Since the start of our new school year, Westside teachers and other staff members have been actively building hope among our students. Building Hope is our theme for the 2013-14 school year. At our opening meeting for employees, Gallup senior scientist Dr. Shane Lopez, explained his research on the impact of hope. He told our staff members that hopeful students perform better in school. They are more engaged in their education and are more resilient than less hopeful students.
As educators, we play a pivotal role in creating hopeful environments and helping our students learn how to overcome obstacles. We can help students believe in a bright future. Last year, Westside Community Schools asked students in grades 5-12 to complete Gallup’s Student Poll that measures engagement, hope and wellbeing. We are now working with Gallup to better understand this research.
Last month, during a professional development afternoon, we also engaged all of our employees in a “Nexting While Walking” event. The idea was inspired by a conversation between Dr. Lopez and his son http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/making-hope-happen/201308/nexting-while-walking. We asked staff members to take an hour, go for a walk, and talk with their colleagues about the future, for themselves, for their students, and for our District. Some of the thinking from the day was captured on a Twitter hashtag we created for the event, #Westside66Hope. I encourage you to visit this feed and review the staff inspirations from this event.
We know that students will not succeed solely by practicing hope. We understand that we must combine hope, wellbeing and engagement with a rigorous curriculum, well-educated teachers, and a supportive academic environment. Through this multi-layered approach, we can create multiple pathways so students may experience a glimpse of a possible future and a bright tomorrow. We must do this for all of our students – those who are currently hopeful, and those who we must nurture a bit to build their hope. I am confident we can help every student find success in Westside Community Schools and I have so much hope for the future of this great District.