Milken Family Foundation 2011
Taking Up the Challenge (Follow-up to “Code for the Road”, Fall 2005) As a nationally recognized expert on character education and CEO of the National Character Education Center, Gene Bedley (CA ’94) continues to travel around the North America showing educators how to integrate lessons on responsibility, discipline and respect into their curriculum. In addition to his in-person visits, he often creates new educational materials to help educators implement character education. Among his more recent project is a three-part video series for elementary educators, created in partnership with the Bureau of Education and Research, which conducts staff development training for educators in the U.S. and Canada. The videos demonstrate how to train teachers in implementing his Discipline strategies in an actual primary school environment. The videos are accompanied by workbooks to maximize the training experience.
The reach of Bedley’s impact has extended far beyond North America. With much of his material on ethics available online, he has attracted considerable interest for his work internationally.
He has conducted and implemented character education training in Singapore and several African Nations including Rwanda, where his Values in Action program is helping to educate the next generation of Rwandans, in an effort to prevent the kind of conflicts that resulted in the Rwandan genocide of 1994. Bedley’s Values in Action! program has also been being implemented in Kenya, South Africa, and Nigeria A recent inquiry included sending the program to Iran.
As rewarding as all of this international work has been, perhaps his most rewarding work in the past several years has been closer to home, in connection with an organization called Rachel’s Challenge.
Rachel Scott was the first student to be shot and killed by Dylan Harris and Eric Klebold during the shootings at Columbine High School in 1999. In honor of her private journal entries, which were full of positive, hopeful messages about compassion and kindness, her father Darrell Scott created a nonprofit organization called Rachel’s Challenge, through which he and his family speak to schools across the country, teaching lessons about compassion and kindness and respect for all students. Rachels challenge is the largest assembly program for schools K through The University Level!
Bedley met Darrell Scott by chance when the two men happened to be sitting next to each other on a plane. Over the past two years, Bedley has volunteered much of his time helping to develop a secondary-level curriculum for Rachel’s Challenge as a follow up to the school assemblies about Rachel’s Life and legacyand more recently, an elementary-level program as well. He is now chairman of the Rachel’s Challenge National Educational Advisory Board.
“It really is one of the most exciting things I’ve ever been involved in,” he said. “I can’t think of a better way to spend the rest of my life. I feel this is an organization that will live on and change lives everywhere. Kids are going to be kinder, more compassionate and more respectful as a result of Rachel’s Life .” “It’s been life-changing,” he added. “Absolutely life-changing.”