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Hope Institute taps former HIS vice principal as facilitator

By Kaliga Rice 

For the Enquirer 

Debra Harvel Kreps has a passion for making difference and helping others be the best they can be – and Hope Institute is giving her an outlet for this passion. 

Following her retirement from Hartselle Intermediate School, Harvel Kreps will now be working as a facilitator at Hope Institute. As a facilitator, she will be introducing the institute’s programs to other schools and administering training in north Alabama. 

According to www.hopeinstitute.org, the goal of the Hope Institute is to assist Alabama schools with character development in students. “That is my whole heart,” said Harvel Kreps. 

To accomplish character development, Hope Institute established the Hope Leadership Academy to promote the 11 Principles Framework, created by character.org. The academy is a three-year program schools participate in to help them foster an environment of character. Schools that successfully complete the academy are named National Schools of Character by character.org.  

Harvel Kreps is uniquely positioned to take on the facilitator role, thanks to her past expereince with Hope Institute.  

HIS, where Harvel Kreps previously served as vice principal, participated in the Hope Leadership Academy, and Harvel Kreps was one of the primary faculty members who spearheaded the school’s involvement.  

The program required HIS to create and implement strategies that would help foster an environment of character. Some of the strategies the school implemented included “The Tiger Way,” which is a pledge students said daily, and student-led conferences, where students rated themselves on character traits like respect, integrity and selfcontrol.  

Harvel Kreps said HIS’ strategies to implement character development also involved teachers integrating knowledge of proper character into daily lessons and parents working with their children at home, following the coronavirus pandemic.  

HIS’ efforts to develop character in students over the course of three years led to the school being named a National School of Character by character.org. 

Harvel Kreps said being named a National School of Character is not about the recognition; rather, it is significant because it highlights the hard work HIS put into developing character. “It’s recognizing what all we did to get there,” she said. “It recognizes the importance of character and making a difference.”   

Her involvement in the Hope Institute stems from her desire to help others and to make a difference. “I want everybody to be the best they can be,” she said 

Harvel Kreps said she hopes the Hope Institute’s development of character in schools helps people understand each other more effectively in today’s society.  

“There’s so much this would help in regards to understanding other people’s perspectives,” Harvel Kreps said. “We’re not all the same. We’re different. If we can embody those traits, it helps all of us.”