Oh the Places You’ll Go at Marian Hope…

Merry Christmas Appreciation Poem written with love by MH CEO…

Inspired by Dr. Seuss

Oh the places you’ll go and the things that you’ll do,
at Marian Hope where life is made new.

Let’s start with our development team if you will,
As they try to raise money so we can pay each bill.
God gives us our daily bread so we can sustain,
And he assigned Kira and Crystal so Marian Hope can remain.
They work and they work with little guided direction,
But needless to say, they do their jobs with perfection.
They love the cause and hold it dear to their hearts,
And we all pray that they will never want to depart.

Moving on to the ones who keep us afloat,
By watching our budget and taking diligent notes.
They write our policies and keep us legally intact,
Rarely do they stop for even a snack.
Without their brilliant minds and attention to detail,
Our organization would certainly derail.
We would not survive without their keen eye,
Sue, Cara and Cinda truly keep us alive.

Our board of directors always has our back,
They guide and assess to make sure we’re on track.
They dedicate their time without any condition,
Because of their love for the children and our mission.

And to all of our donors who fund our mission,
We wouldn’t exist without your position.
Your generosity and love to the children we see,
Gives them the resources so their best they will be.
It is community working together that allows us to grow,
Lives more blessed is what you sow.

The Mayor (as I call her) will brighten your day,
And you all know her as our sweet JJ.
She keeps us all “in the know”,
And for anyone—oh the places she’ll go.
Special is what she makes everyone feel, and she will be the first to bring you a meal.

Now the places you’ll go if you are our COO,
Are beyond all measure because she’ll never say no.
From toilet bowl plunging to taking out trash,
Whatever you need, Heather will be there in a dash.
On yellow sticky notes all around,
A great deal of her to-do’s will be found.
From counselor, to therapist, to para, to friend—each will be her role,
For our COO has the kindest, gentlest, most humble soul.

Now being a therapist will change your life,
But let’s admit it, some days may bring strife.
The things that you’ll say and the actions you’ll do,
To get a child to speak when he is just two.
“What do I do” will flounder around in your mind,
Until a great solution you will suddenly find.
It may be acting like a clown or growling like a bear,
But no matter who is watching, you do not really care.
You’ll do whatever it takes to help a child out,
Because you believe she CAN and you never doubt.
You work hard to serve some pretty tough kids,
But when the day is done you should be proud of what you did.
You may have been puked on, spit on and possibly hit,
And there is a good chance you will even get bit.
But you know the scars of hard work are worth the smiles you get,
And when a child finds his voice, it is the best feeling yet.

When we started a school, great teachers were a must,
For the education of children should be in hands we can trust.
To teach a child is more than teaching to tests,
It’s helping them in all areas to be their personal best.
It is understanding how each child learns,
And strengthening their strengths, not just their concerns.
It’s teaching them truth in who God made them to be,
And helping them appreciate their own special identity.

The pay is not great, let’s face it, it stinks,
But our life is a vapor and goes by in a blink.
What we do for a child is more valuable than gold,
The payment comes from above and in things we can’t hold.
The joy in the eyes of the families we serve,
Are worth the sacrifices and the hope they deserve.

For every child on earth is worth our attention,
For in God’s book of life, their names are all mentioned.
Thank you all for being a shining light for the world to see,
I hope you all know how truly I love and appreciate thee.
Merry Christmas my sweet friends at Marian Hope!


With Love – Angie Knight,
Your friend and your sister in Christ!

I found a treasure!

When I think of Marian Hope Academy, I think of a treasure box.  For the past five months I have had the privilege of being on staff as a Paraprofessional and a sub for different classes.  I knew Marian Hope was a treasure from the first time I heard about it and have been discovering its true, hidden treasure found inside every day since I started here at this unique school.

One thing I have discovered is the class conversations that create an atmosphere of learning and critical thinking by engaging.  I was sitting in as a sub for an upper grade class and was amazed at the way these students were learning. They had a worksheet with a list of words but instead of just staring at them and reading them they were discussing them together.  They made jokes, shared observations, and made up stories all around learning this list of words! Who knew school could be so interactive! The conversation was completely student led. What was happening in that hour class was way more than just memorizing a list of words.  These individuals were critically thinking, they were teaching one another, and they were learning relational and communication skills. I truly thought, if only I could do school again. Of all the homeschool, public school, college education I have had I would have chosen to learn the way these students were learning and would have learned far more.

I am also amazed at the different teaching methods.  At first I was a bit unsure of these methods because of how different it was from other schools.  The last few months have shown that these methods work! There are fewer worksheets and way more interaction using things like building blocks and objects that the student can observe and experiment with.  This makes creativity thrive and encourages the student to learn and come up with conclusions.

From Kindergarten to High School the students and staff amaze me.  I think this is a school where the teachers let the students teach them how to teach.  In other words, if a student is not getting a certain concept or struggling in a certain subject the teacher changes the teaching method or approach.  The kids are seen as unique with each one having different learning styles.

Here at Marian Hope, the students are learning so much more than just academics.  They are learning to problem solve, to communicate their thoughts, to know how they learn, to accept their fellow peers, and to critically think amongst other things.  

I so enjoy Marian Hope.  I am discovering more about how to learn and teach from these students and staff.  This is just a peek into some of the inside treasures that I have found here at Marian Hope and am confident that I will continue to find more.

~Anna Kirtly, Paraprofessional at Marian Hope Academy

Inclusion Might Just Change the World

Children don’t come with manuals.  Parents read books and listen to podcasts and follow blogs and try to keep their head above the child-rearing water.  And all the while the little people are absorbing the world around them which can be absolutely frightening but can also be so incredibly beautiful.  

My son has been a peer model in a couple preschool classes at Marian Hope the last couple years.  Over these two years he has learned alongside a child who was non-verbal, a child who wore cochlear implants, a child in a wheelchair, a child who wore glasses and meanwhile he was the child that always came to school in pajamas.   

And although he attends class far less than my other kids did at his age, he is academically right on the mark and in some ways, he’s above the mark.  The biggest surprise though has been his expression or lack of expression regarding the diversity of learners in his class.  He is essentially un-phased by the differences.  To him, his classmates are his friends.  They are the kids he wants to invite to his birthday party.

This, I thought, was pretty normal since a child’s friend / birthday list is typically limited to the circle of children they come in most contact with and maybe their siblings…maybe.  But just recently I saw how inclusion works in the real world.

A few weeks ago, I took my son grocery shopping with me.  As we were waiting at the deli counter, a little girl in a wheelchair came toward us with her mom and dad.  My son looked at her and said very matter-of-factly… “Wheelchair. Cool.”  The beauty that is inclusion smacked me right in the be still my heart.  I’m not sure she heard him but I hope she did because I know the other more common comments spoken – “what’s wrong with her?” “why does she have that chair?” “what happened to her?”

No one told my youngest son that different is cool.  He’s living it.

Witnessing this assures me that children are indeed sponges.  As parents we make decisions and I believe how we frame their world matters.  The experience of inclusion has created a life defining foundation for my son.   So whether or not inclusion changes the world, I can’t say.  But I know this for sure… its changing his world.

What are special needs?

What are special needs anyway?

Here is how I see it: all children are special and all children have needs so basically all children have special needs. We are a society of labels…what is yours? ADD, ADHD, OCD, ASD, PDD, and the list goes on and on and on! What if some of these charming “man-made” labels were focused on the strength of the child (or adult) verses their weakness?  What if instead of ADHD/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, they called it CMMA/Creative Multi-Thinking Movement Ability?  How cool would it be for children to see themselves as creative thinkers who learn through movement verses seeing themselves as not being able to sit and focus for a solid 45-50 minutes in a chair requiring teacher-guided thinking?

The term “special needs” encompasses a whole array of children – children with dyslexia or other learning disabilities; children anywhere along the Autism Spectrum; children with severe multiple disabilities; gifted children with extremely high IQ’s; developmental delays secondary to health conditions; Apraxia and other speech deficits; dysgraphia and other fine motor deficits; visual processing deficits triggering an array of reading, writing and coordination issues; anxiety-driven learning challenges; genetic abnormalities encompassing a whole array of syndromes… The list is endless.

Where does your child land and does it matter?



Of course, it matters in some regard, but what matters most is we are all human beings created uniquely by one amazing creator with value and purpose! It disturbs me when a child identifies him/herself by a diagnosis. Each of us is blessed with strengths and challenged with weaknesses, but where is our focus? I am pretty confident that God focuses on the beauty of the person He created. It is my hope that each child, each person views him/herself through God’s eyes rather than the eyes of man.


– Angie Knight
Founder of Marian Hope

Gifts of the Heart

Every child is often asked “what do you do?”…what sports do you play?, what instruments do you play?, what is your “thing”? I know of several PRECIOUS children that don’t really have a “thing”. BUT, they are tender, meek, gentle, kind, humble and truly understand “love”. It is so important that we point out a child’s spiritual gifts and allow them opportunities to use those gifts of character to glorify God….as it is these gifts above all others that will truly change the world.

Meet Pierson…

Pierson and ClaireWhen MHA students were introduced to our change drive for our New Day charity event, one of our sweet students quickly emptied his pockets to give to the children at New Day. He gave humbly and without second thought; true, genuine giving. Pierson is filled with spiritual gifts. He has a heart full of love and compassion for others…and he is acting on it (love as a verb). He is a bright young child who intuitively feels for those with special needs. We have a little boy at MHA with Autism and limited language to express his feelings. One stormy afternoon, Pierson sat close to this little boy at lunch as he knew the storm made him feel anxious. He now has created his own website and is making lap blankets for children with sensory and proprioceptive needs. He has already donated several to Marian Hope Center. You can visit his website or follow him on Twitter @PierScience.

Pierson is a blessing to MHA and how he chooses to use his God-given gifts inspires others. He has a beautiful soul!

What is Marian Hope Academy?

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Last year, Marian Hope added a small Christian School to our programs in order to truly fulfill our mission of inclusion. The Marian Hope Academy Christian School for Creative Learning (MHA) is unique and is different from the traditional model of education. The schodownload (34)ol is for children of all abilities and skills. MHA desires to immerse students in their strengths and build their confidence in the person God created them to be.

We want students to be intrinsically motivated to learn as this produces a LOVE for learning and sparks curiosity beyond imagination.

Curiosity leads to deep thinking.

We use multi-sensory teaching strategies to foster each student’s learning style.

Our standards and expectations are high and we do not set limits on a child’s potential.

Our focus is on the whole child….social, emotional, spiritual, health and academic development in a Christ-Centered environment.

download (3) Angie Knight, MA, CCC-SLP
Founder of Marian Hope

You can follow the events and progress at MHA by liking the Facebook page and continuing to read our blog.

What is Classical Education?

IMG_4503   According to The Well-Trained Mind: A Classical Education at Home by Susan Wise Bauer and Jesse Wise , it is language-intensive, not image focused. It demands that students use and understand words, NOT video images. It is history-intensive, providing students with a comprehensive view of human endeavor from the beginning until now. It trains the mind to analyze and draw conclusions. It demands self-discipline. It produces literate, curious, intelligent students who have a wide range of interests and the ability to follow up on them. To read, write, calculate, think and understand. FYI: regurgitate was nowhere in that list.   ~ Maribeth Samenus-Chambers Teacher, Marian Hope Academy

2013 Reflections

Transitions, additions and a wealth of blessings adorned the 2013 agenda for Marian Hope Center.

The year began with the decision to dissolve my for-profit company (Outreach Therapies & Consulting, Inc.) and transfer all staff and assets to Marian Hope Center for Children’s Therapy. I had felt called to this for several years, but the personal sacrifices I would have to take outweighed God’s call (shame on me). However, when I finally put my faith and love for the Lord ahead of my fear, He blessed my obedience. We went from a stable organization that seemed to have plateaued to one that was experiencing the opening of floodgates with new families sprouting up from all walks of life, enhanced donor support and community recognition.  And while the heart of Marian Hope has always been faith-based, we have now declared in our by-laws that Marian Hope is a faith-based organization.  Our growing organization is actively changing the lives of many children and families… for God’s glory, not our own.

We officially established a Nutritional Program with the hiring of an amazing dietician, Blakely Page. She understands the “whole” child approach and how important God-grown nourishment is for the developing brain. She provides education/training, consultative visits, diet planning for families and community organizations. We partner with YES! Youth Fitness, Nature’s Pantry, John Hicks, M.D., and New Life Chiropractic. Our collective organizations hope to bring more nutrition conferences to our community in 2014.

Soon after the dissolution of Outreach Therapies, I asked the board to approve the opening of a Christian school. Following much deliberation and deciding basically on faith alone, the board approved the Marian Hope Academy (MHA), Christian School for Creative Learning as an arm under Marian Hope.  This God-directed journey to the establishment of MHA was probably one of the most spiritually transforming journeys of my life. When God set upon my heart to start a school, I knew I would struggle with convincing our MHC board of directors (especially when I told them I wanted to start this school within six months, fall 2013). I didn’t have answers to reasonable questions like: Location? Students? Funding? Teachers?

My answer: we started MHC on a $0 budget with a small handful of parents who had faith in the skills of our therapists (Outreach Therapies at that time). We didn’t have answers then except: our community needs more, our families need more, our children need more. How we were going to survive then, we did not know. God did, though, and he grew our organization from 1 small therapy class with 3 to 4 students in my basement to over 20 classes and 400 children being served within all of our programs. So, my answer now as to why start a school: our community needs more, our families need more, our children need more….but most, importantly, God is calling us to do this. Basically, same song, different verse.

Within two weeks after the board approved Marian Hope Academy, God began His work:

  • Oakwood Baptist Church opened an entire wing of their building at no charge for us to house the school.
  • A family gave us $26,000 to go toward materials.
  • Several thousand dollars of curriculum was donated to us.
  • God pieced together a brilliant staff of creative and knowledgeable educators.
  • No advertising for students was needed; we had to cut off at 22 enrolled students as our goal was to stay small the first year.

Angie & JordanneIf God would have revealed all those answers before our board deliberation meeting, the board would have approved based on facts and not faith. That is how God stretches us! He wants us to put our source of confidence in HIM, not in man, not in riches, not in facts, but in HIM alone.

Marian Hope Academy just closed the books on our first semester. Did all go perfectly?? Of course, not. However, with each trial came many of God’s great blessings. This academy is an integrated school for children of all abilities. Some students are above grade level in some areas; some learn differently and require adapted curriculum. We keep our teacher/student ratio low so we can implement a personalized education for each child.

Our philosophy: every child is a gift from God and gifted through God. Every child deserves the chance of a rich education full of learning experiences and opportunities to be original and creative. We desire to nurture the strengths of each child and build up competent, confident children who put their boast in our heavenly Father who created them. We want them to know that if they allow God to lead them in all they do, their efforts will not be defeated. We want every child to know, despite any challenges they have, that they have great purpose and value to our community and to our world. It is my hope to raise a generation of children (not segregated by age, ability or differences) who know how to unite with others and bridge Christ-like communities together in order to bring God’s kingdom to our earth.

May each child we serve be a reflection of Christ in all that say and do…and may they pass the torch.


We are now known as Marian Hope with 4 arms of blessings: Marian Hope Center for Children’s Therapy, Marian Hope Outreach Services, Marian Hope Family Health and Nutrition Services and Marian Hope Academy.

~Angie Knight, Co-Founder and CEO of Marian Hope


Spring Into Hope!

In less than two weeks, we are hosting our biggest event of the year.

Spring Into Hope

Spring into Hope is a 2-day shopping event held at the Independence Events Center, home of the Missouri Mavericks.  Shopping, food & drink samples, fashion shows, raffles, and other giveaways will be available to attendees on Friday, April 26 from 5:00PM – 10:00PM and Saturday, April 27 from 10:00AM – 4:00PM.

We think it’s an amazing event, but don’t take our word for it.  We asked a few mothers whose children attend the Marian Hope Center to describe Spring Into Hope and why it’s important to them.

Marian Hope Center is a place where you will find a therapist that truly cares about your child and wants them to succeed.  I have seen the therapists get SO excited about a tiny sound or imitation that a child makes.  As a parent, I know how important every little sound and movement is.

Marian Hope Center consists of the most giving and loving women I have ever been surrounded by.  You can help them help our children by supporting Spring Into Hope and other fundraisers.  Marian Hope Center’s needs range from large to small.  On a large scale, we are busting at the seams in our current building and parking is very limited.  We need more space.  On a smaller scale, fundraising can provide scholarships to families in need of financial assistance, healthy snacks, supplies, and many other things.  Come out and shop to have fun AND help an awesome non profit organization. – Parent

Spring Into Hope is a great way to hang out, have a girl’s night out, AND support an amazing center all at the same time! Spring Into Hope raises funds and awareness for Marian Hope Center, an incredible not-for-profit that services children in the greater Kansas City area and provides them with speech and occupational therapy services. Spring Into Hope is all of your favorite boutiques from around the city all in one location! This event is the perfect girl’s night/day out together, there is so much energy, so much shopping, fun fashion shows, and free food and drinks. Come on out and have a great time all while supporting an amazing therapy center. – Parent


Marian Hope Center is a non-profit organization.  We count on events like this to keep our doors open.  Your support will ensure that we can continue to help children with special needs and their families in individualized, integrated therapy settings.

So…write it on your calendar.  Invite your friends.  We even have a “Spring Into Hope” Facebook page that you can follow to get more details about the event and the vendors involved.  Tickets are available on our events page.  If you are interested in discounted tickets, check out Jenerous Deals.  We look forward to seeing you at Spring Into Hope 2013!



Movie Premire – The Princess & the Thief

The Princess & the ThiefBen Affleck, George Clooney, and Tyler Perry aren’t the only triple threats writing, directing, and starring in their own movies these days.  Just last month, we held an exclusive movie premiere for a very special film right here in Independence, MO.

The students in Marian Hope Center’s Improving Life and Social Skills class met weekly for two months to create an original movie from start to finish.  Working together under the guidance of a speech-language pathologist, they wrote the movie, gathered props, created the scenery, put together costumes, acted in the movie, and edited the film.  The five students, ranging in ages from 8-13 years, learned important skills for working with peers, memorization, displaying emotions, narration, speaking clearly, responding to social cues, and forming friendships.  The students were challenged to step out of their comfort zone to take on new tasks and roles.

The students even worked together to  plan and host an official premiere  to show off their hard work.  No details were forgotten – students served healthy versions of traditional movie foods – organic popcorn, casein- and gluten-free pizzas, and fruit smoothies.  The premiere concluded with an awards ceremony and each child received a copy of the film.

We are so proud of the hard work these students put into this project.  Please enjoy their original short film below, The Princess and the Thief.


(A special thanks to our OT grad student, Kat, for help with the technological aspects of editing.  We couldn’t have done it without you!)