22 Jul Hoping Together—Our Partnership with School of Hope
Sometimes positive, life-changing, unbelievable things are born out of unbelievable, sad, and tragic things; Fayetteville’s School of Hope is an example of this. School of Hope was co-founded by Amy Sparks and her husband and serves as a nonprofit school for kids and children diagnosed with autism. Students learn from 8:15 am to about 2:30 pm; lessons and activities are intricately planned to meet their specific needs and learning styles. The routine and schedules include settling in to the class room, morning work—focusing on math skills, writing, or socialization. In each lesson, visuals are used often as that is the children’s best learning style. Students also have an English Language Arts block that hones on writing skills, vocabulary, reading comprehension, and how to use context clues—all comfortably at their own level and speed.
Breaks are worked into the schedule, allowing time to walk around and unwind, to prevent overstimulation; along with the traditional lunch break and recess. Other specific social skills are taught: coping skills on how to deal with change, how to take care of oneself, how to make a phone call or text message. And, now, for the first time, 30-minute music classes will also be offered for each class.
The School of Hope is the first school in Fayetteville to school only children diagnosed with autism. The heart, the knowledge, and the drive Amy Sparks and husband had to achieve this effort, came from her own family—her son, Jarred. Jarred was diagnosed with autism at a very young age; and from there Amy, a teacher herself, dove into finding the best care, resources, education for Jarred. The dream and idea of creating a school was always a possibility for her; and when Jarred, unfortunately, died in 2011, it served as a push for Amy into launching her dream.
The doors opened in 2017, with 5 staff workers, including Amy’s husband, and 5 students. Now there are 11 staff workers, including Amy as administrator, and 20 students; The School of Hope is currently a K-6 school, with the goal of adding a school grade each year, hopefully one day having a graduating class. There are 5 students placed in each class, creating a more intimate and concentrated environment.
The relationship Amy has with Bill and the Re-Store Warehouse began before any dreams were born, and completely non work related, Bill was Amy’s younger son’s baseball coach, about 15 years ago. Amy shares even then Bill was very accommodating and understanding about her family’s situation and circumstances with Jarred. When the process for School of Hope started, Bill was there also, this time with Re-Store Warehouse. Amy recalls, “When we started the renovation, we had 57 items that needed to be corrected. We were on time crunches and timelines. My church helped and donated paint, and Bill and the Re-Store Warehouse donated 2 rooms of flooring. And they [Re-Store Warehouse] continue to support our efforts.”
As life comes with pretty hard curveballs, so do caring people who show up to help. “Bill is a remarkable man…we are so appreciative. He has a heart for children and when he believes in something, he believes in it 100%. You never know how many people go in and out of your life in different seasons, and then come back.”
Generally, around the spring time, Re-Store Warehouse also donates a sum of money to be used for the children’s needs. “Fayetteville is a community when things are needed, people pull together and help”, Amy shares. And when people are aware, action can then be taken. “When people see Re-Store Warehouse, and others, help us, then the community sees the prevalence of what we’re doing and see the needs in the children. When Re-Store Warehouse gives to the School of Hope, then other people see, and it’s a rippling affect.”
The School of Hope only wants the very best for its students and their family members; their mission is to provide a holistic, an opportunist, and a positive education. Amy affirms “We want children to have the whole gamut: social, emotional, and providing hope again—to the autistic and every family member affected, we want to be a resource for people.”
Hope is something that has been carried all through the Sparks’ lives. “Years ago, there was an article done on Jarred and the title was centered on ‘A fight to recover, hope for Jarred’. And then when I lied in bed trying to figure out the title for the school, that article came back to me. After Jarred died, I wanted to bring hope again. And that’s all parents want, is hope.”