The Hope Project
This year, I designed the Hope Project for my seniors. It ends with a video essay, and I completed the assignment myself. In the video, I included clips and images that correspond to my recorded reading of the text. Here is the text of the essay:
When I first decided to call this the Hope Project earlier this year, I had no idea that so much bad stuff would go down. I thought the pandemic and uprisings would force people to reexamine things like healthcare, criminal justice, childcare, education, the work-life balance and mental health, and foreign policy. Instead, COVID continued to spread, crime rates went up, income and wealth inequality increased, Russia invaded Ukraine, politicians silenced teachers and banned literature, and then just this week, Buffalo and Uvalde happened.
But alas, I’m a teacher and I’m surrounded by enthusiastic young adults who have learned to think for themselves, who want a better world, who know that in one of the richest countries in the world, we can achieve anything and live in whatever kind of place we want. It doesn’t have to be this way. We just have to put our minds together and imagine. The essence of real hope is not just a feeling. Faith is more than just a frame of mind, it is a moral responsibility and commitment to the pursuit of prosperity for all.
When I read the news, I feel like our country has lost its way. But when I am in my classroom, I feel something different. I feel a new generation that wants to redefine what this country is all about. A new generation that has compassion, that wants to prevent conflict and violence with education and simple economic solutions, not with guns.
If I’ve learned anything from the pandemic, it’s to always value the power of small, intimate, everyday interactions. When I look at my own children, I see beautiful innocence, tiny beings filled with love and happiness. I hope they will grow up to be not innocent and passive, but determined, fierce, and bold, and filled with creative solutions to our growing list of problems. I hope that they will be kind to everyone, including the people in the news of the day, that sometimes seem distant and faraway.
I know this school year has been hard on everyone. You spent most of your time in high school dealing with a pandemic, sometimes away from classrooms and friendships. You made sacrifices for the greater good, even if it felt unnecessary or excessive. You got the job done. And now, just like Saeed, Nadia, Lily, and Sethe, you’ll walk through a new door, a new chapter, and make an unknown, unfamiliar space your own. You’ll tidy it up, organize it, and try to make it feel like a new home.
English language arts teacher
Teacher's Workshop, professional development for secondary ELA teachers