Kemo Sabe

One of my favourite things about my job is the sheer variety of interesting projects that I get to have my hands on. From student leadership to professional development, we have smart things on the go all the time, tapping into the clever brains of dedicated volunteers across the country.

Over the last year, I have been intrigued to watch the Collaborative Boarding Project grow from an inspired idea from a team of Admission Directors, to a large-scale strategic initiative including all 28 boarding schools across the country.

The Project was launched to increase interest in boarding and in Canada as a destination. As you may know, the landscape for Canadian boarding schools is changing, and these new challenges called for a new approach. I believe that with change comes opportunity.

We are proud to say that we just had our 18th school commit to the Premium level of our Boarding Project. Working together like this means that we are able to partner with other organizations – like TABS who will work with us on a “Why Boarding” campaign, and like DFAIT who will work with us on a “Why Canada” campaign. Together we can do what couldn’t be done by an individual school, and our collaboration will make all boarding schools stronger.

I was speaking to David Hadden this week, who is working with our team and advising for the Project. I said to him, “I’m really excited that all of these schools are eager to participate in the Project, but we really need to communicate and demonstrate value; the pressure is on, and we need to deliver.”

There was an exaggerated pause at the other end of the phone (typical of Mr. Hadden). He then said, “What do you mean ‘we’, kemo sabe?”

I had one of those moments where you sort of know the reference, but-not-for-sure…. So I took to Google. The expression comes from an episode of the Lone Ranger television show (more David’s vintage than mine!). In this scene, the Lone Ranger and his sidekick Tonto see an ambush on the horizon, and the Lone Ranger remarks, “This doesn’t look good – I don’t think we will make it out of this alive”. Tonto replies, “What do you mean by ‘we’ kemo sabe?”

Kemo sabe is translated as, ‘trusty scout’ or ‘faithful friend,’ and together they seemed to right almost any wrong within the half-hour time frame of the show. The first radio episodes of the show premiered January 30, 1933, and reruns of the Lone Ranger were still being transmitted as of August 2010. That’s got to be one of the longest running partnerships in history!

The irony here is that the show is called the Lone Ranger, but he was not alone. And my point is that this is a great metaphor for our Boarding Project and, in fact, all national collaborations.

Here are a few of my favourite examples this week. The benchmarking reports were sent – the Business Officers have worked on this process over the years to ensure that the data is relevant to our schools. The Advancement Professionalsmet for their conference, and I learned that they also organize regional PD, awards, and mentor program. The e Learning Consortium – a provincial initiative that is gaining momentum nationally – posted a video of their students’ views.

I am extremely proud that our schools aren’t ‘Lone Rangers’ – they are increasingly thinking in terms of ‘we’ and seeking opportunities for national collaboration. Our schools may be competitive, but there is no question that generating more interest and always improving our programs, will be better for all.

We’re in this together, kemo sabes.

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