2017 Cairn Guidance Team Retreat

3 mile hike up Ryan Mountain in Joshua Tree National Park, CA

3 mile hike up Ryan Mountain in Joshua Tree National Park, CA

We celebrated, relaxed, worked, brainstormed, set goals, updated our strategic plan, laughed and enjoyed 3 days in Palm Springs, CA! In order for Samantha, Liz and I to continue the work we do supporting schools in the US to be healthy, safe environments so kids can thrive, we have to be strategic, work hard, align our work to our mission and create balance in our own lives- both personally and professionally. 

We spent 3 warm, sunny days in Palm Springs CA working on setting updated goals and establishing timelines around these three key buckets of our Strategic Plan:

Building a Team Culture of Wellness & Balance
This component of our strategic plan dives deep into how we retain our staff, offering competitive salaries/earnings, offering benefits such as professional development, travel and growth opportunities. Finally, we each set personal wellness goals for the year and check in on these regularly- a component of our employee wellness strategy. We also commit to doing at least two health related activities as a team annually. 

Positioning for Growth & Sustainability
This bucket focuses on the health the business, ensuring we grow with intention, we sustain our staff and clients in order to move the needle in school health. We define what growth is (not always revenue) and determine what support we continue to need to stay a fiscally healthy business. 

Equipping Educators to ISH (Institutionalize School Health) 
Finally, this section of our plan is focused on the products, services and training events we offer. The actual work we do for clients, the products we develop and offer and partnerships we develop that are strategic yet genuine. 

Our team wishes you a Happy Holidays and Happy New Year and we hope we are fortunate to have the opportunity to work with you in 2018! Enjoy a few photos from our time together in CA!

Jess, Samantha, Liz 

Enjoying our time through the strange  Robolights  installation, a Palm Springs go-to event over the holidays!

Enjoying our time through the strange Robolights installation, a Palm Springs go-to event over the holidays!

Joshua Tree National Park!

Joshua Tree National Park!

Beautiful morning breakfast with views of the mountains!

Beautiful morning breakfast with views of the mountains!

OEA Choice Trust's School Employee Wellness Conference

Kudos to OEA Choice Trust! Their sixth annual School Employee Wellness (SEW) Conference was a huge success. The conference, held in Oregon during spring break, attracts many public health partners, community based organizations, teachers, superintendents, principals, school nurses, human resource directors, and other types of educators that work in school systems. The event is up to 275 participants from 50 their first year!

Best part of the SEW conference is seeing colleagues that I've known for over 10 years!

Best part of the SEW conference is seeing colleagues that I've known for over 10 years!

This conference does an incredible job of walking the talk. It's held in Bend, a beautiful area of Oregon and each morning prior to opening sessions, group yoga, runs and walks are offered. Mid-afternoon, Zumba, walks, runs, essential oils and healthy snack learning boosts are offered. The food was colorful and nutrient rich. There were times to network, tell your story, connect and find opportunities to find intersections of your work with others. 

I facilitated two sessions, one on School Health Advisory Committees and their role in sustaining a school health initiative, and, Creating Buy-In and Addressing Resistance for your School Employee Wellness Program. Both were well attended with great participation in activities and rich dialogue. 

I love being asked to present at this conference for a variety of reasons, but most importantly, I love hearing the stories schools share to create a culture of health for their school staff. The examples of taking care of your employees so that they can do their best jobs with kids, so that they are present, so that they are healthy, and, so they stay in their position (retention). This event is a perfect example of the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child Framework in action. Taking one component- employee wellness, but using a coordinated, collaborative approach that engages public health, parents, internal educators, leadership, community partners, grocery stores, gyms, health care systems and policy makers to support one of the most important jobs in this country!

Balance During the Holidays

Last month, the Cairn Guidance team spent two days working on our new five year strategic plan. We came up with three big strategic directions, including:

  • Positioning for Growth and Sustainability;
  • Equipping Educators to Institute School Health; and
  • Building a Team Culture of Wellness and Balance.

It's an exciting time to have an exceptional team in place. We are growing in many ways! We've tripled our staff and increased the number of clients we have at any given time from an average of 8 to 14. We have diversified our geographic reach in the United States and the content we are working on has broadened.

With growth, as exciting as it is, comes more hours, increased number of proposal to write, calls, meetings, invoices, and of course, more stress. Because our team prioritized balance and wellness for ourselves, I'm excited to plan what this really means for us internally. How do we take care of ourselves so that we can continue to be present, commit the time and energy to fulfill our mission of creating places of health and well-being where all youth are healthy, connected, educated and achieving their full potential?

Next week, our team will begin to take a deep dive into the Building a Team Culture of Wellness and Balance portion of our strategic plan and set achievable goals and timelines. We'll keep you posted and encourage you to continue to take care of YOU first, even if you have a staff, clients, life partner, spouse or children! 

Happy Holidays from the Cairn Guidance Team!
Jess, Liz, and Samantha

Cairn Guidance Work Updates

We have just been notified that we will be presenting two sessions in Bend Oregon at the School Employee Wellness Conference in March for OEA Choice TrustJess will share her information on creating sustainable staff wellness programs as well as moderate a panel of school health champions sharing they staff wellness success stories. 

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No more cupcakes for birthday parties?

What do you mean I can't task a student do laps around the track when he/she misbehaves?
I can't hold my annual cookie dough fundraiser for our football and band uniforms?
What do you mean I can't take away recess when a student hasn't completed their work?

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Employee Mental Wellness

I'm a school health consulting biz... so why am I working with a large Senior Living Business called Gulf Coast Health Care (GCHC)? Well, some of my work is outside of school health. For example, I'm working with Alta Planning in Grand Rapids MI, funded by Department of Transportation on helping create a more bicycle and pedestrian friendly community. I've developed programs for the Peace Corps and worked in Homer, Alaska to facilitate a public health plan for their community.

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Sugarloaf Maine; Schoolsite Health Promotion Conference

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I'm here! It's gorgeous. 4 months ago when Susan Berry at the Maine Department of Education contacted me about working with them again at the end of June at Sugarloaf Resort, how could I say no? I arrived at 2pm today, took a hike part way up a ski mountain I haven't been to since high school. No joke, this place is in the middle of Maine. It took about 4.5 hours to drive here from Boston this morning. The weather is perfect and it's nice to be here a little early. 

Since I'm here for the entire 3-day conference, Susan and I worked together to determine a few opportunities for me to participate in the conference. This conference has been held for 29 years (!) and focuses on school employee wellness. So, tomorrow is the first day and I'll be facilitating the opening energizer to get school teams acquainted and another activity to get the entire group of participants engaged in the topics of the week, including personal wellness, school site wellness and partnership development. Wednesday I will be the opening keynote for the day and Thursday I'll be facilitating a workshop called, "Honing your Stairway Speech" which allows participants opportunities to practice advocacy skills around school health issues. I hope to get some networking time in while kayaking, hiking and enjoying the amazing views from beautiful Maine! 

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