Manny Scott gives educators a ‘renewed heart’ for reaching youth

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January 19, 2017 by HCDE-Texas

mannyscott-2More than 130 educators in and around the Houston area signed up to hear Manuel Scott’s emotional presentation entitled “How to Reach ‘Unreachable’ Youth.”

Scott, one of the original Freedom Writers profiled in the 2007 movie, led a workshop on Jan. 19 at HCDE’s fifth-floor conference center. Scott spoke both to the importance and difficulty of the work that educators do.

He said his goal was for attendees to leave with a “renewed heart” for understanding, engaging, reaching and teaching despondent students in every school.

Scott started out by sharing details of his early days as a troubled youth who faced family and neighborhood violence at every turn. Scott said his lowest moment came when his best friend was murdered, at which point he gave up on school and resigned himself to the life of a dropout.

“How do you reach that kid?” Scott challenged the audience.

He went on to offer the following pieces of advice based on his doctoral research and life experiences.

  1. Develop real relationships – Situations at home often leave young people to be suspicious of adults and unable to see who’s trying to help. Investing time and interest in youth, listening to them and building trust are keys to real relationships.
  2. Grab their attention – Because educators today are competing with peers, TV, social media and a multitude of other distractions, they must get creative about keeping students engaged and keeping them focused on goals.
  3. Be proactive – Scott talks about “turning the page,” or making a profound and lasting choice to improve the quality of one’s life. Reaching “unreachable” youth takes more than just casual advice; it requires urging others to take proactive steps.

Interested in more offerings from HCDE’s Teaching and Learning Center? See upcoming events. 

For more information about Manuel Scott, go to


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