By KELLEY R. CANADAY
CHEROKEE HIGH SCHOOL
Award-winning teacher Ron Clark spoke to Cherokee Central Schools on Tuesday, Aug. 5 as part of the annual back-to-school professional development.
Clark captivated audience attention by demonstrating his dynamic out-of-the-box approach to teaching. He encouraged educators to “stir up the dust” in the classroom by climbing up on chairs or desks, moving around the classroom, interacting with students one-on-one, making eye contact, and using facial expressions, voices, costumes, and storytelling.
His message to educators was to be a “runner,” which is someone who always looking for ways to enrich their students, school and community. These people take action. Sometimes they make mistakes, but they learn from them and keep moving. The key to successful education is support. Teachers should encourage their students to support each other in and out of the classroom. They should also take a vested interest in getting to know their students as well as lifting up other teachers. Finally, administrators were encouraged to support teachers because “teaching is the hard” Clark said.
“Be happy and believe in them,” Clark said.
Sharon Bradley has been with the school for 18 years and found Clark to be “encouraging and inspiring.”
New Cherokee High School principal Deb Foerst commented, “Nearly every single one of my teachers left the program excited for the school year and ready to implement his strategies in the classroom.”
Known as America’s Educator, Clark received the 2000 Disney American Teacher of the Year award. The New York Times named him as a bestselling author for his work The Essential 55: Everything you need to help your child succeed in school which has sold over a million copies in 25 countries. His other works include The Excellent 11 and The End of Molasses Classes.
He has appeared on The Today Show, CNN and Oprah. In 2006, Clark’s teaching experiences in a school in Harlem were the subject of a TV movie called The Ron Clark Story, starring Matthew Perry. Many teachers at Cherokee Central School have seen the film and were glad to hear he was coming to speak.
Clark has used the proceeds from his fame to create a school in Atlanta, Ga. that utilizes innovative teaching strategies to help students excel beyond standardized test scores and become leaders. The Ron Clark Academy is all about putting the fun back into learning while raising the bar of expectation. Several times a year he invites educators to come and observe and study these techniques to take back to their classrooms.
Assistant Superintendent Beverly Payne shared, “I would love to see some of our teachers have that opportunity to learn these valuable techniques and bring their experiences back to share with the rest of the teachers here. Teachers seem to learn best from other teachers.”