Amazing; it is an amazing feeling to be in the same, very crowed, room with Oprah Winfrey.  First words: “No, you are not all getting cars.” Her topic today is her school, in South Africa, the Oprah Winfrey leadership academy.    It is really affirming to hear her say things like: 

  •  “I believe in what you do!” [at independent schools]! 
  • “Now I am one of you!” [an independent school leader]
  • “It is not as easy as it looks[to lead an independent school], it is the hardest thing in the world.” 
  • “Educate a woman and change a community!” 
  • “I am certain these girls [from her students] will change Africa!” 

Oprah shows a wonderful video about her school, and there are very few dry eyes in this room.

Now she is onto the difficulties of running a school for real: drainage, plumbing (urinals too high).  

“I did a lot of things backwards.”  

“In retrospect, I would have worried less about picking exceptional students and more about finding exceptional staff and teachers. ”

“You don’t have a visionary school without visionary teachers.” 

“I expected too much too soon.” 

“Projected budgets are made by people with great senses of humor!” 

“After getting the call [about suspected abuse], I cried for half an hour, wailing, because I felt I let the girls down, I had promised to protect them.” 

“If you tell the truth, you can be criticized, but you can be never hurt.”

“I want them to speak up for the rest of their lives, to speak up for their community.” 

I want the girls “to be seated at the table where the decisions are made about the future.” 

“I feel like Mr. Chips, I feel like these girls are my daughters, not just Africa’s daughters, but my daughters. I don’t feel like I am alone in that.”

“I admire what you do, and I am trying to do it too, and I thank you all for being such a great inspiration to me.” 

Standing Ovation.  Awesome.