Hope in Hell’s classroom in an inspiring story written by Richard Louv and featured in the New York Times on November 25th 1990. It is set in North Philadelphia, specifically, the James G Blaine Public School and the neighbourhood it serves.


It tells the amazing story of Madeline Cartwright, the school’s principal. Madeline Cartwright grew up in circumstances somewhat similar to those of the students of Blaine Public School and attended a school with an unsympathetic and insensitive principal.

When she was appointed in 1979 as principal of Blaine, she decides she is going to make a difference. She gets parents involved in the upkeep and running of the school. She gets the neighbourhood children to stop stealing from the school. She sets up a laundry area for the children as they often come to school with dirty clothes because either no one cares enough to wash them or no one has the time.


She does all this to make the children feel at home and to show them that they can count on her. Because of the raging drug trade and rampant drug use in the neighbourhood, many of the children live with constant violence, poverty, lack of care and lack of basic amenities such as electricity and clean water. Mrs Cartwright tries to create an environment in the school that counters all the negativity and darkness the children face on a daily basis.


This article, though a bit lengthy, is extremely encouraging and shows the power of a can-do attitude in even the most desolate of circumstances.