I finally got a chance to see Ron Clark, 2000 Disney Teacher of the Year, best-selling author, founder of the Ron Clark Academy, inspiration for "The Ron Clark Story" movie, and friend of Oprah. I think the Disney award fits, because he is one animated dude! He’s passionate, energetic, and fun to listen to.
I actually didn’t know anything about him before this crazy year started, but a colleague was teasing me that since I’m the Teacher of the Year, they’re going to make a movie out of my life. I kinda doubt that. I'm hoping for a school named after me, though, so my name will be on everyone's gym clothes.
I had a few minutes to talk with Ron before his presentation last night, and he was very kind and personable. Overall, I was impressed. I didn’t think I would be.
I figured from what I had seen of him, he’d be fairly egocentric and somewhat Disneyfied. And I suppose there was a bit of that, as is probably inevitable. But his passion for kids, for education, and for community change within a global perspective is really quite amazing. He doesn’t just talk about it (like I feel that I sometimes do,) he acts on it. He acts in bold, courageous ways, and never with a half-assed effort. He jumps in with both feet together (like when he jumped into a hot oven at Dunkin’ Donuts and got locked in… funny story, ask him about it sometime…)
While not every teacher can be a Ron Clark (and it’s probably best that they’re not!), his enthusiasm is certainly contagious (and exhausting,) and we can learn a great deal from his bold and innovative approaches to education.