Ron Clark (teacher)

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Ron L. Clark, Jr. (born 1972)[1][2] is an American educator, currently teaching in Atlanta, Georgia, who has worked with disadvantaged students in rural North Carolina and Harlem, New York City. He is best known for his ability to raise test scores and his books on teaching children in middle schools. Clark is a New York Times bestselling author and has been interviewed by many TV personalities including Oprah. He is also a speaker who goes from school to school talking to educators about all of his thoughts and opinions on inspiring his educators.


Clark was educated at East Carolina University through the North Carolina Teaching Fellows program. After graduation he got a job and saved up enough money to buy a plane ticket to London. When he arrived in London he got a job at a restaurant where he was a singing and dancing waiter. He then started traveling from country to country.[3] He then flew home to North Carolina and accepted a job in Aurora, North Carolina. Four years later he departed for Harlem to take a job teaching elementary school in an inner-city setting. Clark's latest project is the Ron Clark Academy, a private non-profit school in Atlanta, Georgia where students follow a unique curriculum. The school also gives students opportunities for international travel and offers training workshops for teachers to learn more about Clark's teaching methods.


Clark is known for his ability to raise test scores by using unique methods that incorporate innovation, creativity and 55 classroom rules. He has appeared on many national TV shows, including two appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show, where Ms. Winfrey named him as her first "Phenomenal Man."

Clark received the 2000 Disney Teacher of the Year award[4] from Disney, which owns Hyperion Books.

Clark's first year spent in Harlem was the focus of a 2006 made-for-TV movie, The Ron Clark Story, (also known as The Triumph in Australia, the UK and the Philippines), starring Matthew Perry, which garnered an Emmy nomination for Executive Producers Howard Burkons, Adam Gilad and Brenda Friend.


Ron Clark was very inspired to become an educator. “People always asked Ron what inspired him to teach, and what inspired him was once he got in the classroom and discovered that kids were less fortunate than he was and the kids didn’t really have a chance yet of someone lifting them up. That was what motivated him to remain in the classroom. And once he saw the difference that can be made when you put your whole heart and all of your passion into a group of kids, he saw how you can really change their lives. That is what has fueled him to continue teaching and to continue in this field”.[3]

Ron Clark Academy[edit]


The Ron Clark Academy is a non-profit middle school, housed in a renovated red brick warehouse[5] and is located in southeast Atlanta, Georgia, and accommodates fifth through eighth grade students. Students are from low wealth to high wealth families. Clark had planned to build the school for ten years before construction began. Along with the proceeds of his two books The Essential 55 and The Excellent 11, Clark raised additional funding for the project which eventually cost over $3.5 million. Clark then went on an interviewing rampage for students and faculty and established his team and the academy was established on June 25, 2007. Classes began for students on September 4, 2007. The Ron Clark Academy hosts a Model United Nations conference in Atlanta, called the Ron Clark Model UN. The conference does not accept pre-written resolutions, instead requires position papers. Ron Clark gave a speech during the opening ceremonies about how he and his students raised $12,000 for an ad in USA Today, and then how he raised the money for bus fares to Washington. “The Academy has received both national and international recognition for its success in educating students with academic rigor, passion, and creativity balanced by a strict code of discipline”.[6] The mission of the academy is “to deliver the highest quality educational experience where global citizens are born through advanced rigor, engaging teaching methods, and a passionate climate and culture”.[6]

A collection of business professionals make up the Board of Trustees.[7] The Coca Cola Foundation is among its "Founding Sponsors" and The Atlanta Hawks is one of its "Head of the Class" donors.[8]


The overall atmosphere of the academy is fun, electrified, and blissful. All the students are very welcoming with greetings of hugs and smiles. There is music playing all throughout the school; kids and teachers are all dancing and jumping on a trampoline. The walls are painted with bright colors and there’s a huge slide right in front of the door going from the second floor to the first floor, welcoming the children, which is “a reminder to the kids that anyone can learn in their own way”.[9]

Test scores[edit]

Ron Clark is best known for raising test scores; his improvements of scores are as follows: In 2013, the students at the academy had a high percentage of growth in their test scores in all subjects. This helped students receive scholarships for high schools in Georgia. “In Reading, the test scores went up by 19%, in Math they went up by 29%, Language Arts was increased by 15%, Science 15% and Social Studies 20%”.[6] Ron was able to raise his students test scores by encouraging everyone to try harder. Ron Clark also always had faith in the kids and tried to build them up and not put them down. The fun learning atmosphere also helped the growth of test scores.

Teaching styles[edit]

All the teachers at the academy have their own way of teaching, including Clark, but all the teachers share the passion of what they do. The educators not only teach the students the necessary subjects, they also teach them manners and how to be a better person. The whole school just has a great atmosphere which carries on into the classroom and makes the students excited to learn. The kids and the teachers are always up dancing and always moving. Boring moments are one thing that do not exist at the academy. The students are very involved and are very uplifting to each other, for example, when a kid gets a question right all the other students applaud.

Technology and facilities[edit]

Each classroom provides students with technology such as notebook computers, interactive whiteboards, digital cameras, projectors, and audio video equipment. In addition to the technologically equipped classrooms, the school provides students with accessible amenities such as a recording studio, a darkroom, a two-story vaulted ceiling library, a gymnasium, and a dance studio.

The Ron Clark Academy uses donated computers in all classrooms and offices.[10] As a result, students will be able to study photography, music production, and business leadership.

Student population[edit]

The students that attend The Ron Clark Academy come from a range of backgrounds, including students from high wealth families. Students must go through an application process in order to be accepted into the school. Only 50 students were accepted out of 350 applications the first school year. Students must be nominated for the school and then must apply. Students' applications are then reviewed by Ron Clark and other teachers and students are selected to be interviewed by the school. If accepted, students' parents must sign a Contract of Obligation in which parents agree to volunteer 40 hours of their time each quarter. They also will have to allow their child to go on mandatory field trips essential to the curriculum.[11]

Media attention[edit]

Students in debate class at Ron Clark Academy created a song about the 2008 U.S. presidential election, "Vote However You Like", to the same beat and melody of "Whatever You Like" by T.I. A performance of the song by 6th and 7th graders was posted on the internet and drew national attention. The video has now been viewed over 2 million times.[12] T.I., himself, paid a surprise visit to the Academy after learning of their remake of his song to watch them perform it in person.[13] On October 31, 2008, the "Students of Ron Clark Academy" were named the ABC Person of the Week by ABC World News Tonight.[14] They were also invited to perform at the 2009 Inauguration.[15]


Clark has written three books. The first, called The Essential 55: An Award-Winning Educator's Rules for Discovering the Successful Student in Every Child (2003), is being published in 25 countries. In 2004 he followed with The Excellent 11: Qualities Teachers and Parents Use to Motivate, Inspire, and Educate Children. His third book, The End of Molasses Classes, was published during the summer of 2011, listing "101 Extraordinary Solutions for Parents and Teachers". The Essential 55 is an inspirational book regarding Ron Clark’s 55 essential rules for success in and out of the classroom. The rules incorporate many issues for respect and school policies. The book is not only just for students, but parents and other educators too. A couple of rules that Ron feels is essential for students to learn are “Make eye contact, respect others; ideas and opinions, always be honest, and be the best person you can be”.[16] With this book, “Ron Clark lit a fire under parents and teachers everywhere to raise their standards and expect the best from their students”.[17] After Ron Clark wrote The Essential 55 he wrote The Excellent 11. The book discusses the 11 traits of excellence. The 11 traits of excellence include “enthusiasm, adventure, creativity, reflection, balance, compassion, confidence, humor, common sense, appreciation and resilience”.[18] Ron Clark’s last book he has written is The End of Molasses Classes. Clark “challenged parents, teachers, and communities everywhere to make a real difference in the lives of our kids, offering 101 revolutionary and classroom-tested ways to uplift, educate, an empower our children”.[19]

In December 2008, Oprah Winfrey donated $365,000 to Ron Clark, for the Ron Clark Academy, for his profound dedication to teaching.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "2007 Award Recipients". East Carolina Alumni Association. Retrieved September 15, 2011. 
  2. ^ Gutierrez, Bridget (September 3, 2007). "Former Disney teacher Ron Clark, inspired film, opens Atlanta school". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Archived from the original on September 19, 2007. 
  3. ^ a b Linnéa, Sharon. "The Inspired Teacher." Belief Net. Belief Net. Web. 14 Oct. 2014.
  4. ^ Clark, Ron (2003). The Essential 55: An Award-Winning Educator's Rules for Discovering the Successful Student in Every Child. Hyperion. ISBN 1-4013-0001-4. 
  5. ^ "Change the world – Atlanta". Retrieved April 26, 2011. 
  6. ^ a b c "The Ron Clark Academy." Home. The Ron Clark Academy. Web. 14 Oct. 2014.
  7. ^ "The Ron Clark Academy." Board-Of-Trustees. The Ron Clark Academy. Web. 14 Oct. 2014.
  8. ^ "The Ron Clark Academy." Partners. The Ron Clark Academy. Web. 14 Oct. 2014.
  9. ^ "The Ron Clark Academy." Teaching Reflections, 17 May. 2012. Web. 13 Oct. 2014.
  10. ^ "Dell, Intel Transform Ron Clark Academy Into Interactive Learning Environment.". BNET. Retrieved April 26, 2011. 
  11. ^ Ron Clark -ron clark academy
  12. ^ Graham, Nicholas (October 29, 2008). "'Vote However You Like' Video By Ron Clark Academy Students". Huffington Post. Retrieved October 31, 2008. 
  13. ^ "TI visits the Academy". October 29, 2008. Retrieved December 31, 2008. 
  14. ^ Aasen, Susan and Lauren Sher (October 31, 2008). "Person of the Week:Kids Sing Impassioned Get-Out-The-Vote Song; Ron Clark Academy's Students Become Internet Sensation With Voting Hit". ABC World News Tonight (ABC News). Retrieved October 31, 2008. 
  15. ^ John Murgatroyd; Ashley Fantz (20 January 2009). "Bringing song to Obama's inauguration, students savor fame -". Retrieved 16 June 2013. 
  16. ^ Clark, Ron. The Essential 55: An Award- Winning Educator’s Rules for Discovering the Successful Student in Every Child. New York: Hyperion, 2003. Print.
  17. ^ Clark, Ron. The Essential 55: An Award- Winning Educator’s Rules for Discovering the Successful Student in Every Child. New York: Hyperion, 2003. Print.
  18. ^ Clark, Ron. The Excellent 11: Qualities Teachers and Parents Use to Motivate, Inspire, and Educate Children. New York: Hyperion, 2004. Print.
  19. ^ Clark, Ron. The End of Molasses Classes: Getting Our Kids Unstuck- 101 Extraordinary Solutions for Parents and Teachers. New York: Touchstone, 2011. Print.

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