Ron Clark, an American teacher, has a different and unique way of teaching kids and making a difference in their lives. He is spreading the message to other educators by turning the classroom around for students in the United States. Clark is changing the lives of children through his motivation and determination and discovering “untapped” potential in students in order for them to become the best that they can be.
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Clark’s childhood and young adult experiences are what makes him passionate about life, which in turn allows him inspire and educate his students. Throughout college, he found that his one true love in life was adventure (“Essential 55” 159). Because of his love for adventure, Clark had some wild moments. For example he ran across a football field that was being broadcasted nationally while being chased by the police (“Essential 55” 43). He never thought that he would become a teacher. Clark once said, “The time I have spent teaching children lessons has been wonderful, and I can’t imagine doing anything other than teaching. That is ironic, however, because when I was growing up, being a teacher was the last thing I wanted to do” (“Essential 55” xii). His experiences from his youth are his foundation of balancing fun and learning in his classroom. He puts himself in the mind-set of the children in order to let the students understand the information. For example, he remembers “sitting in classes, while reading as a group. Sometimesâ€¦I would stare at the page and daydream about anything” (“Excellent 11” 46). In order for his student’s not to feel the same way in class, “I read with force, energy, and expression. Sometimes while reading I’ll jump on a student’s desk, scream at the top of my lungs, or fall to the floor” (“Excellent 11” 49). Through these actions of making the classroom more entertaining, it illustrates that he is willing to think outside the box until he finds the best way to help kids learn. Since the students can genuinely see the efforts he puts into each day, they will be more willing to put effort towards achieving their goals in the classroom. By holding on to his childhood memories, he is able to become a deeper person and to become a role model to his students.
Since his mother wanted him to stay put, Clark became a fifth grade teacher at Snowden Elementary School, where many of the students had behavior problems and learning disabilities (“Essential 55” xi) Even though he had just begun teaching, Clark was slowly changing the world of education. Over the next few years in the classroom, his experiences were filled with ups and downs, with invitations to the White House, trips around the world and projects that captured world wide attention. These events show how much effort he puts into molding his students into responsible adults (“Essential 55” 3) Through his out of the box teaching style, he is not only teaching the curriculum, but also pushing them slowly into the modern world. By creating an adventure for kids, he is allowing his students to learn from experience by letting them to learn from their mistakes, to build trust and to encourage them to become better students. Clark started his own adventure when he left rural North Carolina to go teach at Harlem in New York City (Miners). He states that “Moving there opened my eyes, my heart, and my mind to experiences I never would have had otherwise” (Clark). Even though it was hard to move to a new city, he was glad that he just went for it (“Excellent 11” 37). By putting that same courage and determination into student’s lives, it can teach them to face their fears, and give them the urge to follow their dreams. Clark sets an example by following his heart, thus building a vision of how students should live their lives.
Through his accumulating fame, Clark is able to spread the message on how make the best of each student’s potential. Clark started becoming known when he received the 2001 Disney Teacher of the Year award (Truesdell). Clark wanted to spread the message about what he thought was important when teaching children, so he wrote two books. In 2003 he wrote, The Essential 55: An Award-Winning Educator’s Rules for Discovering the Successful Student in Every Child, which is about his rules on how to make the children the best that they can be both in and out of the classroom. In 2004, he wrote a second book, The Excellent 11: Qualities Teachers and Parents use to Motivate, Inspire, and Educate. (Truesdell). The rules he made are less about getting kids to behave, but preparing them for life after they leave the security of the classroom. Because of their exposure to Clark’s fifty-five rules, students are slowly building their confidence towards handling a variety of situations (“Essential 55” 190). “I know that I can take them anywhere and put them in any situation because they are at the point where they are eager to experience life” (Miners). While teaching, Clark has been on various TV shows, including the Oprah Winfrey Show where she famously named him as her “Phenomenal Man” (Miners). To further spread his fame, his first year spent in Harlem was made into a movie, The Ron Clark Story, in 2006.
Ron Clark is known for his ability to go into classes filled with difficult students and to turn the classes around by incorporating creativity and innovation because he feels that no one is able to see their potential in life (Truesdell). Clark states that “Finding a way to dream big for every child in your classroom, no matter how challenging or difficult the situation may be, is necessary. You have to look at every child and see potential” (Clark).
Clark just recently started his own school, The Ron Clark Academy, in Atlanta, Georgia where the students follow Clark’s unique teaching methods. It offers students opportunities for travel, local field trips and seminars where teachers can learn about Clark’s teaching style. These trips allow students to learn about diverse cultures either locally or around the world. From the money earned from his two books and other funding, the academy was able to be established on June 25, 2007 (Miners). Each classroom is provided with the latest technology, such as notebook laptops and interactive whiteboards. Because of this technology, students are able to experience a variety of subjects such as music that they normally would not be able to (Truesdell). This school captures Clark’s spirit. By selecting students Clark and his team think needs this opportunity the most, Clark is able to build a positive environment, and show the kids the joy in learning. By giving the students knowledge, they are able to fulfill their own goals and later on in life give back to the community by changing the lives of others. Through the Ron Clark Academy, Clark can leave his legacy on the world.
Once he saw how differently his students learned for the better, he realized how you can really change the younger generation. By using his methods to make a difference in children’s lives, he stayed in the world of education to continue to motivate students to become the best that they can be and to discover the “success in every child.”
Clark Ron. E-mail. 8 march 2010
Clark, Ron. The Excellent 11. New York: Hyperion, 2004. Print
Clark, Ron. The Essential 55. New York: Hyperion, 2003. Print
Miners, Zach. “Reaping the benefits of Intelligent Classrooms.” District Administration 43.9 (2007): 12. Student Resource Center- Silver. Web. 28 Mar. 2010
Truesdell, Jeff “He Takes Students Around the World.” People Weekly 23 June 2008: Students Resource center- Silver. Web. 28 Mar. 2010
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