HOPEbriefs | Perseverance Produces Hope

Derince is one of the young men I admire most for perseverance.

When he was just seven years old, his father was arrested. Instantly, he became the ‘man’ of the house, wrestling with concerns few adults manage. With no male role models at home, God graciously provided men to mentor and advocate for Derince. They saw he was not receiving the attention he needed in public school.

Derince applied to Hope Academy in 9th grade, but was denied admission. Because Derince’s previous schools failed him academically he worked relentlessly with a tutor for one whole year, and was admitted to Hope as a sophomore. “When I found out I got into Hope Academy, I had this joy in my heart,” explains Derince. “I wanted to jump up and down, but instead I just played it cool. I was so happy I got in.”

In the last year and a half, Derince has become a learner and a leader. He has sought good friends to sharpen him. He respects his football coaches for their athletic and spiritual advice. He is growing and giving. “My belief is that, when I’m going through something difficult, as long as I believe in Christ, I can get through it,” he says.

Praise God for his relentless love for Derince, and for each one of our students. He is rebuilding our city, one heart at a time.

Other students like Derince also need need partners for this school year. Please join us in praying for God’s provision for the youth of our city, and considering how God might use you to administer his grace.

 

With deep joy,

Russ Gregg | Head of School

Doubling Kindergarten: Our Next Step of Faith

It’s an exciting time at Hope Academy! Last week, we opened our doors wide to 435 students (and counting!) – nearly 70 of whom are Kindergarteners this year.

Over the past fifteen years, we’ve seen that “oaks of righteousness” do not grow overnight. Rather, they start by planting tiny acorns, in good soil.

Then, it takes years for this little acorn to grow deeper and wider roots. Roots that will draw refreshment in the harshest droughts; roots that will anchor this tree in the most tumultuous storms.

That is why our hearts are full of joy – and faith – this year as we double our Kindergarten from 2 classes to 4. We are thrilled to widen our admissions funnel and offer a remarkable, God-centered education to more and more families, K-12.

Thank you, for your help in reaching more “acorns” in our quest to grow “oaks of righteousness,” right here in the inner-city.

Pray that God will continue to grow our students into servant leaders who will work for justice, economic opportunity, racial harmony, hope for the family, and joy in the community.

Blessings,

Russ Gregg
Head of School

P.S. – Join us for Partner Day Sept. 24RSVP to Jim Stigman  (612-721-6294 ext 106) or Jamie Olson (952-807-2888).

Combating the Summer Slide

For many children, summer is a nostalgic time filled with sunny excursions, afternoons on the lake, and the relaxed pace of long, lazy days.

But for our urban neighbors, summer also brings a detrimental widening of the achievement gap between lower- and higher-income students. Study after study shows that children backslide significantly in knowledge and skills over the summer months–and that many low-income students fall disproportionately behind their higher-income peers, year after year after year.

Enter Hope Academy’s four week summer session. This summer, our students enjoyed:

  • Individual and/or small group reading time
  • ACT prep courses
  • Math fact fluency training
  • Socratic reading discussions in middle school and high school
  • Fine arts instruction through the Inverted Arts program
  • HOPEWorks internships for high school students
  • Numerous field trips and urban excursions

“Summer school makes a remarkable difference for our students,” said one of our teachers. “My room is stocked with excellent literature, and students come in, grab their book, and read for one whole hour in complete silence every day.”

“My readers are thrilled for an uninterrupted hour to be devoted to reading. The books get them hooked on how enjoyable it is to read for pleasure, and how important it is to always respond to reading with thoughtful connections.”

Thank you for partnering with us to enrich the lives of our students, and to maintain the critical progress they’ve worked so hard to achieve throughout the school year.

A special thanks to the Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation for the grant it awarded to Hope Academy in support of our 2015 summer enrichment program.

With deep joy,

Russ Gregg
Head of School

From Garbage Dumps to Graduation: An Amazing Story of God’s Handiwork

[aesop_parallax img=”http://nateanderson.us/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/KAT_2218.jpg” parallaxbg=”off” caption=”“Ten years ago, I was digging through garbage dumps for food. Today, I’m on my way to
college.”” captionposition=”bottom-left” lightbox=”on” floater=”on” floaterposition=”left” floaterdirection=”down”]

[aesop_image imgwidth=”175px” img=”http://nateanderson.us/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/IMG_1807a.jpg” offset=”20px” align=”left” lightbox=”on” caption=”“Knowing that God has given me this talent has helped me to glorify Him instead of myself.”” captionposition=”left”]
“Ten years ago, I was digging through garbage dumps for food. Today, I’m on my way to college. I stand before you now as a living testimony of God’s amazing handiwork,” shared Ephraim Bird in his Hope Academy graduation address.

Running a 9:26 two-mile and having placed second in state, it would be simple for Ephraim to find his identity in his amazing running ability. Instead, he chooses to find his identity in what God has done in his life. As he puts it, “knowing that God has given me this talent has helped me to glorify Him instead of myself.”

On a deeper level, a remarkable aspect of Ephraim’s story is that his journey of developing a Christ-centered identity didn’t begin on a cross country track in Minnesota — it began in a garbage dump in Ethiopia.

 

 

[aesop_parallax img=”http://nateanderson.us/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/DSC01014.jpg” parallaxbg=”off” caption=”“Whatever we needed to do, we did to survive”” captionposition=”bottom-left” lightbox=”on” floater=”on” floaterposition=”left” floaterdirection=”up”]

 

“Whatever we needed to do, we did to survive,” he explains. As a seven year old orphan and caretaker of his younger brother, it was not uncommon for young Ephraim to go door-to-door seeking scraps, eating out of garbage dumps, and begging for money in order to provide food and necessities. “Sometimes we would steal,” he shares. “Stealing was a big part [of our survival].”

Following the death of the boys’ father and mother within an eight month period, Ephraim and his brother were in a time of turmoil, shuffling between relatives, foster parents, and orphanages in an already poverty-stricken area. During this time, Ephraim describes himself as a “cheater and a liar.” He would often work together with his brother and friends in order to steal or cheat others, even creating their own language so that no one else would understand.

In an area with limited education, Ephraim struggled to learn and was disruptive in class. Although the boys’ orphanage taught the Bible, he says that it had no impact on his life. “The Word was there, but it wasn’t implanted in me yet.”

 

[aesop_image imgwidth=”150px” img=”http://nateanderson.us/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/156-Efrem-Hagos.jpg” align=”left” lightbox=”on” caption=”“Everything was new for me. I didn’t know any English. The culture, the people, everything was totally different.”” captionposition=”left”]

 

While in fifth grade, Ephraim learned that his younger brother would be adopted by a family in Minnesota. Though at first Ephraim was very sad to be separated from his brother, he was soon informed of an unlikely surprise — the family that adopted his younger brother would like to adopt him as well.

After a three-year transition period, Ephraim finally landed in the United States on December 7, 2008, when he officially became part of the Jeff & Widdy Bird family. Completely fresh to American culture, Ephraim struggled to keep up, initially placed in fifth grade at Hope Academy (while his age was equivalent to eighth). “Everything was new for me. I didn’t know any English. The culture, the people, everything was totally different.”

Regardless of the disadvantages that he faced, Ephraim was determined to succeed. With the help of his supportive parents, friends, and family, Ephraim worked hard to improve his skills. That summer, he jumped two grade levels and was promoted to the eighth grade class the next fall.

During the next year at Hope, Ephraim was greatly impacted by the Christ-centered education he received from godly teachers. “God opened my eyes to see spiritual things at Hope,” he describes. “My teachers’ care for me reflected the goodness of God.”

That same year, Ephraim also gave his life to Christ and chose to be baptized. “I had never really accepted Jesus nor had I professed faith in Him before. It was a new walk. I know that my life has a purpose, has a meaning, and it is meant to glorify God in all that I do.”

[aesop_parallax img=”http://nateanderson.us/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/Ephraim-Senior-Photo-1.jpg” parallaxbg=”off” caption=”“Hope Academy has equipped me to be a man of God. Lord-willing, I’ll return to Ethiopia to bring hope and opportunity to the orphans of my homeland.”” captionposition=”bottom-left” lightbox=”on” floater=”on” floaterposition=”left” floaterdirection=”up”]

Ephraim says that teachers at Hope have taught him that men and women of God, like Jesus, are called not to be served, but to serve. He desires to use the talents, skills, and experiences God has blessed him with to make a difference in the lives of children like him. “A big part of my past is how people have poured into my life, and I want to do the same,” he shares. Ephraim would like to return to Ethiopia to bring hope to the orphans in his home country, as well as support local adopting families. His mission, as he proudly exclaims, is even a part of his name. “My name, Ephraim, actually means to be fruitful and multiply… and I take that seriously. Hope Academy has equipped me to be a man of God.”

“Lord-willing, I’ll return to Ethiopia to bring hope and opportunity to the orphans of my homeland. And maybe someday, there will be another little orphan standing here at this podium [on graduation day].”

[aesop_parallax img=”http://nateanderson.us/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/KAT_2212.jpg” parallaxbg=”off” caption=”Ephraim and his father, Jeff” captionposition=”bottom-left” lightbox=”on” floater=”on” floaterposition=”left” floaterdirection=”up”]