In the wake of the attack in Charlottesville, a group of Metro Schools students created a video to show their love and support for the Charlottesville community. Chad Prather, a 10th grade world studies teacher at Pearl-Cohn Entertainment Magnet High School, shared the video with his former Charlottesville High School colleagues, setting off a national chain of events that would change his and his student’s lives forever.

Prather has been an educator for 15 years, spending five years at Pearl-Cohn, five years at Glencliff High School and five years at Charlottesville High School in his hometown of Charlottesvilla, VA. It was through that hometown connection that Prather was able to provide his students with a once-in-a-lifetime experience outside of the classroom – the opportunity to perform with the Charlottesville High School orchestra in Charlottesville.

“I see teaching as a front-line opportunity to help young people confront the poverties in themselves, and their teaching me helps me to uncover and face my own poverties as well,” Prather said.

“Together, as members of a larger community, we can confront the broader hardships of our society. In this way, teaching is a mechanism by which students can be empowered to act significantly for the betterment of the world around them.”

And that’s exactly what happened. Prather chaperoned the students’ visit to Charlottesville over the weekend of Sept. 16-18, where they performed at a school-wide assembly at Charlotteville High School and various locations around the city – including the street where the attack happened just a few weeks prior.

“This weekend completely challenged my relationship with hope,” Prather said. “So many of the comments I’ve been reading from the residents of Charlottesville, so many of their thoughts spoken in conversation at CHS, on the Downtown Mall, at the Farmers’ Market and in front of the memorial on 4th and Water, so many thoughts have been expressions of hope – hope in the storm.”

Prather added, “At a time of such disconnection, distrust and disunity, the young men and women from Charlottesville and Nashville – complete strangers just days before – pulled one another together in unity of purpose. They showed the rest of us a vision of the beloved community breaking through, not in the future but right now. And that vision – of what is possible and attainable – is what offers people hope enough to step out and live the vision, too.”