The saying goes “Hope Springs Eternal”…… and today I was reminded that this is more than a truism – it is more than a state of mind – it is an operating philosophy that is alive and operational in Central Florida at the Davenport school in Polk County Florida. On a forgotten campus with previously forgotten students, the impossible has become normalized and high school dropout after high school dropout is getting their high school education in a non-traditional setting where they have actively chosen to follow a non-conventional route to the biggest moment of their life – getting a HS diploma. It is a striking example of how we cannot extinguish the human spirit that burns brightly in every one of us. That everyone is capable of doing more and that in the right setting remarkable things are possible.
We hear in business that Hope is not a strategy. I agree, and I would similarly argue that hope is not meant to be the guidepost for performance. What hope is revolves around a groundswell of emotion, and when pointed at a goal, causes someone to act even when the odds of success appear to be against them. Hope is a very strong emotion that can propel change, which can turn a tough moment into a win and can move us forward when least expected.
And, so, what is it that gives us hope? Well, in this context, hope came alive when success in the Fresh Start program was broadcast across the community in such a way that it was hard for the teens to stop thinking about what was possible if they could get involved. They saw it work with their friends and family and wanted it – it felt within reach and this is when hope became a practical reality. I am not exactly sure how you can explain why these students love HS now, or understand why, this time, they found the right path forward and a road map to success. It sort of doesn’t matter why – what matters is that it did and it is making a difference in their lives. Taking control of their own destiny, hope has become the life-line to the next chapter in their lives – a job or college – and there is no way you cannot feel moved that this is what hope did for them.
Today I found a true reason for hope, at a place where seemingly “regular” people have become heroes.
Loving life and hoping for more hope
beautiful illustration by Nidhi Chanani