restricted access Introduction: Dedication to Emily Ann Smith
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Introduction: Dedication to Emily Ann Smith Inspiring Teacher, Berea College, 1930-1972 Assistant to the President since 1972 This issue of Appalachian Heritage is dedicated to Emily Ann Smith who touched the lives of her many students in many memorable and magical ways. Emily Ann, as her students soon referred to her among themselves, dramatized her love for fine writing and literature and her respect for the individual in such real and special ways that her students were drawn into the aura and stimulated to 'superior achievement. The many letters from former students, once the project for honoring her was underway and Appalachian Heritage a part of that honoring, attest to the enduring effect of her teaching. They wrote of her basic honesty, how she deplored the phony, the artificial, the mauldin, how she approached students as individuals and moved them from level to level of consciousness and perception, by what means she encouraged them toward self-discovery, and by what magnanimous patience she gave timely criticism and avoided the paralyzing rigidity of final judgement. Others—and capable teachers—could point out and expand on the facts and machinery of writing, the concepts of literary appreciation and endeavor, but Emily Ann harbored a special gift, a quality difficult to define, a charisma (to use a modern term) that could transmute and inspire willing votaries, that elevated all the fumbling and delving into the dark recesses in the dark hours to an experience to be fervently sought rather than one to be endured. Her criticism, gentle or severe, was gospel; her praise, an accolade. Either was participation in a Joycean-like epiphany. ????ßßß?ßß?ß**** Delmas W. Abbott is responsible for initiating the movement to honor Emily Ann Smith—and for keeping the momentum going to this happy conclusion. When he wrote me more than two years ago for my opinion I replied with an emphatic YES and added , "Let's do it now while Emily Ann is still vital"—as if anyone could ever think of her as being anything but vital! A host of letters followed that expressed a similar enthusiasm. Later, Delmas asked if it would be possible to dedicate an issue of Appalachian Heritage as part of the ceremonies of honoring Emily Ann. Again, I said YES, and, "I think that would be possible." So, my work began. The decision to include material by Emily Ann students only, created problems at first since Appalachian Heritage attempts to present a variety of material in each issue. Betty Lamb and Loyal Jones helped to solve this by providing a list of former students from whom to solicit material. The results exceeded anticipation by far. Her students, because of the exigencies of life and occupation have become dispersed over wide and varied areas. Some, even the very talented ones, did not pursue writing careers, or writing in a publishable fashion. Many did. Some material arrived just too late for this issue. Just what sort of publication might have been without the limiting pressures 3 of time and space associated with a quarterly magazine must be left for speculation and the imagination. Many helped here as with other areas of the honoring. Betty Lamb and Loyal Jones, Delmas Abbott, Peggy Gentry Armstrong and Dean Cadle, and certainly all those whose names appear with the maten al they so willingly and generously contributed . It has been a privilege and a high, hard pleasure to be able to arrange this material for publication. It has also been a privilege to have a part in the honoring of Emily Ann Smith. AU too often the honors and memorials go to administrators and lackeys while great teachers receive their little gold watch and fade off into the twilight. For once, let it be otherwise. It seems now that Emily Ann Smith blessed and was blessed by her students . It is good to be able to feel so. Albert Stewart e^^ Loyal Jones in the following poem speaks of that rare experience and summarizes in subdued tones much of the substance of those letters. For E. A. S. We came, dry and uninspired, Writers someday, we thought, When education and the muse took over, Abashed at the English Department...