Authors are integrated into every class level. In 2009, students encountered the Pulitzer Prize-winning poetry of Paul Muldoon; in 2010, the fiction of Jonathan Safran Foer was a particular highlight; and in 2011, students were honored to read the essays and fiction of Pulitzer Prize winning novelist, Jhumpa Lahiri. In the fall 2011, Stuart students eagerly began preparing for the 2012 Visiting Author, Naomi Shihab Nye, whose picture books, poems for girls, essays, fiction, and poetry collections shaped and inspired English and Language Arts classes. Through her writings and visit, 2013 novelist Edwidge Danticat gave our students a social awareness of the Haitian-American experience. The success of the Visiting Author Program in the Lower and Middle School curricula in particular is one of our proudest achievements.
Connecting Students through Experience
Senior students do much of the work. Every year, a select group of seniors, known as "Senior Scholars," visits preschool - grade 8 classes to engage students with the work of the Visiting Author. When Jonathan Safran Foer came to visit, a student talked about the motif of a scavenger hunt in his book, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, and read some excerpts of the novel to kindergarten students. She then designed a magical scavenger hunt with
kindergarteners that wove together a narrative. The hunt was followed by an extremely interesting conversation comparing the work of understanding a narrative to the work of a scavenger hunt. These conversations have a profound effect on the way students think about their own writing and what the role of an ideal reader should be. To then meet the author a week or two later, and to ask him or her questions, is to make the connection even stronger.
Stuart's Language Arts and English faculty works very hard, at grade every level, to embrace and honor the work of a new author, and spend months preparing the students for Visiting Author Day. The result is a truly unique and magical day.
Lies, Light, and McCarthy
The Visiting Author Program was the dream of a beloved alumna, faculty member, and former English department head, Victoria Flournoy McCarthy '71. A fund to support the program was established in her honor after her death, and is named after Stuart’s three former English department heads: Betty Lies, Nancy Light and Victoria McCarthy.