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The Science and Power of Hope

One of the critical responsibilities of a school chaplain is to bring hope. The power of hope is grounded in science, with over 2,000 published studies showing that hope is the single best predictor of children’s and adults’ well-being.

Hope is not wishful thinking; instead, hope is about taking action to pursue your goals. Hope believes that the future will be better than today and that I can make it happen. Hope is not a feeling but a way of thinking about the future and your role in achieving your goals. Hope is the ability to set goals, identify the pathways to achieve those goals, and the capability to dedicate mental energy (agency) to those pathways.

The simplicity of hope is that it is about setting goals and finding the pathways and motivation to pursue those goals. Goals, Pathways, and Agency. The science of hope shows that a child’s hope scores predict better grades, attendance, and graduation rates. In addition, classrooms with higher hope of children perform better.


Impact of Hope on Education Outcomes

Hope is linked to positive outcomes and essential assets:

Chaplain hugging child

Increased well-being and self-regulation

Education: Comparing Lower Hope to Higher Hope Students

  • Lower Suspension/Expulsion
  • Lower Dropout
  • Lower Chronic Absenteeism
  • Higher Grades
  • Higher Graduation Rates

Increased engagement in the classroom

Children with higher hope are better at self-regulating their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. As a result, they are better at setting goals, finding pathways, problem-solving, and sustaining the willpower to pursue their dreams even when faced with barriers and adversity. As a result, hopeful children have better academic engagement and overall well-being. As a bonus, the science of hope shows that teachers with higher hope are better at finding strategies to reduce burnout and stress so that they may thrive.

School Chaplains bring hope.

Schools and classrooms have children with trauma. The awareness of the impact of this trauma on the learning environment is increasing, and teachers, counselors, and administrators are asking for strategies to work with trauma-exposed children. Hope has proven the answer through more than a decade of scientific research. Children need hope, perhaps now more than ever before. It is well-established that hopeful children do better. Chaplains are part of that solution.