A pressing phone call to the Atlanta Girls’ School the other day sent Pinney Allen into the lunchroom.
It thrummed with the energy of her young charges. With breaking news to deliver, Allen, the head of school, needed their attention. She might as well have walked outside to try to still the wind.
She flicked the lights. The din persisted. (The school’s 217 students, in grades 6 through 12, all have much to say.)
Then Allen pulled a magic arrow from her educator’s quiver: Who wants to be on “The Oprah Winfrey Show?” That captured 217 senses of imagination.
This week, members of the school community will be watching the final episodes of Winfrey’s show, hoping for a glimpse of themselves. Winfrey’s gift of $175,000 in 2008 helped the school meet a $1 million grant challenge (an anonymous benefactor pledged $250,000 if the school could raise $750,000 from other donors, and the Queen of All Media clinched it with a stroke of her checkbook).
As the show was winding down, producers contacted the school for some video to potentially be aired during an education-themed episode scheduled for Tuesday. “Oprah has been so committed to education. Atlanta has been particularly lucky,” said Allen, noting Winfrey’s support of institutions such as Morehouse College and the Ron Clark Academy. “I have tremendous appreciation for people who see the power and potential that education can provide.”
Winfrey’s gift to the Atlanta Girls’ School came at a key moment, as the school was poised to grow but the economy was poised to tank. “A phone call suddenly came and a Federal Express envelope arrived,” Allen said, recalling the last time the telephone prompted her to share joyous news out of Chicago with her girls. “That certainly is a thrilling way to end the afternoon.”
The school has sent invitations but Winfrey hasn’t been by to visit.
- Jennifer Brett/The Buzzfirstname.lastname@example.org