Ron Clark

Known to many as "America's Educator," Ron Clark is the 2000 Disney American Teacher of the Year, a two-time New York Times Bestselling author, the subject of a television movie and the founder of...

Educators Get Motivated for New School Year With Destination Graduation Event

Written Kristina Wilder

Lines of teachers climbed out of Floyd County school buses at The Forum on Tuesday for “Destination Graduation ... For Every Child.”

The school year kick-off event featured Ron Clark, a nationally known teacher, author and motivational speaker.

Teachers, staff and administrators were all smiles as they greeted co-workers, waving up at the seats and shouting out friends’ names. There was dancing in the aisles as they waited for Clark to begin.

Superintendent Jeff McDaniel said no one could remember another time all of Floyd County Schools was gathered together under one roof.

Clark established the Ron Clark Academy, a nonprofit middle school in Atlanta that promotes innovation and engages its students through energetic teaching balanced by a strict code of discipline.

He said his theory about how a school works is that it is much like a bus without gas.

“So we teachers have to Flintstone it,” he said. “We have to tear up the floorboards, stick our feet down there and get that bus going.”

He said teachers can be divided into four general types: The runners who do everything they can for the school, joggers who do a good job but with less dedication, walkers who can be pulled along, and riders who do nothing innovative.

He urged administrators to focus on their runners in the coming year.

“I don’t treat my teachers equally, I treat them fairly,” Clark said. “You have to value your runners … Take your negative energy that you would use to try to deal with walkers or riders and expend it as positive energy for your runners. They will make the bus really go.”

The goal, he said, is to get students excited about learning — and to challenge them.

He said employers have told him that “the best and brightest” new graduates are confident, but their work ethic is lacking.

“They are so used to us telling them how great they are, they don’t care to work for praise,” Clark said. “We have wussified children, coddled them.”

He pointed to Finland as a model, saying it’s one of the world’s top-rated education systems and the nation ranks high on the happiness scale. For every hour in school there, he said, students get 45 minutes of instruction and 15 minutes of physical activity.

“They aren’t just sitting there,” he said. “They are getting those endorphins pumping. If you get the kids moving, they learn. They try harder.”

Clark said the students at his school sing songs and move from seat to seat to wake up. They’re taught to communicate and encouraged to cheer each other on for accomplishments.

“We have so much power in our profession,” Clark reminded the educators. “When you get kids to love learning, when you make a difference in their lives, you make a difference in your community. You change our country.”

To Book Ron Clark for your next event, go to: http://PremiereSpeakers.com/Ron_Clark.

Source: Northwest Georgia News

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