In the spring of 2011, two families, praying separately for their eldest children’s education and future, felt a prompting of the Holy Spirit to step out in faith and obedience to open a school. Below are the individual stories of how God worked, in four short months, to open HOPE Academy.
Two families…One God.
THE ELLIOTT FAMILY
When my husband Paul and I began praying in 2011 about where Beau, our oldest child, would attend kindergarten, we had no idea that God would answer us with HOPE Academy. We were certain God had a plan. We were confident that He was in the intimate details of our life. As one door closed, God opened another; one that was far more deliberate and required acts of obedience, faith and surrender.
It was on a plane ride from a wedding in Ft. Worth, Texas, on March 6, 2011 where I began to journal a scripture that had been shared with me the previous weekend. That same scripture would later become the founding verse of HOPE Academy. God’s plan began to unfold as my pen moved across the pages.
“2 Peter 1:5-8, 10 ‘For this reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure; they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ…Therefore my brothers be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure.’
Is this a mission statement for a school or for me teaching Beau and Clara at home? My eyes are welling at the thought. Oh how God works…He has set my mind in a direction that is answering something. Confirming perhaps a no to public (school) and private (school) and perhaps a YES to two options that will grow me and stretch me in a way I may never have conceived. To invest fully in my children! Could it also be to invest in the lives of children around them?
‘Lord Jesus, God the Father, Holy Spirit, open the eyes of my heart, my mind. Pour into me that which is not of my own human thought or ability that I may bring honor and glory to you and that I may live the purpose for which you have called me. May I go boldly forward in you.’
After a month of praying, visiting area private schools and our local public school, I learned about the University-Model® School. It was clear that God was calling our family to this model. It was also just about at that time that I began feeling rather alone in this venture although many people were praying alongside of us. And in perfect God fashion, He orchestrated a conversation between Heather and I where she said quite profoundly, “This is something I could devote my life to.” We met at a local coffeehouse and we prayed for God’s unity and direction. Together, with our husbands, we stepped out in obedience to pursue God’s vision for a school.
On April 6, 2011, HOPE Academy was born and we opened the doors for the first time on August 27, 2011. Our journals are filled with prayer after prayer, story after story, of how God affirmed the road to developing HOPE. Heather or I would not characterize this journey as an easy one, but certainly one that has required a daily reliance on our Savior. That summer, as we prepared for HOPE’s opening, both Heather and I experienced profound personal loss and heartache. It has been through incredible grief and joy that we have rested in the shadow of His almighty wings, trusting that He who is greater, would equip us through His Holy Spirit. Heather and I joke that we have the least impressive bios on our staff page. I can only assume that reflects His hand in HOPE Academy and not that of our own.
I consider it pure joy that God answered our prayer in such way that we can invest fully in our children, cultivating their God-given gifts, and spurring them on according to God’s great purpose and plan for their lives. Not only has God made a way for us to invest in our own children, but HOPE Academy has enabled us to be a part of a broader community that shares the same vision and desire for their children.
To God be the Glory,
THE HENRY FAMILY
While staying at home to raise our young girls, I often prayed about what God had in store for me during the next season of my life. I remember thinking it would be great to work in a school so that my kids and I would be on the same schedule, however, I knew teaching was not one of my gifts, and didn’t think that my gifts or passions would be relevant to the field of education. Remembering with great fondness my time at a small, nurturing Christian elementary school, I also desired a similar educational experience for our girls.
Fast forward a few years, and it was time for our oldest daughter, Chloe, to go to kindergarten. We researched every educational option available and prayed specifically about the idea of homeschooling. While I loved the concept of spending more time with my children and pouring into them spiritually, I didn’t feel like God had wired me to handle the 24/7 demands of homeschooling. After thoughtful consideration, we felt prompted to send her to our local public school.
During her first few months of kindergarten, I became unsettled about our decision. She was spending almost 40 hours a week away from us under the influence of unfamiliar teachers and she was exhausted every evening. We were disconnected from what she was learning and also had to un-teach some ideas that she picked up from her new friends. To alleviate my concerns, I began volunteering in her classroom once per week.
I left each week increasingly disappointed, and there was a growing desire in my spirit for MORE – more time to spend with her, more spiritual influence in her life, and more academic challenge. As the year progressed, that desire increased, and we began praying as we explored other educational options. I shared my thoughts and experiences with Courtney as we joined a spring Bible study together. When Courtney told me about her calling to open a school, I knew instantly that He was calling me to come alongside of her in that adventure. He had prepared my heart for the moment of that call – first through my seemingly impossible dreams and prayers for our girls and then during our time in public school.
I stepped out in faith alongside of Courtney and watched as God unfolded his plan for a school in four short months. The past few years have been an amazing faith adventure, one that has required daily dependence on Him for wisdom and provision. I marvel at his wild creativity in the design of this model – gifting us the time we craved as a family to pour in spiritually while providing a partnership with gifted teachers to carry out their education.
Ephesians 3: 20-21 says “God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us.”
To God be the Glory,