Helping students become more hopeful can improve their ability to learn, as well as make them more resilient for future challenges. Learn how you can spread hope in your school.

On our first visit to the Kansas high school, a sea of smiling faces greeted us. The assistant principals, secretaries, and students were excited to have the “hope team” at their school. We got a great tour, saw some beautiful student art, and met dozens of teachers who made us feel welcome.

The team was there to work with 120 freshmen who were part of an academy, a school within a school, led by four teachers. Three of those teachers had a “let me know how I can help” attitude. The fourth teacher, Mr. C., let us know that he wasn’t very interested in us being there. How did we figure that out? Well, it was easy. Mr. C. said to my team, “I am not very interested in you being here.” He shared his sentiment with his students, so some of the freshmen were somewhat less cooperative than their buddies in the other three rooms.

During our visit, students completed a survey that included a few open-ended questions that asked students about their big goals for school and life and the obstacles that made school and life harder.

As we drove back to our offices, my team chatted excitedly about our successful launch of the hope program at the school. At some point, someone in the car said, “What’s up with Mr. C.?” Everyone in the car had an opinion. Then, one member of the team, flipping through the surveys, said, “Guys, you know that question about your biggest blocker to school success? About eight out of every 10 students listed Mr. C as their biggest obstacle.”

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