Leaders in Residence. Writers in Residence. Guest speakers. Classroom visit. The many ways that Chatham Hall brought outside experts to campus had a profound effect on Kimberly Daniels Taws ’02, owner of The Country Bookshop in Southern Pines, N.C.
“I was always fascinated by the guest speakers, authors and business leaders who came to speak and interact with us,” she remembers. “I was so used to having those kinds of experiences that I kept attending these opportunities as a student at SMU and was eventually put on a receiving committee to welcome and entertain our guest lecturers. Part of my job now is creating author events and bringing smart people to town to have interesting conversations around books. I really like interviewing authors myself and have gotten to have some pretty great chats with people like Scott Pelley, Amor Towles, Gayle Tzmach Lemmon, Erik Larson, James Patterson, Maggie Shipstead, Jason Mott - so many interesting people.”
In fact, some of her work reminds her of classes and teachers at Chatham Hall.
“I was working on prepping for an author conversation recently with a poet who wrote a book, a fictional memoir in poetry, called Becoming Billie Holiday. All I could think of was my first introduction to Billie Holiday in Dr. Edmonds English class. I memorized Strange Fruit from a poster above her whiteboard when I sometimes tuned out in class, long before I ever even heard the song. I reached out to Dr. Edmonds by email as I was preparing for this event to share some of my memories because I could not stop thinking about her class and all that I learned there. I hope that other alumna reach out to teachers when they think of them as well.”
For Taws, the unscheduled hours and life on dorm are favorite memories of her time at the School.
“My favorite memories all involve silly togetherness and the things we just invented out of thin air to do or be. Hanging out on dorm, on the bus, the tangential chats and the conversations in class that deviated so far away from whatever topic we were supposed to be discussing. And the music, the constant music as a backdrop to it all,” she says.
“I would advise any current student to simply celebrate with friends in the downtime. Celebrate the ordinariness of hanging out. Turn those ordinary moments into adventures. Our classmate Amanda Birdwell Hodges ’02 died of COVID-19 during the pandemic and the memories I treasure most were almost all things we did in the lazy hours and weekends on dorm.”
Taws is always interested in meeting other Chatham Hall community members, and invites anyone in the Southern Pines or Pinehurst, N.C. area to drop by The Country Bookshop for a visit.