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Samara O’Gorman: Leading with her heart at elementary schools

Samara O’Gorman takes all the time she needs to answer a student’s question after her presentation at Edinburgh Elementary School of the EMSB on February 27. Photo: Mark Bergman
Samara O’Gorman takes all the time she needs to answer a student’s question after her presentation at Edinburgh Elementary School of the EMSB on February 27. Photo: Mark Bergman
Wednesday, May 8, 2024

This fall, Inspirations proudly welcomed Samara O’Gorman to the team as Advocate for Compassionate Leadership. She has been busy sharing her impactful message of leading with your heart to elementary school students across the English Montreal School Board (EMSB).

O’Gorman is a 25-year-old actress, singer, poet and Irish studies scholar. She can be found reading her poetry at public events around Montreal or participating in local St. Patrick’s parades, having been named queen in Montreal’s parade last year and Chateauguay’s this year. With a passion for mental well-being, O’Gorman donates a portion of sales of her debut poetry collection What If the Sun Died to youth mental health and suicide prevention causes.

With the support of Victoria Della Cioppa and Sima Youssef of the EMSB’s School Climate team, O’Gorman has melded her messages of kindness, leadership, community involvement, self-love and poetry into her presentation, and varies it to suit the specific mission of each school that she visits. While her tour was initiated for Pink Shirt Day, usually held on the last Wednesday each February, it is pertinent year-round.

O’Gorman’s first stop was at Carlyle Elementary School of the EMSB in December, where she addressed Grade 4 to 6 students. “Samara’s presentation was impressive, outstanding and relatable,” said Carlyle principal Dina Vourdousis. “Her unique style captured the attention and curiosity of her audience.”

“When I was your age, I came to elementary school dressed like a Disney Princess every day,” explains O’Gorman during her presentations. She now loves to wear colourful vintage dresses. While her style caused her difficulties fitting in at school, O’Gorman was not willing to be anyone but herself.“I’ve experienced bullying and understand the impact it can have,” she said. “By sharing my story and emphasizing the importance of kindness, I hope to inspire students to believe in the power of compassion and empathy.”

“Samara has manifested the negative effects of bullying into positive outcomes and life lessons to share and inspire each student,” added Vourdousis.

This Lester B. Pearson School Board alumna hopes to empower students to embrace their true selves, speak up without fear and contribute to creating an inclusive, supportive and safe environment in their schools and communities. “I achieve this by encouraging students to pursue their passions and by sharing my interests in Irish culture and poetry as a source of inspiration,” she said.

“The meaningful takeaway message that Samara shared with our students was to lead with their heart, follow their dreams and stay true to themselves,” said Laetitia Kachmar, interim principal of Edinburgh Elementary School (EMSB) after O’Gorman’s February 27 visit.

O’Gorman is excited to continue her tour into the 2024-25 school year at EMSB schools and those in other school boards. “While teaching students about leadership, they, in turn, have taught me so much with their creative and caring personalities. Every child deserves to learn the importance of staying true to themselves. It is precisely what I yearned for at their age.”

Presentations are available in English or in both French and English. She also offers poetry workshops.

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