It was a damnably cold January day in 1986 when the teachers in the Clarion Limestone School District ( known affectionately as C-L- cattle and livestock) went on strike. Carol had been teaching ½ time at the elementary school for 3 years. She was the teacher of gifted, as she was back in Berks County. However, this time, she worked for the school district and not the I.U. I believe that the temperature was somewhere about 10 degrees below zero. The schools were way of the beaten path and had no relationship with any through streets or pedestrian walkways. In other words, there were no other human beings to see the teachers march with their picket signs.
Although Carol worked ½ time, she marched full time. Many of the teachers said that since things were going so poorly with negotiations and with their lot as teachers in the district, they would probably quit at the end of the year and not return to the district. Only one person out of the entire staff actually did it, Carol Hillman. Carol had been thinking about starting her own consulting firm for a long time. She had even gone to Pittsburgh to a seminar that talked about women starting their own businesses. The presenter was someone who really knew how to stimulate interest in starting a business. He told Carol that if her husband had a good job, she could do her work as a volunteer. You don’t ever want to say anything like that to Carol.
She was soon off looking for some money for one of her pet projects. She saw that the kids in her school district did not have any vision of what they could do. Many of the gifted kids saw themselves as truck drivers or cosmetologists, not as doctors, lawyers, astronauts, engineers, etc. That was so disappointing to her that she vowed to try and correct some of it. She contacted the Heinz Foundation and asked them if they were interested in a project that she had in mind. Heinz was pretty much a Pittsburgh and Allegheny County Foundation and had never given out a grant to any rural area ( as far as they knew). In the end, Carol was given a $25,000 stipend to begin a program for two school districts in Clarion County.
Her consulting and advocacy firm ( she does stuff for nothing) has been her passion for 24 years. She has worked with a myriad of rural school boards, law practices, dental practices, private companies, state organizations and in the year 2000, we got a call from two billionaires within a one week span. That is a story for another time. Her work with children over the past 45 years has no bounds. This week we had four kids from rural areas staying at our house so that we could take them to colleges for visits. Their parents were not able to do it because of costs and jobs. That is the essence of Bright Futures



  1. I remember the struggle Carol had as she was considering taking “the leap.”…Bot…oh, what she has accomplished & given to the students of rural Pennsylvania…You BOTH are my role models!

  2. I still enjoy mom’s “professional” voice when she answers the phone, ” Bright Futures Unlimited, Carol Hillman, how can I help you?”

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