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The George School Magic and Sam Smith

Posted By Karen Hallowell, Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Updated: Monday, December 7, 2009
People seem to talk about the "George School magic” as if 1) it’s really magical and 2) it’s just in the water or something. In thirty years, I’ve never seen a wizard or sorcerer on campus … at least not any that I am aware of. Still, George School mysteriously does seem to bring out the best in each of us, nurturing students and adults alike. So, if it’s not really magic (sorry, Virginia) what is it?
Musing about this, I am reminded of Sam Smith. Many will remember Sam as the self-proclaimed curmudgeon and other-acclaimed resident genius and Renaissance man of the Math Department from 1971 until he retired in 2001. I remember thinking that Sam always seemed to know what mattered in life. Maybe that alone would recommend him as being somewhat of a wizard, a wise man, of sorts.
In the early 1990s I was doing research for a graduate course at Penn and Sam agreed to be interviewed about the Math Department curriculum. Near the end of one of those conversations, Sam looked me in the eye and said, "Karen, I love my job at George School. I get up in the morning and I’m Sam Smith. I walk to work, and I am Sam Smith. I teach my classes and I’m Sam Smith. And, at the end of the day, I walk home and I am still Sam Smith.
I don’t think Sam would call it magic … but he might agree that there’s something special going on here … something more than meets the eye.

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