Suzanna Davis, Director of Programming, Grant Us Hope joins Travis Nipper to discuss Changing the Culture of Your School for All Students.

Listen to Episode 3

We begin today in the big house with our guest and GUH team member, Suzanna Davis (1:15)

Introducing herself, Suzanna provides insight to her role of Director of Programming, which oversee the educational based portions of Grant Us Hope (2:00)

Suzanna shares her goal to strengthen relationships with superintendents and principals, advisors, and Hope Squad kids (2:51)

She then talks about how she was a lifelong educator in the Lakota school district (3:11)

Suzanna shares how she has most recently served as principal at Lakota East for 8 years and how that has influenced her approach to Grant Us Hope (4:08)

Travis discusses how influential the Lakota school districts have been with Grant Us Hope and commends their contributions (6:00)

Next, Suzanna talks about her transition from a school administrator and supporter to a participant in the cause like she had seen in her school and in the community as a whole (6:32)

Travis agrees about the passion of the Grant Us Hope team and asks Suzanna about changing the culture in schools (8:50)

She then replies by noting that culture is very difficult to quantify because it is measured greatly through feeling, so without data like that it is harder to develop action plans for enacting change (9:25)

She eloquently continues with her point that you must enjoy the journey of getting to the desired change within culture because there is no one size fits all (10:55)

Prompted by Travis, Suzanna then addresses where to begin with cultural change and outlines the dangers of becoming complacent and comfortable with an existing culture. She discusses her focus of empowering students which she believes empowers all adults involved and further drives meaningful change (11:50)

Travis reinforces her point of the students being the front line when it comes to strengthening the conversation around mental health (15:00)

Suzanna talks about the three-pronged approach of prevention, intervention, and postvention and the focus of practicing prevention most successfully through the training and empowerment of these students who have already been having the conversation for years. She continues by emphasizing that it is about small do-able solutions that can have an impact day-to-day (15:50)

Travis asks what changes she has seen with the kids. Suzanna then notes how we are training future leaders to make their voices heard and use their influence to be the most successful aspect of our efforts (18:45)

The two then agree on the humbling aspect of this next generation’s push to stop the stigma by opening up the conversation and completely changing the dialogue surrounding mental health even with adults (21:10)

Suzanna then pivots to a conversation of how the pandemic has come into play. She notes the resilience of our students to handle the expected anxieties that come with immense change as the summer has progressed. She adds that she has seen healthy conversations come out of this significant challenge and how schools have assessed models to keep the social and emotional needs of the students at the core of their back-to-school approach (22:30)

She then is able to share her vision for GUH by talking about how there is a tiered approach to Hope Squads with different schools having different levels of experience and how they can take the 3rd, 4th, and 5th yeared Hope Squads to new levels (26:10)

Further, she discusses how she has noticed connections grow between Hope Squads and different student groups into partnerships that transcend the barriers dividing students (28:55)

Travis and Suzanna continue that point to include how schools have grown partnerships and connections to further their mission of student development and empowerment (30:45)

Next Suzanna shares how we at GUH are always looking for more partners in order to forward the conversation and share our mission and stories with as many communities as possible (31:50)

Finally, the best way to continue the conversation with Suzanna is through twitter, @SD4HOPE (34:00)

Concluding with our traditional mic drop, Suzanna refers back to her transition to GUH and how she has found at the core of what we are doing is that we are empowering students to save lives (34:55)


Suzanna Davis, Director of Programming, Grant Us Hope

Twitter: @SD4HOPE

You can follow the podcast on Twitter at @GUHPodcast

Have a question or topic you’d like covered in an upcoming Grant Us Hope podcast? Contact us Here



Past Episodes

July 28 – Diane Egbers: WHY Grant Us Hope, with Diane Egbers, Founder of Grant Us Hope

August 4 – Return to School Anxiety: How to Help Your Teen with Dr. Beverly Smolyanski, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital and Medical Center

Upcoming Episodes

August 18 – Helping Youth Who Have Experienced Trauma with Jeremy Joseph, Montgomery County Educational Service Center