Renowned educator Ron Clark gives local teachers, administrators a pep talk
District administrators and teachers got a motivational
boost Tuesday morning as they prepared for the post-winter break return of
students on Wednesday. Ron Clark, an educator widely known for his creative and
successful work with at-risk students, was invited to address the standing-room-only
group at Gray Middle School.
Clark, the founder of The
Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, was the focus of a 2006 television movie, “The
Ron Clark Story,” which starred Matthew Perry and highlighted Clark’s first
year teaching in East Harlem. There, Clark encountered neglected, abused and
difficult students. He used hip-hop music, Double Dutch, and other creative
means to reach them.
“You don’t have to dress
in costume, stand on desks or rap lessons, but you have to do something,” he
told the crowd, in his trademark animated style. “Kids can tell when you go
above and beyond that you love them.”
Clark’s 2003 book, “The Essential
55: An Award-Winning Educator’s Rules for Discovering the Successful Student in
Every Child,” became a New York Times
bestseller. More than 1 million copies have been sold, and it has been
published in 25 countries.
He told stories about how he
pulled in bus drivers, cafeteria workers, custodians and even convenience store
clerks in the community to help students successfully learn 1,000 vocabulary
words. He told the audience how he changed the words to “The Love Boat” TV
show theme song to teach geography lessons, and how he used balloons (and the promise of
being allowed to pop them) to teach math.
He urged educators to avoid what he calls “molasses classes” – slow and
unexciting – and to get passionate about teaching.
“We have one chance to make a
difference with these students,’’ he said.
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