Ron Clark, an educator widely known for his creative and successful work with low-income and troubled students, was the guest speaker for the Lake County Schools Leadership Mini Conference on Monday, Jan. 25, at Mount Dora High School.
With animated facial expressions and lively, high-energy movements– sometimes bringing him to stand on the armrests of the auditorium chairs – Clark spoke to district administrators about the importance of keeping creativity in and boredom out of the classroom. He urged the audience of mostly principals and assistant principals to smile more, keep feet pointed forward so their backs aren’t to the students, look students in the eye, maintain a sense of urgency and reward the best teachers with more freedom, opportunities, supplies, praise, respect and trust when budgets won’t allow for large pay increases.
Clark, the founder of The Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta and often dubbed “America’s Educator,” 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 rap music, Double Dutch, and other creative means to reach them.
“Although his class of misfits had been last in test scores for the entire city, by year’s end they led the school, besting even the honors pupils,” The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
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 signed copies of his books, including his newest one “Move Your Bus,” after the event.