Probably like millions of other people around the world, I've dreamed that I would be able to write that sentence, "I met Oprah," for as long as I can remember. And just recently, that dream actually came true. Not just Oprah, but Van Jones (CNN), and Rebecca Walsh, (The HALO Foundation).
I just might have to frame this screen shot... 😂
This week was an incredible reminder that anything truly is possible.
If I can meet Oprah Winfrey, anything is possible for any one of us.
And here's the most incredible part of that experience... in preparation for the show, Oprah's team asked us to complete six pages of homework. Of course, so much of what I wrote about, because the show was focused on service and how we can show up and serve in small and large ways in our lives (I know you are an expert in that because you are a teacher, after all), I wrote a lot about the work I am doing in service to you, teachers.
I was on cloud nine all week long, knowing that Oprah Winfrey was reading MY homework (seriously, a surreal experience). In every waking breath I was aware that Oprah, at any moment, could be reading about my vision for how to support you and serve you in much bigger ways than I've even shared with you yet.
And here's the part that makes those tiny hairs on the back of my neck stand up...
Out of all the questions she could have asked me...
Out of all the ways that show could have gone...
She literally asked me to share about the one question where I laid out that vision I have written to you about before.
In my precious five minutes with Oprah, I literally got to say these words to her:
"Oprah, part of my big dream is to fill an entire auditorium with new teachers and surprise them each with $2,000 worth of supplies and resources - money that I know most new teachers spend at the beginning of their careers to prepare for their first classrooms. This is especially precious money when you consider that a new teacher makes on average $30,000 a year."
I continued, "Although I serve new teachers through my podcast (in my nerves, I forgot to even mention the Academy - honestly, I was just amazed that I could even get a complete coherent sentence out, let alone have an intelligent conversation...)
"Although I serve new teachers through my podcast," I said, "The gap between what I do to help new teachers and what I know they need feels huge. How do I manage that, when it feels like no matter what I do, it will never be enough?"
I didn't even talk about the fact that I know you buy shoes for that little one who arrives without any. I didn't even mention how I know you keep granola bars and snacks on hand for those kids who come to school hungry. I didn't need to, because Van Jones, whose parents were both teachers, acknowledged that for us.
But both Oprah's and Van's response to my question brought tears to my eyes, and I realized in that moment that this auditorium dream of mine, just like meeting Oprah herself, is entirely possible... as is so much more.
I will never forget the moment Oprah spoke directly to me about the work I am doing to support new teachers. She recalled Maya Angelou, sharing with a room full of accomplished and successful black women, these moving words:
“To be seen, to be heard, to be valued enough to be thanked, that is the gift.”
Oprah then spoke directly to the work I am already doing to see, to hear, and to value the awesome work teachers, and especially new teachers, are doing, and acknowledged that it is a great gift.
Oprah, Van, and Rebecca all encouraged me to just start small... to find a way to support and fund even one teacher, then five teachers... then, ten... then, 25... and to continue to build until before we know it, we just may have our auditorium, my friends.
They also encouraged me to think about partnerships and about reaching out to individuals and companies that might want to make an incredible impact on future generations.
I'll never forget Oprah, Van, & Rebecca's words of encouragement (I may be paraphrasing just a little here):
"Giving teachers stuff is the easy part -
all you need is a czar to partner with and help make it happen!"
So, I'm off to find my czar. If you know any, please send them my way.
Sound crazy to you? So did meeting Oprah. But hey, I did that last week.
Anything is possible, my friends.
So, where do we go from here? Well, first of all, if you already wrote to Oprah and her team, I truly want to thank you again for taking the time to write to Oprah to share how the podcast and the Academy have helped you as a teacher. You just never know where this might lead!
If you haven't written in yet but feel inspired to do so, here's the invitation inside Oprah Daily:
Oprah Daily’s series Good People Doing Great Things highlights everyday heroes who see a need and are stepping up to help. Want to celebrate a local leader who’s making an impact? Email us at [email protected] and we may feature them in an upcoming column.
I will definitely keep you in the loop as this story continues to unfold!
If you'd like to watch the full show on service as part of Oprah's The Life You Want series inside Oprah Daily, just click here (it costs $25 to become a member).
With great respect and gratitude for who you are and what you do,
P.S. If you did write to Oprah's team but forgot to blind copy me on your email, please reach out and let me know so I can thank you!
Join our mailing list to receive the latest news from our team. 💛💕 Your information will not be shared.