‘Rachel’s Challenge’ promotes kindness, compassion
Dr. Howell Wright

How does one turn tragedy into triumph? How can a school district reach its students and impact its community to prevent tragedies and to promote kindness and compassion among its stakeholders?

Rachel Joy Scott was the first person killed in the Columbine High School tragedy on April 20, 1999. Immediately after the tragedy, her father Darrell began to speak around the nation and used writings and drawings from Rachel’s many diaries to illustrate the need for a kinder, more compassionate nation. Today, Darrell and thirty other speakers honor Rachel’s life by reaching the nation with Rachel’s simple but profound message.

Rachel’s message was found in one of her school essays. The essay is too long to print in this article, but the focus is clear through the follow ing words from Rachel:

“ I have this theor y that if one person can go out of their way to show compassion then it will start a chain reaction of the same”.

This message from Rachel Scott is presented to schools and businesses throughout the nation through a program called “Rachel’s Challenge”. Rockdale ISD will bring this message to our community this next school year to empower our students, staff, and stakeholders to create a permanent positive culture change in our schools.

The objectives of “Rachel’s Challenge” for schools is to:

• Create a safe learning environment for all students by reestablishing civility and delivering proactive anecdotes to school violence and bullying.

• Improve academic achieve- ment by engag ing st udent s’ hearts, heads and hands in the learning process.

• Provide students with social/ emotional education that is both colorblind and culturally relevant.

• Train adults to inspire, equip and empower students to affect permanent positive change.

The tragedy at Columbine is an important part of Rachel’s story, but the program chooses to focus on her life more than her death. Rachel’s father and the program leaders want the world to know that positive things have sprung from this event as well. The follow ing statements are the foundation of the program”

“ Now more than ever, it is important for people to know that hope can come out of challenge and adversity. There are many circumstances in t his world over which we have no control. ‘Rachel’s Challenge’ is something we can all do—help change the world by starting a chain reaction of kindness. It’s free, it’s easy and it’s empowering to realize that one person can make a difference.”

There are more specific pieces of “Rachel’s Challenge” that are a part of a sustained program that includes a school assembly that creates the desire for positive change followed by the training for students and staff that teaches the “ how to” and ensures that the positive impact will continue. There is also an evening program for the community to enable all of us to help our students respond to life with positive words, attitudes, and actions.

Please join us this next school year when Rockdale ISD brings this exceptional program to our community. Once dates for the program are confirmed we will let you know so all of us can support an exceptional opportunity for our children and our community.

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2011-06-23 digital edition

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