I am one member of a five person board. The opinions I express on this forum are mine only, and do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of the Escambia County Staff, Administrators, Employees, or anyone else associated with Escambia County Florida. I am interested in establishing this blog as a means of additional transparency to the public, outreach to the community, and information dissemination to all who choose to look. Feedback is welcome, but because public participation is equally encouraged, appropriate language and decorum is mandatory.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Ron Clark Lights up the Pensacola Civic Center

Teacher, author, and speaker Ron Clark came to Pensacola today.

He addressed a crowd of 1000 teachers, administrators, and members of the public to get everybody “fired up” about the upcoming school year.

Who is Ron Clark?

Mr. Clark is a dynamic speaker, for starters. He has been extremely successful as a teacher, and in 2000 he was named the Disney “Teacher of the Year.” His novel, The Essential 55, was a New York Times Bestseller. His story was made into the 2006 movie “The Ron Clark Story” starring Matthew Perry (Chandler, from “Friends”). Mr. Clark currently operates the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, Georgia. A short biography is available here.

His message to Escambia County Teachers today—do not be afraid to take risks. Do whatever you can to get through to your students and try to identify with your students and teach TO THEM rather than lecture AT THEM.

I am so glad that we as a district were able to have Mr. Clark come to Pensacola, and I am glad that I was able to attend today’s event. I am also glad that we had a respectable turnout—although I lament the fact that only about 1/3 of our district’s teachers showed up for this FREE event. Every teacher needs to see this guy, that’s my opinion, and those that chose not to attend made a huge mistake!

My main takeaways from his message this morning was that to get through to some students—teachers need to think “out of the box”. Mr. Clark uses some non-standard approaches that have proven to be very effective.

Mr. Clark uses music to get his students motivated to learn.

Mr. Clark uses creativity to make his lessons relevant to younger generations of students.

Mr. Clark engages parents and the community to help him teach his students

Mr. Clark is not afraid to take risks

Mr. Clark believes in maintaining high standards—and finding ways to help his students meet these expectations, rather than lowering expectations.

Mr. Clark’s website, for additional information and resources, is here.

I must say that I was totally blown away by this man—and I am very grateful to the following individuals who made his visit to Pensacola today possible:

Mrs. Celestine Lewis, Principal, Jacqueline Harris Preparatory Academy

Escambia County School District, Title One Department (Marcia Nowlin)

Malcolm Thomas, Escambia County Superintendent of Schools

Escambia County Board of County Commissioners (donation of Civic Center facilities for today’s event).

I will strongly support bringing Mr. Clark back for next years’ school year kickoff event, and I will tell everyone I talk to that they NEED to see this man in person!

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