Six years ago, when I was a Middle School Principal, I bought this ink drawing at a silent auction run by my school in Beijing. I didn’t know the artist but knew that she went to our Elementary School. I immediately loved her work.
The following year, I was visiting a second-grade classroom when I noticed the name “Aaliyah” printed on one of the student’s notebooks. “Are you Aaliyah Annie?” I asked hopefully. At first, Aaliyah shook her head ‘no.’ She then shyly said that her mother sometimes called her that.
From that day forward, I have had the distinct privilege to get to know this incredible student and artist. At the beginning of third grade, Aaliyah created this painting for our school’s 20th-anniversary.
Below is a picture of Aaliyah and me at that celebration.
At the end of third grade, Aaliyah painted this piece as a farewell present for me. It is proudly displayed in our family room.
Although we now live continents apart, I’ve been delighted to keep in touch with Aaliyah and her family. Today, Richard and I met Aaliyah and her mother, Anna, in Vancouver. As always happens with good friends, there was not one second of lull in our conversation.
Aaliyah (who has just completed seventh grade) surprised me with another beautiful piece of her art — the fifth in my collection! I immediately found the perfect place for it in our home.
Aaliyah is not only an extraordinary artist. She is a bright, well-rounded student with exceptional integrity.
Richard and I had just been discussing how one small action can have huge impact on our lives. If I hadn’t successfully bid on Aaliyah’s artwork those six years ago, I might never have come to know this remarkable young woman and her incredible family. I am very grateful that I did.