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HOPE to READ Project: Students Lead the Way

Starting With Unintended Consequences

Megan Finnegan, Hope School Academic Lead

Today’s the day I let go. It’s pretty scary. I’ve always been a teacher who plans every unit, every lesson, and every activity with the end in mind. I ALWAYS know (or at least think I know) what the end product will look like. Not this time.

Last week, I met with the founder and director of our school, Amy O’Dell.   My intention was to present her with an updated version of the idea for our latest Hope School Interactive Academics Project: design and build a library for the students of Hope School. A project lead by none other than the students of Hope School themselves.  This process would require them to dream and share ideas, draw plans, raise money, design user-friendly spaces unique to the students of our school, create and locate flexible seating and furniture, and of course, fill the shelves and spaces with meaningful texts, technology and content.  This is their dream.  This is their HOPE to READ.

Of course, Amy was all over the idea, with the same contagious enthusiasm that we all know well by now.  And then I let the other shoe drop: I have no idea what the steps will be along the way. I don’t know where we are going to get the money to fund such a project. We have two mentors (a local builder/architect and a library/media specialist), and a basic unit outline with learning objectives. Other than that, we are going to wing this and see how it falls into place. All the while, creating a path for the students, but following their lead.

Amy looked me in the eye with certainty and responded, “Let it go, Megan. If you wait until you have all the answers, it will never happen.” Well, darn, she’s right. And here I go, stepping out of my comfort zone and into the abyss of creative space. I’m nervous, but I’m committed to riding this unknown coaster with our Hope School students.

Hey, if NYC Public Schools can do it, so can WE!

Hang on. Buckle your seatbelts.  Check back here for regular updates on our project.  Stay tuned for an official press release dropping September 25. We need YOU, the community, to help make this happen!

A little Ted Talk “inspo” to get this thing off the ground. Hope School students viewed this video today as well.  I hope you like it as much as we did.


3 responses to “HOPE to READ Project: Students Lead the Way”

  1. Go for it, Megan! So excited to follow along with this project!

  2. Michelle Donley says:

    Hey Megan. My friend is a school teacher and over the summer she had come across some comfy reading chairs that she thought would be so great in her classroom. She posted them on FB and asked if anyone would be interested in helping her out. I actually think she was kidding but by the end of the week she had enough bought by others for the entire class. Another teacher friend of mine came up with a great idea. She asked if anyone would be willing to buy one book that was age appropriate for her grade and write an encouraging note in the inside cover. She had more volunteers than she needed. On the first day of school every student had a book on their desk to keep with a special uplifting note. Your idea is awesome. I just thought these were a couple great ideas you could use

  3. Jean Finnegan says:

    Dear Mrs Finnegan and Students, What a wonderful project! I was so impressed by the intensity in your faces as you came together on such an important idea. I appreciate the forward thinking of leaving a big footprint for those who come after you. I will send a small monetary donation and supply some books handed down from Grandpa Finnegan. He was an avid reader and is a happy spirit today! So proud of all the hard work you have done and will do! GO HOPE!!! Grammy Finn

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