Top Five Reasons to Visit the Ron Clark Academy

I was honored to be able to visit the Ron Clark Academy last week along with my principal and my blogging besties! I wanted to channel my inner Ron Clark and so I thought I could sum it up in a list.

5. Their School Looks BOMB
  The school and classrooms' aesthetics are UNREAL. Each classroom has a theme and the walls are spray-painted in professional graffiti to match.  I mean, come on... does your lunchroom play Harry Potter music and do you have a large metal dragon in front of your main staircase?

4. This Ain't Your Momma's Professional Development
I can easily doodle my name on scrap paper through most of the PD I have been to through my district.  I also find myself never really bringing anything back to my classroom after taking notes.  RCA is VERY different. The first thing you see when you go into the library is a giant trampoline with students and teachers dancing and singing.  My jam was playing and I was totally feeling the vibe. principal was with me so I had to tone down my Jazzercise moves for sure.
  You observe classrooms of REAL teachers and REAL students doing rigorous, fun learning.  You will get some great teaching delivery ideas and strategies.  At RCA, you also get to go to sessions that are only teachers and you learn about different technology, how to engage students, game ideas, etc.  Just like any PD, it does cost money to go to RCA.  Talk to your PTA or your district or write a grant. JUST GET THERE.

3.  Ron Clark and Kim Bearden {nuff' said}
Both of their stories are different, but they came together at just the right time to start the Ron Clark Academy in a run-down factory where drug deals and street walkers were often found.  They've transformed the building, but more than that- transformed those kids.  They are inspiring, fun, goofy, and passionate teachers and leaders.

Their sense of humor and fun shows in the school. You can find a large blue slide from the second floor to the ground floor.  You best believe I got "Slide Certified".

We also had the chance to eat dinner with Kim Bearden on Saturday night (She's the co-founder of RCA) and let me tell you, she is THE REAL DEAL. Her story is amazing and I felt like I already knew all about her because I read her book ;).  She's the sweetest soul and her passion for those kids inspires me beyond words.  Kim...thanks for being you!

2.  The Teachers Are the Real Deal
These teachers sing, dance, stand on their desks, have fun, and REALLY engage their students.  The teachers don't take any crap from the students and for that...the students show respect to their teachers! I had the chance to watch my good friend Hope King teach and can I just say... she is phenomenal.  I just watched her with my chin dropped because not only was her Alice in Wonderland themed classroom fabulous, but her students were so dang smart. They were having a blast singing a song about Fairy Tales to the tune of "The Hanging Tree" from the Hunger Games.  Talk about ENGAGING!

1.  The Students Seal the Deal
These kids are phenomenal! When you walk into RCA, multiple students greet you with a firm hand-shake and eye-contact.  They ask you about where you are coming from, what grade you teach, and why you're at RCA.  Students at RCA don't just "talk" to you...they engage in conversation.  At lunch the students were even asking me about Whole30 because they know that "Mrs. King is doing that Whole30 thing too!"  These kids come from all different backgrounds from living with relatives, to middle-class.  Some students come in preforming so far below grade-level and they leave (in 8th grade) to preforming high above. They work hard and they play hard.  The students say "yes sir" and "yes ma'am". I just wanted to hug every. single. kid. (but I didn't because I'm no creeper). After a day full of school (singing, dancing, rigorous instruction), the students all gathered to cheer on their girls and boys basketball teams in their brand-new gym! It was UNREAL! We stood and cheered the whole time because when Mr. Clark tells you to stand up... you stand up!

Book your visit today!

Books to read to tie your over until your visit:

Here are some snapshots of our weekend in Atlanta:

I feel so blessed!

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