**** Reflections of an EduDad ****

Dr. Joe Mazza

Who is your Lyn Hilt?

Four years ago I started edu-blogging, tweeting, connecting and sharing on social networks. I was scared to death at first since most around me thought of “social media” as a form of profanity.

However, the connections I’ve made changed my world and have helped me envision a new path for myself along the lines of connectivity. What I have learned has helped me become a “lead learner” not just in my role working for kids but in life. There are many student, teacher, parent and leader trailblazers I’ve leaned on to show me the ropes, but former Pennsylvania elementary principal, now her district’s edtech guru Lyn Hilt is someone whose online and offline “posts” have kept me thinking and inspired.


Lyn’s previous blog “The Principal’s Posts” was the place she openly shared her thoughts and reflections on change, collaboration, leadership, transparency, teaching and edtech ideas. I stumbled upon it as an elementary principal looking for “another Pennsylvania elementary principal” who was engaged in this connected work for the benefit for kids. You know the drill – sometimes you have to find an exemplar out there doing something great for kids that is in the same role you are to present a case for change to your supervisors.

For me that was Lyn. And looking back four years, I’m lucky to know her “in real life” beyond the profile pic, tweets and blogs. I was able to meet her “work family” during my dissertation process in studying her school’s family engagement efforts and her “home family” while getting our toddlers together for a Phillies game. We continue to connect in supporting the needs of students, staff and families at conferences and during the college courses she teaches. Lyn is someone who is a collaborator by default. She is never afraid to reach out for help, gives herself little credit when accomplishing a lot and leads by example. She might have over 15,000 followers on Twitter (@LynHilt), but she will connect with anyone at anytime if it means helping kids and teachers. She is what epitomizes “The PLN” (Personal Learning Network) – in my opinion the best thing our field of education has going here in 2014.


Hilt – Mazza Playdate, August 2013.

Those who get it are well aware – The PLN is about people. Yes there are thousands of awesome ideas being shared everyday on how to help the multitude of different students we serve, but those who continue to dismiss social media’s positive impact on our field still don’t quite get one thing: This work is about people. Whether we’re engaging families, implementing BYOD/1:1, engaging a deeper level of student voice in schools or infusing innovation into our K-20 schools – it is the relationships that either keeps our learners inspired and coming back for more or makes them wish they didn’t get out of bed that morning.  Instead of waiting until teacher appreciate week to “happen,” we (leaders, teachers, community members) need to take the time EACH DAY to articulate to people near and far how much they matter, and how their knowledge and efforts are being leveraged in ways they didn’t even know existed. Commit to valuing educator morale. We can all learn something from the culture of our respective PLN. How can we then infuse this healthy environment into our respective organizations?

So who is your Lyn Hilt? Take 30 seconds and recognize someone in the comments below that you feel has kindled a fire within you to be better at what you do.

Image credit: trevorproject.tumbr.com

Image credit: trevorproject.tumbr.com

Categorized as: Connected Teaching, Learning & Leadership | Leadership | New Leaders | Social Media | Technology Integration


  1. My Lyn Hilt would be @davemeister_ and @nharm. Naomi is a friend who showed me how to use Twitter for educational purposes and Dave is a superintendent in Paris, IL who was my first follower and a role model for how to use Twitter to share information about your school/district. Dave and Naomi are my Twitter parents, but my really cool Twitter uncle would be John Pederson (@ijohnpederson). John led me to realize that tech in education is all about making connections to other positive and engaged educators.

    I also have to give mad love to Jessica Johnson (@principalj) and Jay Posick (@posickj). They are fellow Wisconsin principals who have become very good friends to me. We met through Twitter, and are in daily communication through some sort of digital technology (texts, Voxer, Facebook, etc.). They are my original #wiamigos.

    Great post Joe. Lyn is amazing and you…, you’re OK. 😉

    • Curt,
      I really enjoy learning how friends like yourself became connected way back when. There are relationships being made that intersect each day. The connectivity really has changed my career, and I think we’re only scratching the surface on what’s to come. Glad we connected and look forward to many more years of learning from you.


  2. rgallwitz says:

    Joe and Lyn,

    This post is pretty special. It certainly made me smile today. The power of connecting with others online and then getting to meet them in person is really pretty cool. I have been blessed to follow the work of both you and Lyn. Professionally I have grown by just reading and watching what you have accomplished in your schools. On a more personal note, I really enjoy seeing the pictures of your families on Instagram and watching your kids grow up. The personal connection matters. I’m thankful that I have had the opportunity to connect with the both of you.


    So this blog post has officially been retitled to “Who is your Lyn Hilt and Joe Mazza?”


    • Joe Mazza says:

      Ryan – first off likewise. Love seeing what all of you in O-H-I-O folks are up to which is quite unique because we all met in person first at Mid-Ohio, then we’ve continued to share our work together. I also apologize for all the toddler pics on my Instagram – just can’t get enough of the little guy. Speaking of kids hope you and Laurie enjoying the upcoming baseball and softball seasons.

  3. Ben Gilpin says:


    You are so correct. It is all about the connections and relationships, “It’s about the people”.

    I must say two #WiAmigos really pushed my thinking three years ago. They would be @CurtRees and @PrincipalJ.

    I enjoy the F2F connections, it’s really odd that when I have met any of my Twitter friends F2F we typically jump right into conversation. It is as though we’ve already met…I guess we have (in a way). I enjoyed bumping into you last year at ASCD, and I hope our paths cross again in the near future. Keep inspiring Joe!

  4. Jessica Johnson (@principalj), @BethLisowski, and Kaye Hendrickson (@middleleveled) inspired me when I entered the Twitterverse. I’ve met them all face to face now, and they are amazing!

    • Joe Mazza says:

      Melissa – the coolest (and maybe most awkward) thing is meeting people for the first time outside of their profile picture. Amazing how hiding behind a computer weakens the shyness factor and lets introverts swim in the same waters as everyone else. Definite implications for students.

  5. John Fritzky says:

    I understand what you are saying Joe, making connections with others has changed my career as an educator. For me, yourself and Tony Sinanis were the ones who began to open doors to a bigger world outside of my school. Thank you both for leading by example in and out of your schools.

    • Joe Mazza says:

      John thanks for writing. YOU are the one who took it upon yourself to make a trek to Knapp Elementary for Parentcamp. You’ve taken control of your learning and that is what makes you successful. Glad to know you.

  6. Lyn Hilt says:

    I’m not really sure what to say about all of this, but I am really honored that you mentioned me in this post. It validates the work I tried to do as a “connected principal” when I was in that role. I am so thankful we connected, and I have learned just as much – but probably more – from the content, ideas, and reflections you’ve shared here and via your other networks. I appreciate you, I’m proud of you, and I’m thankful to be able to call you my friend. Looking forward to the next toddler date – those two boys are going to run circles around us. :)
    I will make it a point to thank others in my network who have supported me along the way, too.
    Go Braves! haha

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *