People Spotlight Dr. Eric Mason

People Spotlight – Dr. Eric Mason

The Importance of our People Spotlight Series

Hope Academy believes that the Gospel informs the shepherding of the hearts that the Lord has entrusted to our care. We strive to give our students a Biblical understanding of God’s purpose for their life in all areas of our instruction. Our goal is to equip our students to be the type of men and women that Lord calls them to be in Scripture.

Representation matters to everyone, but it carries significant weight to minorities, who are under-represented in the culture today. The value of a black child seeing a person that shares their skin color in a positive light, whether on the screen or in a book, is invaluable. Dreams are then realized. Goals are set. The future looks brighter.

Dr. Eric Mason is the founder and pastor of Epiphany Fellowship in Philadelphia, PA. He has a passion for bringing the joy of the Gospel of Jesus to urban areas by planting churches and training local leaders.

It is difficult to pinpoint one area that Dr. Mason has impacted most. He has invested much in the urban setting in areas such as education, health, behavior sciences, law and criminal justice, etc. One of the subjects closest to his heart is a restoration of manhood in the Black community. This passion has lead him to write a book on the subject titled Manhood Restored: How the Gospel Makes Men Whole. He also holds seminars through Epiphany’s ministry training on the subject of manhood.

He states, “Jesus Christ came to reestablish and reaffirm Biblical manhood that had died and so that’s why men are broken and God hasn’t called us to be childish men. He’s called us to be manly men and therefore in our culture we have to allow the Scriptures to influence that.” In the following video you will hear Dr. Mason express God’s heart for the restoration of men.

He continues, “We need this sense, this urgency that the men around us and our sons need to be discipled and poured into and challenged beyond childhood to adulthood.”

Check out the Hope Difference today!

Great Hoax Blog Post

The Great Hoax: Christianity is a White Man’s Religion

In the United States, February is the month that we celebrate Black History Month. It is extremely important to remember that Black History did not begin with slavery and the observance of the history is not exclusive to only Blacks, but for all of us. The collective contributions to our world by African Americans is something to acknowledge and celebrate together in this diverse nation with troubling roots.

This month, Hope Academy wants to bring Black History to the forefront of our minds by featuring guest writers and small biographies. Our intention is to raise our collective voices in proclaiming God’s goodness to His people through His plan in bringing the Gospel to the nations.

The following is an article by the talented artist Curt Kennedy:

Do you know what the greatest religious hoax towards the black community is? Christianity. But not for the reason you’d expect. In recent years, there has been a rise of black people leaving Christianity, for a number of reasons.

Among those reasons, there is one that consistently rises to the top. Christianity is a white man’s religion. Christianity is a religion designed by white people for white people. The black folks who are leaving, want to worship something that is specifically for black people.

My Story

To be honest, I can understand the resentment coming from black people. I am black myself. I’m as black as they come, at least in the way that black people tend to evaluate each other (Ghetto/Gangster = Black).
I grew up in the Washington, DC metropolitan area with no dad. I was raised by a single mother alongside my older brother by three years. I started getting arrested at age 7. Later, I would start selling crack cocaine and I was really good at it. This led to me eventually getting into a broad day shoot out with a rival gang, which then led to me facing 43 years in prison.

After doing some time, I got “saved,” but it was hard at times.

Believing in Jesus can be tough all on its own, especially when you keep hearing things like, “How could you believe in a God that let your ancestors be slaves?” or the all too familiar, “Black people weren’t Christians before the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

They used Christianity to keep us enslaved. We were kings and queens in Africa before white people came and kidnapped us!”

The African Role in Ancient and Modern Christianity

Now on the surface that may sound right. Yes, black people were enslaved. Yes, the church did relatively nothing about it. Yes, white people were the ones in charge of these atrocities. Yes, they often twisted the Bible to make blacks feel like being slaves was our God-given responsibility.

But is that Christianity? I think not. Is it true that black people are only Christians today because of slavery? I think double not.

This is where knowing real history pays off. The actual truth is that white people, still to this day, got their theology from Africans, not the other way around.

Beginning with the Bible, we see that Africa played a huge part in the early church. Some of the most influential church Father’s were African. Long before Europe ever heard of Jesus, Africans were getting baptized and preaching the gospel. A few things to take note of:

  • Luke 23:26 Simon of Cyrene (North Africa/Lybia)
  • Acts 2:10 Africans from Egypt and Libya were there at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came
  • Acts 8:26-36 An Ethiopian Eunuch believes and is baptized. Ethiopia is Central Eastern Africa
  • Acts 11:19-24 Men from North Africa (Cyrene) were pushing the girl of Jesus Christ

We must always remember that God wanted scripture to show that Africans were believing the Gospel. This was long before Europe was Europe, as well as, about 1600 years before Slavery.

Wait! There’s more!

Men like Tertullian (155-240), often called “the founder of Western Theology” was from Carthage (Tunisia) North Africa. He also invented the term “Trinity”

Origen of Alexandria (185-254) wrote On the First Principles, which systematically laid out principles for Christian Theology, which became foundational for theological writings that came after it.

There are more to choose from, but perhaps most important of all was  Augustine of Hippo (354-430). To this day, his books The City of God, and On Christian Doctrine are revered as one of the important works in redemptive history. His writings have influenced Western Christianity and Western philosophy. He was from Hippo Regius in North Africa.

The Truth of Christianity

So the truth is this:  Without Africa and Africans, there is no Christianity. God used black people to change the world forever. Christianity is not a white man’s religion. It was Black Africans that made it possible to understand some of the deepest truths about Christianity.

So, when I hear people say Christianity is a white man’s religion, I laugh, because without Black Africans, white people wouldn’t believe what they believe about God. That knowledge came from Africans.

I’m proud to be a Christian, if for no other reason than the rich African theological heritage.

 

Ready to learn more about Hope Academy?

 

If I wasn’t at this Jesus school…

One of the greatest opportunities we have at Hope Academy is to teach children that God is love. Let me tell you how that is making a profound difference, on the most practical level.

 

 

“Mrs. Hayden, if I wasn’t at this Jesus school, I’d probably hit that kid!” said one of our Kindergarteners. Something is registering with him; love is working its way into his heart.

“Miss Mann, can we just work out our problems before we celebrate Valentine’s Day?”asked a tender-hearted second grader. Students are learning that love means moving towards others in kindness–especially when you don’t like them.

“I’m very thankful for Mrs. Pearce’s tough love,” one of our graduates reflected. “Some people are soft and just want to please you. She wanted us to understand what was good for us.”

Praise God that love is so much more than a nice sentiment, conflict-avoidance, or sweeping things under the rug. At Hope Academy, “We love because he first loved us,”and that makes all the difference.

With a grateful heart,

 

Russ Gregg
Co-Founder & Head of School

Do Black Lives Matter in Education?

Do Black Lives Matter in Education?

YES – Black Lives Matter in Education. What does that mean to us at Hope Academy?

Imagine only seeing your reflection in a dirty, broken, warped mirror your entire life. You would not have a true picture of your appearance. You may even believe that you have freckles on your face, when in fact, you do not. You may think that your hair had a grey tint to it, only to have others tell you that it is not the case. The world gives us a broken mirror just like that to see ourselves in.

At Hope Academy, we strive to bring the clear, true mirror in front of our students. That true mirror is God’s Word to show them who they really are. From the very beginning of time, God made clear that mankind was made in His very image.

Genesis 1:27 “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” (ESV)

This fact is extremely important for our students to understand, because everything flows from this truth. We believe in teaching our students about God’s glorious design in the creation of humanity, through the doctrine of the Imago Dei, being made in the image of God. We are not shy in reinforcing these truths about who they are, because the world outside will try to deceive them.

We were made by God, in His image, and for His glory. This truth is crucial to how we teach our children in every subject. It is vital for our teachers and staff to believe this truth, so that our students will learn to believe this about themselves. There is no higher praise one can be given, than to be told that the Creator of the universe made them purposefully, uniquely, beautifully – to display Himself. Portraying God’s design can be seen from the outer body, which is why we instill the importance of how we chose to present ourselves to those around us. As well as our inner-self, our character is on display in how we treat others and behave in life.

In our classrooms, we use Scripture to replace that damaged mirror. Using the very Word of God, who made them, we show our students His purpose for them. We reinforce those truths, to our students consistently, through their time at Hope Academy, in every area of study. Our students are taught that in everything they do, that they are to do it as unto the Lord. When they can see themselves rightly, with a confidence in the purpose and design of the Sovereign Creator, they excel.

Black Lives Matter at Hope Academy, because they matter to the God who made them in His image. Due to the competing voices in society today and the battlelines drawn in the church, we stand on God’s Word and teach from what He says. We will proclaim from the rooftops, every street corner, and every mountain top, “Black lives matter to God! Black lives matter to us!”

When Education is a Privilege not a Right

When Education is a Privilege not a Right

Minnesota has a discouraging amount of food deserts, homelessness, and unemployment, but is also sadly close to leading the entire country in all areas of racial disparities. (more sources below) When housing, food, clothing, and mere survival are the daily struggle for a family, deciding on the best education for children -especially for families who are in poverty- can fall off the radar. So when education is wrongly deemed a privilege rather than a basic human right, how do we help?

Hope Academy is well aware of the realities facing some of our students. Through our Family Ministry efforts, Hope Academy provides Family Support Resources to help parents through difficult life challenges  like, job changes, food assistance, housing, etc. These basic needs of our families are very important to us. We want to help families become stable and successful and to one day escape the negative effects of generational poverty. . We believe that showing families that we are concerned about every area of their lives helps to strengthen our partnership and relationship. And while we provide a safe, nurturing and consistent place for children to be successful in school, we want the entire family unit to be victorious. (In fact, our teachers even do home visits each year to get to know families and their students better!) Once the basic needs of life begin to be adequately addressed, , then the focus on schooling can become much more feasible. .

Over the years, if a student continues their education at Hope Academy, those relationships between the school and families only deepens. Additionally, as students get closer to graduation,  the possibility of attending a college or university comes into view. Unfortunately, families that are lower-income may look at the high price tag for college and all the hoops that must be jumped through, and wrongly determine  that college is not an option for them. They often  do not know what a FASFA is or the resources that are available such as grants and scholarships, to help lessen or lift the financial burden of a college education.

But this is where the relationship between families and Hope Academy comes into play again. Through our College and Career Ministry, we guide students through the application process. We walk with families along each step of the way to make the process seem less daunting. Secondary education, such as community college or university can be a possibility to most every student and the lack of understanding for how the procedures work should not keep anyone from trying.

We believe that educating under-resourced and inner-city image-bears is a great privilege. In fact, we count it all joy to serve these wonderful families and help them foster a growing hope in God!

Come check out the Hope Academy difference in education.

 

Interested in Applying?

 

Marked by Hope

Hi, my name is Mandi, and my daughters are in second grade at Hope Academy. I can’t tell you how much relief, stability, and joy this school has brought to our lives.

As a single mom, I work and pray really hard to make our tuition payment each month. And then there’s you–Hope’s supporters.

Your gifts make it possible for my daughters to get a top-quality, Christ-centered education, regardless of where they were born, how much money we have, or the color of our skin.

I want you to know 7 ways your gift changes our lives, and invite you to consider making a tax-deductible, year-end gift to Hope Academy so more children can have this opportunity:

  1. Christ-centered education anchors and guides us.
  2. Teachers make us feel loved and seen.
  3. Hope Academy’s community strengthens families.
  4. You are opening doors for my girls’ futures.
  5. Discipline targets the heart.
  6. Hope’s partnership empowers parents.
  7. Your gifts are turning the tide for low-income families.

If you haven’t made a gift this year, would you consider what you can do to provide children in the inner-city with access to a high-quality, Christ-centered education? Dozens of students still need financial sponsors this school year.

Click here to make a gift, or to see how you can make a difference in families like mine.

With heartfelt gratitude,

Mandi Cardwell

Hope Academy Mom

The Foolishness of God

When God finally moved my heart to start a school for my neighbors, I had no idea what he had in store.

I thought maybe we’d try it for a year or two. Or if God really blessed us, we’d grow from 35 students to 180 urban youth. I got used to hearing, “Russ, you’re an idiot!”

And, in a sense, I was. I moved my family to “Murderapolis.” I quit my job, with a wife and three children to feed. My friend Jeff and I started a school, with no formal education training.

But 18 years and hundreds of faithful helpers later, look what God has done. Our latest Annual Report is a true testament that, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26):

  • 474 urban youth receiving a remarkable, God-centered education (p. 4).
  • $1 million dollars in college scholarships for our 2017 graduates–some the first in their family to graduate from high school (p. 15).
  • Students who face adversity grasping “what true love really looks like” (p. 5).
  • God transforming families, through Hope (p. 9).

During the last 18 years, I’ve grown especially fond of 1 Corinthians 1:25 & 27 which say, “the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom,” and that “God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise.” In a world that says, “God is foolish,” we say the “foolishness” of God is exactly what we need.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned on this journey, it’s that faith may not always make sense–but obedience to God is always worth it. May you be encouraged to follow God’s promptings today.

With joy,

Russ's signature

Russ Gregg
Co-Founder & Head of School

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Online K-12 VS Private School: Which is better?

With the global rise of access to the internet, opportunities for online education have increased. There are many valid reasons why a virtual school may be of value to some families, such as struggles with bullying, family schedules that are not conducive to traditional school, or limited access to desired programs. In Minnesota there are free online school options available to residents.

Virtual schooling may provide some form of flexibility that families find valuable, but there can be an unforeseen drawback to the lack of personal contact and face-to-face interactions. The lack of personal interaction with staff and teachers who care about the outcome of the student’s education and faith, as well as the success of the entire family unit is an important piece of education that is missing.

At Hope Academy, we believe that the forming of a child’s character is a large part of the educational process. Our goal is to teach the whole child, which necessarily includes maturing in godly character, and that cannot be ascertained through the results of a test. Godly character cannot be fully learned through videos or textbooks; it must be modeled.

Rick Weissbourd, author of the book, “The Vulnerable Child” and a lecturer at Harvard Graduate School of Education explains teacher and student relationships this way, “In these relationships, moral qualities are shaped. Adults do not simply transmit moral qualities and beliefs to children. These qualities and beliefs emerge and continually evolve in the wide array of relationships that every child has with both adults and peers starting nearly at birth, and in children’s felt knowledge of what is harmful, true, or right. In these relationships, children continually sort out, for example, what they owe others, what they should stand for, what traditions are worth keeping, whether to follow rules, how to contribute to their family, classroom, and community—in other words, how to be a decent human being.’”

Children learn how to live by watching those around them. Hope believes that through our shepherding-learning model, our students will be positively influenced to live a life in accordance with the Gospel of Christ.

What is lacking in an online K-12 education is the mentorship, relationship, and discipleship. At Hope Academy, we believe that this piece is crucial to the success of our students and their families. Our partnership with parents and seeing our students face-to-face, allows us to shepherd their lives in a way that is as unique as the students we teach.

Just as Jesus walked with his disciples, all the while teaching them – we desire to do the same with our students and their families. To see the educational difference that Hope Academy provides, come to our open house, schedule an admission tour or a shadow visit. We’d love to meet you!

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Closing the Achievement Gap

Rising Above Education Standards

Driving down the streets of inner city Minneapolis, one can glimpse a multitude of ethnic groups. The same diversity that makes our city beautiful presents us with challenges that naturally occur when cultures cohabitate. With such a concentration of minorities, Hope Academy desires to do our best to help close the achievement gap, that affects many of our neighbors.

According to Wikipedia, “The achievement gap in the United States refers to the observed, persistent disparity in measures of educational performance among subgroups of U.S. students, especially groups defined by socioeconomic status (SES), race/ethnicity and gender.”

What that means is that specifically minority children are behind their peers in reading, math, and other subjects. Hope Academy believes Academically Disenfranchised, Culturally Diverse, and Economically Disadvantaged children matter, and therefore they deserve an education worthy of image bearers.

What tactics do we use help our students?

Hope classrooms are marked by discipline, high expectations, an extended school year, and standardized testing that informs the way we teach our students.

We keep our class sizes small, averaging only 20 students per classroom. We feel that strong teacher-student-parent relationships are vital to the successful outcome we are striving for.

Beginning in seventh grade at Hope Academy, students have their math and language courses in combined-gender classrooms — but almost all of our other core courses at Hope Academy happen in single-gender classrooms. We believe this helps reinforce serious study.

We provide a rigorous classical curriculum, including Latin, Music, Art, and P.E., as well as a mandatory four-week summer school program for our elementary and middle school grades.

Hope Academy also provides an Academic Support Center that is designed to help ensure that not a single student falls through the cracks.

Raising Standards of Expectations

At Hope Academy, we believe that our students can and will achieve what is required of them – which is why we place high standards on academic achievement, knowing that our students can reach the goals placed before them. Over 90% of Hope Academy High School students are at grade level in Math & Reading!

Our goal is that all graduates of Hope Academy would be prepared for college-level work. Students are required to take four years each of our six core courses: Humane Letters, Writing/Rhetoric/Speech/Drama, Bible, Science, Math, and Foreign Language. Additional academic courses contribute to the development of a solid classical liberal arts education, with offerings in physical fitness, health, music, art, and others.

Why Do We Care?

Hope Academy cares deeply about the success of the students and their families. Our efforts to close the achievement gap spring from our belief that every human being is created in the image of God is absolutely stunning in its majesty and grandeur, and its implications are weighty, almost beyond comprehension. We believe that no child should be warehoused, rather, our job is to do the really hard work of cultivating virtue and Christ-like character by shepherding students’ hearts.

We desire for our students to know the One of whom it is said, in Psalm 111:10, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all those who practice it have a good understanding. His praise endures forever!”

We desire that our students to be successful in ALL areas of their lives, especially the life to come!

To learn more about why we take education so seriously, we encourage you to read the text of Imago Dei Education: Bearing the Burden of My Neighbor’s Glory, a talk delivered recently by Russ Gregg, our Head of School.

To learn more about enrolling your child at Hope Academy, visit us.

To partner with us in closing the achievement gap, see our Growing Hope Campaign page.

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Family Ministry Resources

One of our biggest goals at Hope Academy, is to witness our students and their entire family living successful and faithful lives.

We understand that many of our families depend upon government programs to help make ends meet. We desire to help families thrive in the life skills necessary to no longer need programs, such as food stamps, Medicaid, and other government assistance.

See the infographic below to learn more about how we support our families. You can also learn more about our family support here.

Contact us today to learn more about becoming one of our families.

family resources infographic