By: Andrea Woolley
I over hear the teaching and the conversations most days from my office. I see the boys after their classes, at lunch, and during their breaks. They seem different this year –lighter (not as weighed down by the stress), happier, more content, but most importantly HOPEFUL. The Hope Academy, run by Annette Ellard and Steve Clark, with a few volunteers, Andy Bates, Mary Neal Clark, Carolyn Posey, and Jessica Johnson, has been in session for 2 weeks now.
Eight older high school boys ranging in age from 16 to 20 come to the church every morning, Monday - Friday at 8:30 to begin their school day. Their curriculum is designed to give them a high school diploma. The emphasis of the curriculum is English development. Through all the subjects taught (English, Reading, Math, Science and History) grammar, vocabulary building, and language structure are focused on. These boys have a desire to learn and get an education that is rare amongst the typical high school boy.
Admittedly, these boys look rough with their long hair, tattooed bodies, and clothing style. If I did not know them, and I met them as a group on the street, I would avoid them. But their roughness is only skin deep. Underneath the exterior are very sweet young men. These young men have been “patiently failing” for the last 3-4 years in school. Some of these boys arrived in the US with no more than a 2nd grade education and were thrown into high school where they were supposed to succeed at learning a new language, new customs, school systems, along with the regular high school material. Some of these boys had lost hope. They had lost hope in the idea that they could graduate, get a better job, support a family one day, or even learn English.
The Hope Academy is giving these boys an education, yes. But it is doing so much more. These boys have hope. They no longer leave school at the end of the day defeated. They know it will be hard work, but they have their hope back and know it is possible. At lunch today, I asked one of the boys how the new school was. He replied, “Great! I understand everything! Teachers explain. At the other school, no one explain. I learn here.”
Please pray for the continuing ministry of the Hope Academy, for Annette and Steve, the volunteers and the students.