Deborah Cohen, Ph.D., Oakwood School Counselor
Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all the darkness. --- Desmond Tutu
This month at Oakwood School, we are reflecting on the idea of hope. Hope is the belief that things can get better in the future, that there are good things ahead, and that something you want to happen will or can happen. Hope is what enables us to get out of bed in the morning and to put one foot in front of the other. Hope is what helps us to surmount obstacles and get through difficult times because we are propelled by the belief that there could be something better on the other side. In the face of challenges, hope can give rise to motivation, inspiration, determination, grit, persistence, and resilience, all qualities that move us ahead in our lives.
Sadly, many students and families come to Oakwood because they have lost hope. There are many stories of students who, before coming to Oakwood, found themselves discouraged and defeated due to their struggle to learn at the same pace as their peers. Typically, these students have been working hard in school for years with little positive result, giving them and their parents the idea that nothing will work or things will never get better. In short, many students and families come to Oakwood feeling hopelessness and despair.
When people experience challenges and their best efforts seem fruitless, they will want to give up. They may think there is no path out of their circumstances and no point in continuing to try. This can lead to sadness and hopelessness. Unfortunately, this is a common story of families before they get to Oakwood. It can be difficult to dig out of that dark emotional place. At these times, it is helpful and sometimes necessary for others to be the “holders of hope” by being hopeful themselves and showing a way out of the difficult situation.
Happily, Oakwood teachers and staff fill the role of “holders of hope” every day. First, they offer all families their deep conviction that children WILL read, learn, grow and change. Second, Oakwood teachers show students “the way out” every day with strategies for everything – strategies for decoding, comprehending, counting, calculating, studying and more! Name a skill and we have a strategy to help a student master it. Teachers also provide daily encouragement, support, and growth mindset language to further stoke students’ belief that things will get better, imbuing them with hope and fueling their way forward.
Hope is powerful and necessary when dealing with life’s challenges. Oakwood School feels blessed to be the holders and givers of hope to students with learning differences and their families!