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Blog: Carolyn Hill

Category: Inspiration
Posted by: Carolyn Hill 1/15/2015
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New Years resolutions. Yeah, right. How many of us fall into the trap of starting the new year with resolution to change? And how many of us fail quite quickly? According to most studies, 92% of us fail in the first month so we’re in good company…or at least a lot of company. That’s not to say some people can make them work but the success rate is low for most. There are basically three reasons why they fail:

1.  People make unrealistic resolutions;

2.  People don’t equip themselves with the mental ammunition to fight off doubt and continue with their goals; and

3.  Using guilt or fear as motivation, or resolving to stop doing something is not effective.

Just the word resolution sets us up for failure. To resolve is to decide firmly and even force a change. And any time we exert force, we automatically meet a counterforce or resistance; it’s physics.

So, why not think in terms of intention instead of resolution. Intention is to simply to begin to aim and to plan and doesn’t automatically create resistance. It is the “being” before the “doing”. It is the visioning. It is the dreaming. It is full of hope. It is your own personal “Yes, and…”

Category: Inspiration
Posted by: Carolyn Hill 11/21/2014
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Thanksgiving is such a cool holiday. People. Food. Gratitude. What more could we ask for? And it is a time to pause, reflect and truly appreciate those who make a difference. To say, “Thanks” and to possibly do some more giving as well.

At Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Eastvale, CA, Annie Hanson and the rest of her coordinating team takes the opportunity to thank their leaders for all that they are doing to improve the culture and support the freshmen at their school. They host a “Thanks for Giving” banquet in their gym. All the Link Leaders dress up and the gym is filled with a circle of tables for their feast as well as a Karaoke Korner, Just Dance and Video Games on a giant screen, card tables with board games and a photo booth. The adults provide the turkeys (chickens actually!) and the kids all bring a side dish for a fantastic potluck. It is playful and fun and a great opportunity for the Leaders to be thanked for all of their efforts so far. 

At Martin Luther Middle School in OH, the WEB Leaders decided to merge Thanksgiving with Staff Appreciation and threw a luncheon for the entire staff. They decorated the library replete with candles (battery charged so no fire hazard!), nice tablecloths, real plates, silverware and glasses. Each place card had a staff member’s name on it with positive words to describe that person. The WEB Leaders all dressed up and served the teachers, having been trained in proper and genial service. Then, while the staff was eating, some other WEB Leaders did a Reader’s Theater, reading appreciation letters to each staff member. The details are awesome and really show a genuine appreciation.

Category: Inspiration
Posted by: Carolyn Hill 4/17/2014
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According to Wikipedia (and we all know that is a completely valid source), there is a private initiative to have the third Thursday of April be recognized and celebrated as “National High Five Day”. We say, why not. It’s official from the Boomerang Project. Today, April 17, is National High Five Day!

It seems only natural that we would celebrate this day since the High Five seems to be the official Boomerang Project greeting. Think about the number of High Fives you got at your Basic Training. Those of you fellow High Fivers out there loved it. Those of you who don’t dig them…c’mon, even you got into the swing of the High Five during those three days. I bet that you even went back to school the next morning, started to high five someone and then realized you were back at school and maybe it wasn’t appropriate. Today we say loudly and clearly, it’s not just appropriate, it’s essential and awesome! You know you want to. Go ahead, do it!

The history of the High Five is imprecise at best.  Most of the legends associate it with sports, mostly from the late 70s to early 80s. Does it really matter if it was a couple of baseball players (the Dodgers’ Dusty Baker and Glenn Burke) or the University of Louisville Cardinals’ basketball team? All that we know is that life became more joyous, more celebratory and more fun with the invention of the High Five. No one person or small group of people needs credit for that. The legacy itself is their credit.

Category: Inspiration
Posted by: Carolyn Hill 2/12/2014
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Getting through the world can sometimes feel hard. And then there it is. A reminder that is so simple. So obvious.

There is was. A gaggle of children (I’m guessing a second or third grade class) walking along the sidewalk probably on a small fieldtrip of some sort. As only 7-8 year olds can do, they were all over the place. With only one adult in the front and one adult in the rear, I wondered if they would all make the entire round trip without injury.

But then something happened. As they approached a busy intersection, they all formed up, two by two, grasped hands and settled into safely crossing the street. I giggled at the sight and as I looked in my rearview mirror I was struck by how much that brief moment is all we need to know to get through the world; and what WEB and Link Crew do for your school community.

So many thoughts ran through my head as I watched these little kids.

Category: Inspiration
Posted by: Carolyn Hill 8/15/2013
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The process of learning a new language is not easy. Many of us can remember the struggle of learning even the basic vocabulary of a second language and/or watching students struggle as they learn English as their second language.

Learning the language of Leadership is not very different. While often we think that leadership is something that someone is either born with or not, that just is simply not true. It can be taught. It can be learned. And it all starts with the language.

Let’s first take a look at the basic language learning process.

When we start the process, we are enthusiastic and ready to dive in.

As we begin to pick up the core pieces of the system, we typically meet a fair level of confusion. It’s easy to lose heart and simply stop. But we have to keep going. Confusion is just part of the process.

When we start to more fully understand all of the parts and pieces of the system, confusion starts to diminish.

At this point, it is common to have a “Click” moment when the language comes together.

But this is just the beginning of the process. Now comes the harder part of internalizing the system. We have to incorporate structural exercises and immersive activities to internalize the patterns.

At this point we can start to use the language effectively. It is not uncommon, though, to experience an ongoing cycle of frustration and breakthrough. We might experience mental fatigue and want to give up on learning the language.

But if we can continue to practice, we will experience reinvigoration and renewed enthusiasm. By going beyond this point, we ensure we have the content and processes in place to reach fluency over time.

With the core mastered, it is a matter of remaining consistent in the content and processes until we have reached our desired level of competence and fluency.

Now let’s take that same process of learning a language and lay it over the language of Leadership for our WEB and Link Crew Leaders.

Enthusiastic and ready to dive in: When your Leaders came to training and orientation, both you and they were stoked! Let’s do this thing! Let’s be awesome! Let’s change lives!

Confusioneasy to lose heart and simply stop: Then things didn’t go exactly as planned…it never does. Maybe a freshman was resistant or a parent wouldn’t leave . . . .

Category: Inspiration
Posted by: Carolyn Hill 2/13/2013
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Paczki are deep-fried, jelly filled pastries that are traditionally eaten on Fat Tuesday. While originally a Polish tradition, the practice continues in the Midwest where Polish immigrants brought their culture generations ago. And, lucky for us, we were hosting a WEB and Link Crew Basic Training in Michigan on Fat Tuesday…so bring on the Paczki! Yummy! And what a great opportunity to have cultural experience (fortunately, when it’s a cultural experience by the way, the calories don’t count!). 

With the Paczki came a conversation about other cultural experiences and how culture gets formed. Culture is formed by traditions, philosophies and practices committed by a group again and again. Families have a culture. Circles of friends have a culture. Towns and cities have a culture. States have a culture. Regions have a culture. And, yes, schools have a culture.

If someone were to spend an hour in your school, what would they say your culture is? What would it feel like? What would they see? Would they want to spend more time there? Or would they be looking for the exit door quickly? What we do each day, creates our school culture and WEB and Link Crew are integral parts to creating a school culture.

Category: Inspiration
Posted by: Carolyn Hill 8/8/2012
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It’s pretty obvious what the August newsletter needs to focus on…trainings and orientations! Bring ‘em on! If you are looking at your transition program leader training and orientation days in the rearview mirror, congratulations! Most of you, though, are in the midst of or starting to gear up for this very exciting time.


In order to prepare you, here are the top three things that will help you achieve the excellence that we know you have in you:


  1. Get the details taken care of ahead of time. There are so many little specifics in the logistics arena that need attention for WEB and Link Crew to be successful (as well as ease your day and exponentially increase your enjoyment). First, have you looked at the checklists that are in your Coordinator’s Handbook? They can be quite valuable in preparing and avoiding the last minute stressors. Just to hit on a few of the struggles that we most hear about or see at schools: supply bags completely prepped, nametags and grouping done with the database, use of facilities coordinated and confirmed and sound system ready to rock. If any one of those is ignored, panic can easily overtake the experience. Remember to use your A-Team and your Leaders to help and communicate with everyone!
Category: Inspiration
Posted by: Carolyn Hill 6/12/2012
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Hanging in our office we have a 112-year-old redwood gutter planted with a variety of ferns and, above that, there are two grow lights that run a couple times a day, illuminating the plants so that they thrive.

So many odd and interesting things in that sentence to think about. For one, plants in a gutter? Two, an old growth redwood gutter hanging in an office? And three…grow lights? Hmmmmmm.

Why such an offbeat opening for our final newsletter of the school year? Because, no matter where you are, all around us lies inspiration and opportunity for reflection. It’s not always necessary to set aside a time to “find” inspiration or opportunities to reflect . We simply need to pay attention, look around, breathe and think.

This humble gutter that hangs here not only beautifies our space, but it also represents three essential ideas that can be used in your Link Crew and WEB programs and beyond.

Category: Inspiration
Posted by: Carolyn Hill 4/11/2012
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While WEB and Link Crew were not initially designed to be anti-bullying programs, lo and behold, we find ourselves in the midst of a society hyper focused on the need for anti-bullying efforts…and people are turning to the Boomerang Project for answers. Yes, you, as a WEB/Link Crew Coordinator are part of a zeitgeist. Welcome to the movement!


Category: Inspiration
Posted by: Carolyn Hill 10/12/2011
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Last week we had the honor of sitting at a table where three Link Leaders met with Tom Torlakson, CA State Superintendent of Public Instruction. The Leaders both humbled and awed Mr. Torlakson, as well as the other public officials who were in the meeting, with their stories of being freshmen at their respective schools as well as now being Link Crew Leaders.


We were reminded that Link Crew and WEB are so much about the stories, both the challenges and the successes, that the students have to tell. Each of their stories was different, of course, but all had a common thread that ran through them: a picture of struggle, compassion and conquering. Follow this link to read Jay-R’s, Abraham’s and Anne’s stories as well as find out how you can share your students’ stories on our website.