Need some inspiration?

Are you one of the 10,244,615 viewers that has watched this Harvard Graduate School of Education graduation speech? Donovan Livingston addresses his classmates with spoken word and highlights the obstacles African-Americans have faced trying to get a formal education.

Watch the whole thing – one of my favourite parts is afterwards – as he stands, smiling at the applause, a good head above the rest of the people on the stage.

This speech will be quoted for years to come. My favourite part is his closing: “I belong among the stars. And so do you. And so do they. Together, we can inspire galaxies of greatness for generations to come. No, sky is not the limit. It is only the beginning. Lift off.”

Start your day as I just did. Grab a coffee and watch “Lift Off” here:

Calgary CAIS Schools Step Up

Last week, I got two notes – one email and one as part of a package in the mail. They were different notes, but they are both from remarkable women. In both cases, the notes were inspirational, and I have to share them.

On Thursday, in the mail, I got this note from Carol Grant-Watt, Head of West Island College in Calgary:


Thank you for the opportunity to host the CAIS National Student Leadership Conference. The experience was life changing and I am so proud of our students and staff. Please accept this signed book from our keynote speaker as a small token of appreciation from John Davidson and myself.

Perhaps you can see why this package surprised me. Carol runs a conference for CAIS students across the country. She invests her time and energy to make the event a success – and it was a huge success! – and this is all on top of everything else that her job as Head of School demands. Think about this – she does all the work for CAIS, then she sends a thank you gift to me. I was just so moved by this generosity and thoughtfulness. Now, thanks to her, I am looking forward to reading A House in the Sky by Amanda Lindhout.

Last Sunday, I got this note from Erin Corbett, Head of River Valley School, also in Calgary:

Hi Anne-Marie,

I thought you may be interested to know that RVS is accepting students that are now being evacuated to Calgary from Fort McMurray. We have two enrolled for next week and are planning on more families coming to us for support. As a school that was devastated by the flooding in 2013 and were shown immense generosity, I am so pleased that we can do something to help these families.

It was an incredible day, really. I spent the early morning putting together some pieces and reaching out to people to offer RVS support for the students who have been evacuated from Fort Mac. I then spent the remainder of the morning listening to Chief Wilton Littlechild & Deputy Minister Dr Jane Martin discuss the Truth & Reconciliation Committee and a school’s responsibilities in moving forward.

I am very proud to do this work. I just wanted to share that with someone, and thought of you.


Erin is amazing to find a way to support students at a challenging time in their lives. I cannot imagine what those families are feeling, but I bet they feel the love from the River Valley community at a time when they need it most. Again, here is a Head of School who is already busy with her regular responsibilities, who then takes on even more to help her school help others.

So on a Monday afternoon, I find myself thinking about these two women who made the time to step up. I feel proud to know them and to be a part of our CAIS community, where leaders like Carol and Erin have the courage to step up. But I also feel humbled and even a bit nervous. I want to focus on this question – how can I step up?

Thanks to Carol for texting me this video from the Leadership Conference: