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Blog: Mary Beth Campbell

Category: Inspiration
Posted by: Mary Beth Campbell 9/17/2014
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Welcome back! Hopefully this newsletter finds you happily and healthily into the start of another new year.

Isn’t it interesting that, as teachers, we get to experience two “new years”; we get the one in December that the rest of the world gets, and we also get this one, the one happening right now as the school year begins anew. And, although maybe not consciously, it could be argued that we bring many of the same traditions and feelings to the beginning of this “new year” that we do to that other new year.  Think about it…

We make resolutions:

This year I WILL grade and get all my papers back to students within the same week!

We see hope and possibility:

I can’t wait to meet all my new students this year and change their lives!

We celebrate:

Hey fellow staff members, let’s all go out to the coffee shop/bar and have a couple of lattes/tasty beverages to really start this year off right!

We look back on the year that has passed:

Holy cow, last year was amazing/terrifying. I hope this year is just as good/waaaay better.

Also similar to the other, more traditional New Year, it’s often difficult to find the necessary time to reflect on what the past year really meant for us. Often, we get busy right away declaring what we’re going to do in this upcoming year and/or reporting out what happened in the last year.  That can make it hard to find the time to think about the significance the last year held for us relative to our own growth, learning and personal “ah-ha” moments. We’re so focused on what the year was (Good? Bad? ) that we rarely ask ourselves What did I learn? or How did I grow?

Category: Inspiration
Posted by: Mary Beth Campbell 12/11/2013
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I heard a story on NPR recently that bares some thought. There is a giant sequoia here in California that used to be one of the world’s tallest trees. It has been alive for over 2000 years and in 1999 stood 254 feet tall. Out of the hundreds of sequoia’s growing in Kings Canyon National Park, this tree stood out. It was so distinguished that it was named, “The Washington Tree”. 

Over the last few years, the Washington tree has changed quite a bit; it is now a mere 115 feet tall with most of its upper canopy fallen and its trunk completely hollow.

What really caught my attention with this story, beyond the sadness of it, was the concluding statement of one of the park naturalists. With a kind of poetic insight, the naturalist remarked that although the tree had been stunning, the loss of its crown has allowed a new generation of giant sequoia to grow in its new, smaller shadow, whereas before, it was so massive that nothing below it could sustain for lack of light. 

For our work in building exemplary transition programs, there are two salient points. The first is the notion of growing so tall that you are named. We see over and over that the very best programs are the result of a professional determined to be tall on their campus. In order for your program to thrive and become sustainable, it requires a champion, someone who understands the impact of a powerful program and continues to stand up for its success.

The same can be said for all great achievements. . . .

Category: Inspiration
Posted by: Mary Beth Campbell 4/11/2013
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Bloom where you’re planted.

To me, nothing captures the essence of perseverance more than this simple phrase.

Trite? Maybe.

True? Absolutely.

As spring nears and I see plants of all sorts emerging from their wintry depths, it never ceases to amaze me how perseverant and creative they can when choosing where to bloom. None of us are strangers to the dandelion that pops up in a sidewalk crack or the clover that somehow flourishes, despite gravity, on the side of a retaining wall. And what about that beautiful plant so carefully planted in your window box that suddenly unfurls a version of itself, to your surprise, on the neglected side of your house? You know you didn’t plant it there and yet, there it is, also doing its best to be beautiful.  And sometimes it’s the discovery of something unexpected like that that allows you to see potential that you’ve never seen before. What if I cleared the dirt here? Planted a vine there? Painted the fence? Trimmed those trees? And before you know it, that one little errant plant, blooming where it was planted, is responsible for a side yard makeover.

So, while I love the plant in the flower box for its showy beauty, I see the one on the side of the house and appreciate its fearlessness in growing wherever it wanted, and am grateful for the inspiration it provided.

Not all of us are born in colorful pots procured from Crate & Barrel or planted with loving care in Martha Stewart’s flowerbed. But all of us can bloom. Anywhere. It just might take us a little longer. We might need to scramble to find resources not readily available to us. We might need to stand a little taller to be noticed. We might not flourish initially. But, in the end, we bloom.

Category: Inspiration
Posted by: Mary Beth Campbell 10/11/2012
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Don’t Fall, Double Down


The days are getting shorter, the weather cooler, the leaves are changing color and beginning to tumble to the ground. As a season, we call it Fall. What an interesting name for a season. Fall, as a name, more than its next-door neighbors, summer and winter, truly captures the feeling of the season. With the shortened daylight hours, Fall begets a diminishing of activity, a pulling back, as we prepare for the long winter lurking around the corner. 


As we pull away and start to hunker down, it becomes really easy to begin to fall off from the commitment to WEB and Link Crew. Orientation is a distant memory at best, regular school days might be feeling like they are bit of a grind and enthusiasm of Leaders (as well as yours) could be waning. Now, more than ever, it is important to double down on commitment to the program and to your Leaders so that they may continue to reach out in support of the 6th/9th graders. Leaders must still continue to be inspired and trained, to give them skills, as well as motivation, to step up when needed. They too are feeling the season; continuing to motivate and inspire them will ensure that they remain united and steadfast in their mission. Right now, no one knows how true this is better than WEB Coordinator, Tom Blair from South Milwaukee Middle School in Wisconsin.


Tom recently sent us this story that captures the necessity of WEB beyond orientation day and, more significantly, the role it can play in a crisis:. . .

Category: Inspiration
Posted by: Mary Beth Campbell 2/8/2012
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Here it is, the time of year that feels like “no man’s land”, when the school year advances at a snail’s pace and the trek toward June seems like the impossible journey. The long, dark dreary days of winter do nothing to help the situation. This is the time of year when it’s easy to forget how important the work you’re doing is, when the importance of the work is over shadowed by the need to just get the work done. And, let’s face it, when the need to just get it done becomes the overriding motivation, one thing’s for sure, it’s not going to be your best work.