“One of the Miracles” is the personal story of Inge Meyring Smith, an innovator of modern-day education who has had an influence on the lives of thousands of children over a 60-year career.
During the Holocaust, her upper-class Jewish family barely escaped the concentration camps as they fled Germany. In New York as a teen, living in poverty and able to read only in German, Inge completed the education from which she had been deprived in Nazi Germany. She worked on Wall Street, married an American soldier, moved to Tennessee, started a kindergarten, and eventually enrolled in Vanderbilt’s prestigious Peabody College. After earning her Masters degree, Inge served in the Appalachians and Mississippi on the forefront of John F. Kennedy’s War on Poverty by helping to develop President Johnson’s nascent national Head Start program where her life was threatened several times for bringing food and the love of learning to impoverished Mississippi Blacks.
In the midst of Head Start, Inge was given the opportunity to create a private elementary school that would eventually serve as a role model for several independent schools throughout the U.S. and Europe. With the motto, “Teach the child, not the subject,” she developed a reputation as an innovator and, through her efforts via independent school associations, untold thousands of children found an education and desire to learn that they otherwise might not have experienced.
As she approaches her late-80s, Inge hasn’t slowed. She gives frequent lectures, travels extensively, and continues to operate the preschool that she started over 60 years ago with the philosophy that each child is a gift from God, the value of which is not determined by race or social privilege, but by opportunity, which she feels is a basic right for all children throughout the globe.