Meet Hope Academy’s Newest Peer Recovery Specialist, Ellen Russell

Meet Hope Academy’s Newest Peer Recovery Specialist, Ellen Russell

Ellen Russell is our newest peer recovery specialist. She is also a Hope Academy alumna and graduated in 2014. Ellen grew up in Indianapolis and currently lives on the west side close to Eagle Creek Park.

As a Peer Recovery Specialist, Ellen assists the recovery coaches with assessments and running certain recovery and wellness/small circle classes. She runs the STARR room in the afternoon where she leads a recovery and wellness class and process group. 

She works with Kelly Johnson, the STARR room monitor, to make sure they are giving each student a special and pleasant environment to be in. Together, they also help new students get adjusted to the Hope Academy and its unique community. As Ellen personally knows, it can be a hard adjustment coming from a bigger public school to a smaller setting that provides more individualized attention. 


Ever since Ellen graduated from Hope, she dreamt of coming back to work here and it’s been a great fit for her. In the short time she’s been here, Ellen has gotten to know and bond with the students. She really enjoys helping them through their issues, ranging from schoolwork to personal problems. She hopes to help the students get through the day with feeling like they have support and are always in a safe space when they are at Hope Academy. Ellen personally benefited from the support from the amazing teachers and staff when she was at Hope and she is so glad to be able to pay it forward. 

“When I went to Hope we didn’t have recovery coaches and I think it makes a world of a difference. It makes me extremely happy to help the kids when I can understand some of the struggles or issues they may be having or going through. I had an extremely difficult and traumatic childhood so it makes me feel that I’m making my younger self proud to be helping kids that can relate to some of the issues I’ve gone through. I’m proud of myself for stepping out of my comfort zone and pursuing a job at Hope,” Ellen shared. 

We are so glad to have a Hope Academy alumna on our team and be able to relate to our students in a unique and powerful way. Ellen said, “Hope Academy saved my life. I never thought I would have lived past the age of 18/19, so to come back nine years after graduating is something I’m extremely proud of and grateful for.”