Last updated: August 24. 2013 7:24AM - 174 Views

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LIMA — Jumping up on a table as if an entertainer Wednesday, Ron Clark went about his speech to area educators much like he does teaching a classroom full of middle school pupils.

With his stories and music, he had the room of mostly adults captured and engaged. It was the perfect lesson on what has earned him fame and teacher of the year recognitions.

“We set the tone,” he said. “If you are energetic, then those kids are going to be energetic. I look at the kids and say this is a future dentist … a future president. If you believe that, the kids are going to believe that themselves.”

Clark, who was the subject of a 2006 television movie starring Matthew Perry, spoke at the UNOH Event Center. He’s written several books and appeared on countless television shows, including “Oprah Winfrey.” Quest Academy brought him to Lima.

Co-founder of the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, Clark is known for reaching at-risk children and seeing results, including in a school in Harlem, where test scores of a class at the bottom level eventually exceeded even the school’s gifted pupils. All 37 pupils graduated high school and 27 of them are in college.

Clark began teaching in rural North Carolina because his “mama made” him. He turned test scores around there, and then headed to Harlem after hearing about a school with low test scores and a teacher shortage.

A deal that if he mastered double dutch his pupils would work harder, and an exercise that had Clark chugging chocolate milk until he vomited were just a few antics he used to reach pupils.

Cark told teachers Wednesday that he brings what his pupils are interested in into his classroom. That might mean turning a popular song into a lesson in algebra, or having pupils Twitter each night about a novel.

“They love their phones, they love to text, so I bring that into the classroom,” he said. A song pupils wrote about last year’s presidential election has gained international attention, although the pupils’ knowledge of campaign issues was most impressive.

Pupils at the Ron Clark Academy, a school for fifth- through eighth-graders, will visit six continents before they finish. The academy also offers training workshops for teachers.

Clark promotes a family-type atmosphere in his classroom, where pupils support each other and applaud their successes. His class rules are big on manners and respect. He also involves parents, visiting the homes of every pupil before the school year begins and holding weekly meetings to teach parents math. His home visits focus on the positive, not negative.

“If you have a bond with those parents, the rest of the year is so much easier,” he said.

Clark blends his philosophy of loving pupils and making sure they know he’s in charge. He admits it’s not always easy, telling a story of a troubled pupil he didn’t like all that much. Yet, he loved him and gave the pupil what he needed to succeed.

“On the inside I would say, ‘Oh, crap,’” Clark said of when the pupil arrived each day. “But I would say, ‘I’m so excited you’re here. I have your seat right here.’”

“Like them or not, it doesn’t matter, you have to teach and love them all.”

Teacher brings energy, strategies to local educators

Teacher brings energy, strategies to local educators

Teacher brings energy, strategies to local educators
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