Hundreds of educators gathered on Wednesday, August 14, for two motivational presentations by Darrell Scott, the father of Rachel Scott who was a victim of the Columbine High School shooting in 1999.
Scott is the founder of Rachel’s Challenge, whose team of more than 50 presenters span the globe to share the message of kindness, based on Rachel’s diaries, with students at schools and universities from Bangladesh and China to Bermuda and Australia.
In the morning session, Scott spoke at The Grove Church in Riverside to more than 800 teachers and administrators who work with children across Riverside County. In the afternoon, Scott shared Rachel’s Challenge with dozens of educators at the Riverside County Office of Education.
Scott retold the story of the Columbine High School tragedy that occurred on April 20, 1999, when two students killed 13 people, including themselves. Through documentary videos, personal stories, and recorded news reports, Scott explained the genesis of Rachel’s Challenge that came from reading through the contents of six of her diaries found after her death.
“Never underestimate your power to impact the lives of children,” said Scott. “I am in schools almost every day and I am working with educators every day. There is a lot of pressure on kids to perform academically, but we also need to spend a little more common care on the person.”
The three challenges Scott urged educators to remember included: Look for the best in others, use words that heal and don’t hurt, and help individuals dream the impossible. Although Scott’s family has grown to include five children, three stepchildren, and 11 grandchildren, he shared that “there is always a missing person in our family.”
Scott said that the words of wisdom he shared with educators came directly from his daughter’s diaries. “Compassion is the greatest form of love humans have to offer,” wrote Rachel Scott in an assignment months before the massacre at Columbine High School. “You may just start a chain reaction.”
And, Scott pointed out, 15 years after her death, her words have touched millions of people around the world to start chain reactions of compassion and kindness. As she wrote in her diary: “People will never know how far a little kindness can go.”