Former SVC president speaks with students about new book

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BENNINGTON — Students at the Molly Stark School video conferenced with an exciting guest on Thursday: Karen Gross, the author of the new children's book, "Lady Lucy's Quest."

Gross was the president of Southern Vermont College from 2006-2014, when she left to pursue a career of educational consulting in Washington D.C. She is currently a senior counsel to Widmeyer Communications, where she provides educational consulting services. Gross also writes regularly for a variety of publications including Huffington Post, the Washington Post, the Hechinger Report, InsideHigherEd, and more. She will be returning to southern Vermont this April, when she will teach a course a Bennington College. During that time she will also be giving readings of the book, first at the Maple Street School in Manchester on April 29 at 2 p.m., then at Molly Stark and at the Manchester Community Library in May.

The book, Gross's first children's story, was published on March 29 by Shires Press. "It is the story of a feisty young girl who wants to become a knight in the Middle Ages. Lucy confronts many hurdles in her quest, but ultimately finds success because she is able to solve problems in unique and unexpected ways. Through her actions and words, she demonstrates the importance of pursuing one's dreams and the power of the possible for children everywhere." The story is intended for children 4-8.

The book is illustrated entirely by two high school students at Troy's Emma Willard School, Ji Woo Jasmine Shin and So Young Yang. "As the author," said Gross, "I wanted illustrations that captured the feel of the story. But, I did not dictate what should be drawn; I only suggested where illustrations could be located within the book. I obviously undertook a considerable risk: Could these two high school students actually create illustrations that met my vision? The short answer is: Yes. The stunning illustrations met and vastly exceeded my expectations."

She was speaking at Molly Stark as part of Famous Females Month. After being introduced by librarian Allyson Hoffman, Gross gave the students a visual tour of Washington D.C. from the top of her building, then read a sample from the book and took questions. One student asked where she got her inspiration. "I was inspired by trying to help you and everybody else find their dreams," Gross responded, "There are lots of ways that you can learn. I've been a teacher, I've been the head of a school, and those are great things, but now (through writing this book), I can have more kids talk to me and learn with me."

After the students left the room, Gross said the primary message in the book is gender equality and recognizing the power of the possible. "It still remains an important issue," she said, "I think it's extremely important for both girls and boys to realize their dreams."

Derek Carson can be reached for comment at 802-447-7567, ext. 122.


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