On Thursday, November 30, author and New York Times journalist Sarah Maslin Nir visited the Red, Orange, Yellow, Silver, Green, and Blue Clusters in two assemblies to speak to the students, read from one of her books, and take questions from the audiences. Each year the Parents’ Association Book Fair Committee, chaired by Sam Regan and Katy Williamson, works to bring in authors for each of the Educational Divisions at Gaynor. Ms. Nir’s appearance was the first author visit of the year.
Ms. Nir is an American journalist, best known for her New York Times report on the working conditions of nail salon workers, for which she was a finalist for the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Local Reporting. Sarah is the author of The Flying Horse, which has a protagonist with learning differences, and she is also the co-author of The Jockey and Her Horse, a story about the first black female jockey, Cheryl White.
Ms. Nir began by letting the students know a bit about her life, including her passion for horses and for telling stories — both as a journalist and as a book author. She had always been a “horse girl,” despite growing up in Manhattan, an unlikely place for an equestrian. Coincidentally, she served as a mounted patrol officer in Central Park as a teenager, and her horses were stabled in Claremont Stables, now the home of Stephen Gaynor School’s South Building and Performing Arts Center.
She read an excerpt of The Jockey and Her Horse, even bringing Head of School Dr. Scott Gaynor in for a cameo appearance. She then took questions from the attentive audience, including many about how she became passionate about horses, what her favorite places were to visit as a journalist, and her writing process in general.
In response to a question about why she enjoys writing books so much, Ms. Nir responded with an anecdote about the first time she rode a horse at the age of two. She described sitting on a horse that was attached to a lunge line — a long rope held in the center so that the horse rides around in a circle. As she was riding, she kicked the horse, causing it to canter. She related, “So, I fell off pretty immediately, and the thing about a circle is that [the horse] goes right back around. So I lay like a potato on the floor. I didn’t move. The horse came around again; everyone was screaming. But the horse just jumped over me.”
She continued, “I could have taken the lesson away that horses are scary, and I’m going to fall off and hurt myself. But you know what lesson I took away? That horses are always going to protect me and they’re always going to be there for me. And that has been the case, and I’ve always been there for them. So I urge you to find the thing that’s always going to be there for you, the passion that can drive you, the passion that can make a career, the passion that can make you happy. Lean into it, no matter what anyone says, no matter how many times you fall off.”
The author visits continued during the week of Book Fair, as we welcomed authors Shari Harpaz and Karina Yan Glaser to visit Gaynor and speak about the books they’ve written, what the writing process is like, and answer student questions.