Made from kindness, for kindness

A Note of Hope project promotes positivity in CISD


Camila Villarreal

Coppell High School special education teacher Melissa Murray gives directions to her seventh period Applied Vocational Experience class about the next preparation phase of their business and year-long class project called A Note of Hope. This business provides a service where CISD students can send anyone kind, uniquely designed notes for free.

By Camila Villarreal, Coppell High School

In a world so often divided by negativity, good deeds can often depend on groups of people seeking to make a difference through kindness. Coppell High School has found itself extremely lucky to have such a group of its very own.

A Note of Hope offers Coppell ISD students and faculty pre-made notes they can send to each other through their service.

CHS special education teacher Melissa Murray was challenged to come up with a yearlong project for her new Applied Vocational Experience class. This class gives the special education students a chance to walk through problems and situations they would encounter at work. The purpose of the class is to build the students’ skills in identifying and working their way through issues they might encounter. 

“[For] all the classes I teach I have to make everything from scratch,” Murray said. “This is my 21st year at the district, and every year I have to build a curriculum for these children who are all on different levels. A challenge of mine is finding that common ground. I was trying to come up with an idea that would get them involved with other people. I’m really into things that inspire people to do something kind.”

With this in mind, Murray devised a business plan that not only gives her special ed learners and student peers a better sense of the business process but also promotes random acts of kindness across Coppell ISD. 

The students start by designing hundreds of cards, each with a different pop culture character or cute and silly image. They then add a unique pun, kind compliment or inspirational message. The students sort the cards by categories such as romance, birthdays and best friends, and each card is given an identification number. To make it more appealing to CISD students, Murray contacted as many school sports, clubs and organizations as she could and asked for their logos to put on the cards. 

“It’s been fun seeing where the kids’ strengths are as far as putting everything together,” CHS senior peer assistant Grace Tanner said. “It’s so much fun seeing them impact others in such a wholesome way.”

Any money that A Note of Hope makes will be used as funding for their service. They intend to be entirely free of charge, with exceptions for requests to add something extra to the compliment cards such as pencils or stickers.

Carson Allen, Murray’s son and former graphic designer for The Sidekick, designed a logo for A Note of Hope shown on the front of their red apron uniforms as well as the backdrop for their business stand where they intend to hang all their different card booklets for people to flip through.

The business, although directed by Murray and her special ed students, is heavily dependent on the help of the peer students who assist them one-on-one.

“As a peer assistant, my job is to be there whenever the kids need me,” CHS junior peer assistant Soyoung Cho said. “It’s been nice seeing [the special ed students] grow into this. Giving them this before-hand experience [with the business] is really going to help them branch out later on in life.”

To mimics the real process of starting a business, Murray created job titles for every student, such as “Master Order Wizard,” “Happiness Manager” and “Marketing Rockstar.” 

“What I’m trying to do is essentially put this project in their hands,” Murray said. “I want to make them feel valued and heard. They should have just as much of a voice as anybody else. I love leading this kind of thing, but this [is] about stepping back and watching my kids do it all on their own.”

This is not Murray’s first time leading projects driven by kindness. Last year, her classes handed out more than 400 Valentines in the hallways and put up barcodes throughout the school containing random acts of kindness for people to do.

Murray’s classes intend to execute their business within the next few weeks during lunch hours. Their plan – aside from reeling in people from their stand – is to travel from table to table and introduce their product. This gives the students an opportunity to form a closer connection with other classmates and improve communication skills. 

For more updates follow Murray on Twitter at @MMurrayCHS.

Follow Camila Villarreal (@fliipthewriter) and @CHSCampusNews on Twitter.

This story was originally published on Coppell Student Media on September 24, 2019.