Beyond the 15 Second Video You Watched 10 Times

There is a good chance that within the past 72 hours you have seen or heard about Ron Clark and a handful of the Ron Clark Academy students breaking the internet with their #DoItLikeMeChallenge dance. It’s been covered by CNN, People Magazine, CBS Nightly News, Huffington Post, Complex – just to name a few. People from all walks of life and from around the world have commented – mostly positively – about how it is refreshing to see a teacher connect with his students and show that kind of energy in the classroom. Many commenters have said how they wish they had had a teacher like that when they were in school. Can’t argue there.

What you do not see, however, in those 15 seconds is that Ron Clark, the students, and the staff of the Ron Clark Academy is a complex beast. Yes, there is dancing, singing, and endless energy and passion that goes on. But there is also rigorous coursework, strict discipline enforcing manners and respect, and constant reinforcement of the skill sets that young people need to be successful in life. In my years working at the Academy, I had the pleasure of being a part of many of the exciting moments where celebrities stopped by the school or a video became popular on the internet (though nowhere near as big as this one). But I also had the honor of taking the students to national and international Model United Nations Conferences (see pictures below), where the students competed (and won awards) against some of the top middle and high school students from around the world in political and societal debate. I also am proud of coaching the first LEGO robotics team at the school, which made it all the way to the Georgia state finals. There is a national award winning step team at the school, which has won back-to-back titles and not only competes but has a big focus on community service as well. I have had the pleasure of seeing our alumni represent themselves in academic, social, and athletic successes in their high school and college careers beyond their days at Ron Clark Academy.

So as you think “I wish I had a teacher like this” when I was in school when you watch the video, implying one who can dance and be energetic, I also hope in the same breath that you would want a teacher who made sure you were performing your best at every moment academically, socially, and behaviorally as well. That is just a snapshot of the complex beast of the Ron Clark Academy. If you’ve never visited the Academy, I would definitely encourage you put it on your bucket list! You can find out how to do it here.

Prague, Czech Rep at the Yale International Model United Competition

Istanbul, Tukey at the Hisar School Model United Nations Conference

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