By Steve Williams
For every cry, there’s a laugh.
For every why, there’s a wow.
For every end, there’s a start.
The Columbine High School massacre was the worst shooting to ever occur on a high school campus in the United States. But from it arose a burning desire to care more about students in our country.
“The 1999 Columbine incident, I was really moved by that, as we all should have been,” recently recalled Dave Moore, a retired teacher and coach who once headed up the Knoxville Catholic High football program when that school was located on Magnolia Avenue. “And it bothered me so much as a teacher and a coach that I couldn’t sleep.”
Moore started putting his thoughts and ideas on paper, working on a potential “School Care program” for about two months. His compilations looked like “a playbook,” said Moore, now a Knoxville resident who also coached high school football at Sunbright and Lenoir City.
But Moore hadn’t told anyone what he was working on. “And, really, I was waiting for someone else to do it,” he remembers.
Then one night, Moore heard his daughter, Allie, 4 years old at the time, “balling and crying” in her sleep.
“Did you have a nightmare?,” he asked as he went to check on her. “I said Allie, you know how much your dad loves you.
“She just like woke up, and her eyes were as big as silver dollars, and she said, ‘I know how much my daddy cares about me.’ And that did it.”
The next morning Moore went to the school superintendent to reveal his idea for the School Care program he had been working on.
“My daughter kicked me over the edge,” he said. “In my eyes, God used my daughter to reach me. (He said) Do it. What else can I show you to do this?”
Moore started the School Care program at Lenoir City High, where he was a Physical Education teacher, that fall of 1999, about four months after two high school seniors murdered 12 fellow students and a teacher and injured over 20 others in the Columbine shooting in Colorado and then committed suicide.
Schools throughout the area soon added the program. The Associated Press came in and did a story, Moore said, and the program went nationwide.
“It’s amazing, because it’s still going on,” said Moore. “I still get calls from schools every year that want to do it.”
In 2001, Moore was honored as the National Teacher of the Year by the National Education Association for establishing the School Care program, and also the National Educator of the Year by the National Character Education Center for his work in promoting positive character traits in school and community.
The School Care program was just the first spoke in the Care 365 wheel. The popular Careacter Star Athlete program was founded in 2002 and has spread into 38 states. (Moore believes it would be better to spell character “careacter” and already is trying to get the spelling of the word changed in Webster’s dictionary).
Care 365 also includes Community Care, Taking Care of Dreams and the Christmas Care program.
Moore believes “we should care more about the kids unconditionally.”
He says that goes for everyone connected with the school, including the superintendent, teachers, cafeteria workers, custodians.
“It starts with the bus driver when the kids get on the bus,” said Moore. “Have a driver that smiles, greets them, sets the tone for the day.”
Over the years, Moore said he learned students “don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.”
If and when that happens, “then you won’t have discipline problems in school and on the field (in athletics),” he says.
Families and friends of the Columbine victims should know those lives weren’t lost in vain that horrible day. Many miles away, it inspired a teacher to try and make our world more caring.
For every frown, there’s a smile.
For every fall, there’s a climb.
For every loss, there’s a gain.