Ron Clark continues ASI lecture series

Jan. 31, 2018 | ASI |

“It’s not about you — it’s about what you can do to make other people feel special.”

Those and other challenging words encouraged and inspired students, educators and guests Tuesday night as nationally acclaimed author and world-renowned educator Ron Clark took the Benson stage to continue the 2017-18 American Studies Institute distinguished lecture series. The presentation was also part of a teacher appreciation event honoring educators.

“People who are successful take time to look you in the eyes and make you feel important,” Clark said. “When you make time for people, that’s going to cause you to be successful.”

Known to many as “America’s Educator,” Clark is the 2000 Disney American Teacher of the Year, two-time New York Times bestselling author, and founder of The Ron Clark Academy — an inner-city Atlanta school unique for its innovative teaching methods and curriculum. His high energy presentation had him moving all over the stage and through the auditorium as he shared experiences in the classroom and challenged educators.

“If you’re gonna walk down the hall, walk down the hall and smile. You’re gonna walk down the hall anyway,” he said. “If you want to connect with people … if you smile when you do it, there’s going to be a better connection.

Amy Simpson, principal of Elm Tree Elementary in Bentonville, Arkansas, made the almost four-hour trip to Searcy for the evening event with 12 others from her school. Simpson said the group traveled back together in three cars and were texting about the event until 2 a.m.

“Ron Clark is a very respected and esteemed leader in the world of education,” Simpson said. “He is transforming the lives of students all over the world, and we want to learn from him and be inspired to do the same. There were many takeaways from our experience: Make people feel special and they will do anything for you. It is easier to build a strong child than to fix a broken adult. Do not waste a day of this short life being plain bread when you can be pizza. Get busy making a difference and making it big for kids.”

In addition to honoring teachers at the event, the American Studies Institute also awarded Donna Edam, kindergarten teacher at Augusta Elementary, a prize package of tuition for two teachers and one administrator from her school to attend a one-day educator training session at the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta. Kim Kirkman, director of the American Studies Institute, said the event exceeded her expectations.

“The audience was on the edge of their seats as Ron hopped, danced and rapped his message into our hearts — modeling his unique, effective teaching style,” Kirkman said. “He lived his advice as he looked into eyes of his fans — some waiting more than two hours to meet him — and asked about their lives. I am confident many classrooms look and feel a little different today.”

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