Opening Keynote Speaker (Wednesday) - Darrell Scott

Darrell is the founder of Rachel’s Challenge, an organization offering programs that provide a sustainable, evidence-based framework for positive climate and culture in schools.  Fully implemented, partner schools achieve statistically significant gains in community engagement, faculty/student relationships, leadership potential, and school climate; along with reductions in bullying, alcohol, tobacco and other drug use. 

It started when Darrell's daughter, Rachel Joy Scott, was the first person killed in the Columbine High School shooting on April 20, 1999.  But that was only the beginning of the story.  After her death, many students that Rachel reached out to shared stories with the Scott's about the profound impact her simple acts of kindness had on their lives; even preventing one young man from taking his own life.  They soon realized the transformational effect of Rachel's story and started the non-profit organization that is Rachel's Challenge today. 

Conveyed through stories from Rachel’s life and writings, Darrell's keynote address will challenge listeners with the profound impact that ONE person can have on those around them. His presentation demonstrates the power of deliberately reaching out to others in word and action to start what Rachel called “a chain reaction of kindness and compassion.” 

All the transformative work done with Rachel's Challenge over the years has led the organization to start a chain reaction of their own.  After conducting over 5,000 school programs, they've developed "Awaken the Learner" to expand upon Rachel's Challenge promise.  Educators repeatedly ask for their own how-to blueprint to expand upon and implement locally at their own schools.  Rachel's Challenge has heard that schools are overwhelmed with programs that produce short-term inspiration, with no plan to maintain the mission afterwards.  They listened to their need for sustainable tools to change the climate and culture of their schools.  They then created "Awaken the Learner," a program that is really more of a process.

Inspired by Rachel's vision to create a chain reaction of kindness and compassion, Darrell's messages will help enhance a caring and supportive learning environment, which is essential for academic achievement.  His presentations in Wednesday's opening conference session and Thursday break-out sessions will give educators and students what they need to collaborate, grow, learn and support one another.  Said another way, "Awaken the Learner" gives educators and schools the tools and process road map to get there; making this their process to get their answer.

As founder of Rachel's Challenge, Darrell has spoken to over five million people in live settings around the world, not counting the millions he has spoken to through programs such as Oprah, Larry King Live, CNN, and the Today Show.  He has authored or co-authored five books, and meets with politicians and educators regularly concerning issues of school violence.