Monday, August 24, 2009

Ron Clark and Oprah

Written Last Week, but posting the first day of school

Today I had the privilege of listening to Ron Clark, founder of the Ron Clark Academy. You might know him from his appearances on Oprah, various media outlets, and the movie based on his experiences, "The Ron Clark Story" starring Matthew Perry, my favorite Friend.

This is just one more example of how Oprah is always right.

Scoff if you will, but years ago, I saw Oprah interview this darling Southern boy who had made such a success out of a school in Harlem, New York that he won the American Teacher of the Year award. He inspired me then. Now that I've seen him in person, I want to drop everything, move to Atlanta, and convince him that he needs a full time choir director/piano teacher on staff. (Mom, if you're reading this, I'm just joking.) (Mr. Clark, if you're reading this, I'm so not joking.)

Other things Oprah has been right about:

1. Reading is fun. When Oprah decided that Americans needed to read again, we all did. Well, technically you all did, because I read all along. However, at Oprah's suggestion, I did vary my Stephen King/Trashy Romance diet with some Barbara Kingsolver and Lalita Tademy. And, you know, a lot of those books were pretty good.

2. Dr. Phil. I always tell people that I can't stand Dr. Phil, but the truth is I usually get advice on his show that totally makes sense for me. I'm sorry. It's a sickness.

3. Every celebrity breakup ever. Well, maybe not, but I personally knew the Brad Pitt/Jennifer Aniston marriage was over when Oprah, using her penetrating and deft interviewing style, asked Pitt about marriage and married life. His answer: "Well, it's great, it's a lot of fun, but I don't think there's such a thing as a lifetime of happiness with one person. I think you have to enjoy the time you have with someone, and then be ready for the next thing." Or something to that effect. How did Jen not see it coming?

4. Your bedroom should be a sanctuary. It sounds corny, but since I took the time to really clean and organize our bedroom, there is a sense of peace and relaxation there that I swear was not there before. Oprah, of course, recommends a complete redecoration for the whole "sanctuary" thing to be complete, so Sven... (cough)

I could go on, but I won't. (You're welcome.) But I have to tell you how inspired I was by today's talk. Mr. Clark is an energetic, goofy, lithe man who bounds all over the stage and has an expressive, mobile face. He is the antithesis of "passive." I've been going to these "Welcome back, now get inspired!" meetings for a long time now. Here's a sample of some of the other things I've heard:

1. Unintelligible mumbling about Los Angeles
2. How China and India are going to drive us all into homelessness and we can't stop it
3. How self-esteem is imaginary and we shouldn't cater to it
4. How test scores don't matter, but here's how you raise them.

I could go on, but I won't. (Stop it.) Fortunately, this year I got to hear Ron Clark, which meant I got dinner (a lot of good, substantive ideas for classroom management and instruction) and a show (Mr. Clark's humor and genuine feeling). What a treat! Although there was nothing said specifically about fine arts, I'm already imagining how I can incorporate some of his techniques into my classroom.

If nothing else, I can bring the enthusiasm. Come on, kids. I'm ready.



Mr. and Mrs. Nurse Boy said...

I hope you have a WONDERFUL first day!! Starting off a new year on a clean, inspired, slat is the best!!!! I miss teaching this time of the year. Now after Spring Break... that is another story...

Mrs. Nurse Boy

Barbaloot said...

I saw that show on TNT and loved it! Loved it so much sometimes I cried.

Sneaky Momma said...

How awesome that you got to see Ron Clark! His story is so inspirational, so motivating. I avoid watching his story on tv, because (dear heaven) I may just want to return to teaching. :)
Have a great year, Deb!

susan said...

I'm having a hard time picturing you unenthusiastic to begin with, but if Ron inspired you to be a bit more Debish hooray! I would love to take a Choir class from you and an Icons of Reality Television Class. Maybe I'll move to Texas and enroll.

Have a great first day.

Kristina P. said...

How do I not know who Ron Clark is?!?!

And Dr. Phil? Really? I want to punch him in the face!!

The Domestic Flunky said...

He was our special speaker last year.... did he tell the "and they were all accepted into the most prestigious NYC private school on full scholarship" story?!? That, seriously, still gets me all choked up!!!

Deb said...

Kristina, it's my deepest, darkest secret. I dislike Dr. Phil to the point that I would voluntarily eat one of the baby cakes on your blog before I watch him...but every time I watch him, I have an "aha!" moment that sticks with me...

RainhaDoTexugo said...

I love Ron Clark! I saw him speak at a conference for future teachers, maybe six years ago (pre-Oprah, I think), and met him afterward. I have a photo with him somewhere, and an autographed copy of his book :D I'd never heard of him at the time, but he really is just so inspiring. If I could be half the teacher he is, I'd be thrilled :)

Did he tell the Dunkin Donuts story?

Deb said...

I don't think I need to look that up!

RainhaDoTexugo said...

I'd paraphrase it for you, but it's been awhile since I heard it, and even if it was fresh in my memory, I could never tell it like he does. It was seriously one of the funniest things I've ever heard in my life. I hope you can find it!