The Spreading Hope team is made up of experienced education leaders with decades of hands-on experience in growing and leading private, faith-based urban classical schools. We are passionate about helping school planting groups in urban communities, with a specific focus on groups starting at the K-5 or K-8 level. We also offer limited consulting services to advise existing urban Christian schools. Email info@spreading-hope.org for rates and topics.

Russ Gregg, Vision Fellow

Background: Russ Gregg (B.A., Global Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison) has served as Head of School since Hope Academy’s founding in 2000. He has been a resident of the Phillips neighborhood since 1994. In 1999, he was an administrator at Calvin Christian School in Edina, and quit his job to help lay the groundwork for a Christian school for his urban neighbors. Russ and his wife Phyllis, who teaches 3rd grade at Hope Academy, live four blocks away from the school. They have three grown children. Russ serves on the Board of Directors of the Society for Classical Learning. Russ Gregg is available to serve as a speaker or panelist.

Areas of Expertise & Topics: Visionary Leadership, Governance, School Culture, Classical Education The Achievement Gap, Urban Christian Education, The Case for Christian Schooling, Sermons on various Biblical passages.


Dan Olson, Executive Director

Background: Dan Olson serves as Executive Director of Spreading Hope, where he oversees strategic vision, networking urban Christian educators, and serving aspiring school planting groups in discerning the call to start and lead new schools in their communities. He most recently worked at The Gospel Coalition, where he directed the donor ministries team. Previously, he oversaw development and operations at Hope Academy for nine years, and has advised dozens of non-profits, including school planting groups in cities around the country. Dan began his career in Christian Education at Minnehaha Academy, where he taught English Literature, Speech and Debate. He received his bachelor’s degree in communications from Wheaton College (IL), and a master’s degree in Christian Studies (church history concentration) from Regent College (Vancouver, Canada). He serves on the board of directors of Hope Academy, and lives with his wife and four children in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Areas of Expertise & Topics: Christian stewardship & development model; Governance; School Operations & Policy; Leadership Assessment


Debbie Harris, Fellow, Coordinator & Classroom Fellow

Background: Debbie Harris graduated from Azusa Pacific University with a Bachelors Degree in Liberal Studies (with a California K-8 certification) and has spent fifteen-plus years as a classroom educator, primarily in the elementary grades. She has taught at Foundations Academy in Boise, Idaho and at Hope Academy in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she has also served as Dean of Teaching Staff and Curriculum. Debbie has focused on mentoring teachers in classroom management strategies and classical techniques since 2002. She has also been a speaker and consultant with the CiRCE Institute. She lives in Oakdale, Minnesota with her husband and two sons.

Areas of Expertise & Topics: Classroom Governance, Classical Pedagogy, Elementary Curriculum and Instruction, Coaching Teachers, Shepherding a Child’s Heart

Plant a Gospel-Shaped School:

Spreading Hope exists to ignite a movement of gospel-shaped schools serving at-risk youth in our nation's cities. We spread the model of Hope Academy in Minneapolis — a leader in the movement of classical, Christ-centered, urban schools.

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