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Elementary and Primary Education
Upward Hope Academy opens in its permanent building
by Ruth Ann Ruiz
Saturday, November 18, 2017

Upward Hope AcademyUpward Hope Academy in Galveston celebrated the opening of its permanent building on Tuesday. It’s been a long and curvy ride for founder Kathy Whatley. “This is our 15th location and I’m not moving again,” she proclaimed.

Upward Hope is a tuition-free, private high school for students whose needs are best served in an environment outside of the traditional school setting. Some of the students had given up on ever completing high school until they enrolled at Upward Hope which welcomes students who have aged out of the public school system. The oldest student so far has been 40.  

Ms. Whatley, a retired special education teacher, envisioned a place for students whose needs were not being met in regular high schools. Using her teacher retirement funds, she invested in books and other items for her vision. Shortly after the school first opened, Hurricane Ike struck.  

Though Hurricane Ike wiped out all her investments and flooded the building she was using, her students showed up for classes.  The plight of the fledging school was the subject of a story in the The Galveston County Daily News which prompted Cathleen and Christopher Fredrickson to reach out and offer a building for the school.  

Then began the loving and synergetic relationship of Kathy Whatley’s dream with those who would be willing and able to fund the school for students who as Justice of the Peace, Jim Schweitzer, said, “seemed incorrigible.” Because of Whatley’s success rate, Schweitzer has become a fan and sends students who appear before his court to the school.  

The permanent building located at 3305 Church St was donated by the Middleton family and The Moody Permanent Endowment fund provided all the renovations and furniture needed to open the doors for classes in the fall of 2017. 

A fully accredited high school, Upward Hope Academy has graduated 605 students since its beginning. The school uses traditional classroom learning combined with on line programs. Students who have jobs find they can work and complete their high school education. Young moms and soon to be moms are partnered with Moody Early Childhood Center to provide the best opportunities for success for mom/student and her child. 

Some of the donors for the school include: The Moody Foundation, Kempner Foundation, the Bromberg Foundation, West Isle Presbyterian Church, Congregation B’nai Israel of Galveston, and several other community churches. The school is also funded by the generous donations from many private individuals whose contributions range from volunteer time, to supplies and individual monetary contributions. 

In honor of the opening, ribbon cutting ceremonies were conducted by the Galveston Regional Chamber of Commerce. Fighting back tears, Gina Spagnola, president and CEO of GRCC recalled a student who told her he didn’t have a dream until he came to Upward Hope Academy.



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