The Ron Clark Story

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(c) 2006 “He believed in them when no one else would” is the tag line to The Ron Clark Story (Ron portrayed by Mathew Perry © 2006 Inspired to leave his small North Carolina hometown to teach in one of New York City’s public schools in Harlem, Disney’s 2000 Teacher of the Year, Ron Clark, uses his enthusiasm, creativity and passion to reach his toughest students.

The Ron Clark Story is the true account of this innovative teacher, who strives to tap into his students’ potential, talents and abilities, gaining their respect and ultimately raising their test scores to the highest level in the school. I was really inspired to know that there are teachers like Ron Clark out there making a difference in our world with his “out of the box thinking.” I love the fact that he has focused on touching the lives of children in the high-risk dropout areas. He uses innovative teaching techniques and has 55 rules. (“The Essential 55,” describes the 55 rules and expectations he had of his students in Harlem and how he used manners and respect to help his classes achieve outstanding test scores.) With the proceeds from this book he purchased land to build an Academy where he can teach both students and educators using his methods.

Sometimes I believe that kids just need someone to believe in them no matter what. I remember when Michael and I first came to Moscow, Idaho three years ago. I was just building my practice up (again) but still had to pay the bills, so I did some garden work for a couple and also took on a job as a substitute teacher in the local schools. Since I didn’t have my teaching credential, I was only able to teach in the classes that contained “mentally challenged” and “slow” students.

One morning, when I was in a local grade school, the teacher had me tutoring a little Native American girl. I introduced myself and told her that I was also part Indian and shared a little about how it had changed my life for the better. We then worked on addition and subtraction exercises. I finally said to her, “I don’t get it. This seems to be really easy for you. Why are you in the slow class?” “I don’t know.” She said shyly. Because she seemed bored, we pushed onto the next unit with the time we had left (which she also did quite well with.) We ended up the next hour by doing a timed reading test. I thought she did great and told her so.

After the class was over the teacher called me back to her desk. She wanted to make sure I had done the reading test correctly (I had) and sat there in silence for a minute before asking, “How was it that she read 2 ½ times faster for you than she has ever read or me or anyone else?” I shrugged my shoulders. (I was thinking, “Because I didn’t label her as slow or stupid and allowed her to believe in herself?)

The Ron Clark Story is a great movie. The bonus segments are almost as inspiring as the movie itself. Rent it and watch it! Better yet, invest in a child and make a donation to his academy. Here’s the link:

Two other must-see movies we really enjoyed this month are An Inconvenient Truth (the movie about global warming) and Christmas in the Clouds (filmed at Robert Redford’s resort).