New York Times-bestselling author is discussing the socio-economic politics of education at the Vilar Thursday |

New York Times-bestselling author is discussing the socio-economic politics of education at the Vilar Thursday

Daily staff report

if you go ...

What: A special evening with Sarah Smarsh

When: Nov. 14, 5:30-7 p.m.

Where: The Vilar Performing Arts Center

Cost: $25

More information: Visit

Author and journalist Sarah Smarsh will speak at the Vilar Performing Arts Center today.

Smarsh comes to the Vail Valley as a keynote aspect of the YouthPower365’s PwrHrs Rural Afterschool Conference, and tickets are $25 and are available at She will discuss her book — “Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth” — and her experiences coming up through the education system as someone from a working-poor rural family.

“When I was a child in rural Kansas during the 1980s and ‘90s, my working-poor family didn’t have the time, money or information required to offer me the opportunities I craved,” she said. “Millions of children are similarly isolated by geography and class, and the care they receive often depends on the community that surrounds them. I addressed ‘Heartland’ to those children. I’m excited to join a gathering of professionals dedicated to reaching them with after-school programs.”

Smarsh came from generations of impoverished Kansas wheat farmers: Hardworking, no-nonsense folks who worked themselves to the bone, yet struggled to pay the bills, could not afford healthcare, and often were forced to move their children from school to school. She became the first in her family to go to college, and today is an outspoken, respected voice for rural families and their children, as well as a frequent media commentator on class, politics and rural issues.

She chronicles her experiences and explores the socioeconomic forces behind her upbringing in her New York Times-bestselling book “Heartland,” which helped her become a finalist for last year’s National Book Awards.

Smarsh’s book is available at the Bookworm in Edwards, and will be available for purchase on the evening of the event.

“If you liked ‘Hillbilly Elegy,’ this book will be of interest,” said Bookworm owner Nicole Magistro. “Certainly a memoir, it explains the experiences of millions of Gen Xers brought up in the Midwest.”

YouthPower365 is the education nonprofit arm of the Vail Valley Foundation, which organized the PwrHrs Rural Afterschool Conference.

The event is billed as a unique opportunity for educators, organizations, and thought leaders to connect, collaborate and create a road map for future success on rural afterschool issues.

More than 250 educators from more than 20 states will be on hand for the conference, but there is still space available. To learn more about the conference, register to attend and see a detailed schedule of events, visit

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