Cleaning out some folders …

Came across two  great Can’t Not Do people – one across town, the other around the world. Cleaning out some old folders because I’m moving, i.e. my family just a few miles away. I save stories I come across and should’ve shared these awhile ago –


Foster High School in greater Seattle would be your “stereotypical” inner-city, challenging, demographically-diverse school. Their AP Calculus pass and Graduation rates have both risen sharply in the last few years. One paragraph stood out for me — “… Stable leadership was crucial, too, which the school achieved two-and-a-half years ago, when (Principal) Larson arrived with her strong listening skills and a deep commitment to the school. She graduated from Foster, as did her children, her parents and her grandparents. Listening = active listening (ch. 5), deep commitment = determined optimism (ch. 1), graduated from Foster (who she is at her core, ch. 2). There are a lot of elements going in the right direction at Foster, just like at White center Heights Elementary (pages 4-6), less than 5 miles away as the crow flies.

Principal Kim Larson and Foster’s story –


The other was Christa Preston with, whom I met be chance at a meeting in SF last year, and she sent me this followup note a few days later –

“Per your suggestion, here is what I can’t not do what I do — Oliva is 17. She speaks three languages. She loves cooking and wants to work in a restaurant and own a house with a room for her mother. If she had been born in America she would be in college or working and living independently. But she wasn’t. She was born in Uganda, a country where her down syndrome defines her.

I met Oliva while I was volunteering as a special needs teachers in Uganda. Our friendship started with her teaching me sign language. I taught her to cook. She, like 99% of girls like her, cannot read. No one thought she could learn. She like, 94% of children like her, has dropped out of primary school. She, like 2.7 million children like her, has been labeled a “curse” and will face a life of extreme poverty and abuse.

If her teachers had been trained she would have learned. She would have graduated with employable skills. She would have been able to contribute to her family. She would have had a future. I was too late to change the story for Oliva.  I will not be too late for others.

After 2 years of on the ground research I have developed a solution to ensure children like Oliva receive the quality education every child deserves. Currently only 1% of teachers in Uganda are trained in special needs education. I am developing a solution to make training courses available across the country via a teacher’s mobile phone, which creates an accessible resource center for teachers and parents to ensure they have the knowledge to address the unique needs of all children. ”


The two of them embody, personify what Can’t Not Do is all about and it had little to do with money.