Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Ron Clark Academy... Excellence in Education!

Have you ever held a dream in your heart for years and years...and then had the opportunity to have it come to life?   My friends, that is exactly what happened to me last weekend.  I've been struggling for several days with how to put it into words so I can share with you all.  On Monday morning, one of my co-workers rushed into my room and asked to tell her all about my experience.  All I could say was, "I feel like describing my trip is comparable to visiting Heaven and then trying to put the indescribable into words."

Now this may date me a bit, but every word is truth.  I remember the year that Disney chose Ron Clark as their Teacher of the Year.   I remember reading all about it.  I also remember the very day that he first appeared on Oprah.   I remember where I was sitting as I watched the show...in awe of this great man. I remember the release of his first book...and his second appearance on Oprah.   I remember him sharing his dream to build his own school.  That very day I recorded on the "bucket list" in my heart that I would visit that school when it came to fruition.

...And last weekend, my dream came true.
I was given the opportunity to visit The Ron Clark Academy.

(Oh, you know...just Ron and I hangin' out after school!)

Now, I have heard Ron speak multiple times over the years at different educational conferences, as I am a bit of a self-proclaimed RC groupie, but visiting the academy itself took the "Ron Clark Experience" to the next level!  You know, like professional development on a bungee corded trampoline. {Uh...yah.  The RCA library truly has one of those!}


From the moment I walked though those Willy Wonka-like gates...it was MAGICAL! Now, I'm not going to do a play-by-play of every moment, as that may steal some of the magic and surprise from your own visit to RCA, but I will share enough to convince you that YOU MUST GO THERE FOR YOURSELF...SOON!   People, it will change your teaching-life.   If you are looking to reinvigorate your passion for teaching, it is simply as easy as clicking the link at the bottom of this post and doing ANYTHING and EVERYTHING it takes to make it happen!

We spent the day observing actual classes, attending workshops and getting to know the students. We learned all about RCA's "Essential 55" and we SAW them in action.  (Side note:  If you are a parent, these 55 rules will do wonders in helping you raise a wonderful, respectful child. BUY THE BOOK!)   It was an incredible, incredible day.  I learned so much that my brain ached!  I took mental notes, physical notes, took pictures, took videos, wrote and performed a "blues" song in one of the classroom cafes with my "peeps"...the learning (and FUN) was endless!   Retaining everything you experience is almost impossible, so instead Ron challenges you to find your own focus "take-aways."  Over the next few months, I'll be blogging about my focus "take-aways"...so stay tuned! 

Until then, enjoy some of the picture highlights of the RCA Experience!

Pictures of the new "wing."  {It's Harry Potter Style, y'all!}

(This is a wall in Mr. King's room.  Just one example of the incredible decor! BTW...He teaches with an electric guitar around his neck!  Talk about engaging and fun lessons!  Whew! Rock it out, Wade!)

(Quick pic of a few of us with Kim Bearden, co-founder of RCA in her classroom after a lesson.  This woman is inspiration personified!!!   I can't begin to say enough about her in this post... THEREFORE, I will be doing another separate post about what I learned from her alone! #bestwomanintheworld #iwantobehalfthewomansheis)

Officially "RCA Slide Certified!" 

Did y'all notice something I didn't mention yet??  
Like who I was blessed with sharing this dream experience with?!!

I was fortunate enough to share one of the BEST weekends of my life with some of the BEST teacher-bloggers in the world.  These girls are truly, truly some of the smartest, most passionate educators on the planet.   And BEST, BEST, BEST of all...they are sincerely some the dearest friends a girl can have! I've come to know them all over years of blogging, meet-ups and PD conferences and let me tell you...they are the REAL deal...hard-working, humble, genuine and kind!  

And to top it all off, one of these sweeties actually teaches at RCA!   The beautiful, passionate and oh, so talented Hope King teaches at RCA.   If you follow my blog at all, you know who Hope is!!  I'm always referring to her incredibly inspiring TPT E-book, Set the Stage 2 Engage! {Folks, if you are looking for a resource to help you take your teaching to the next, out-of-the-box level...snap it up now!!!)

Take a peek at her AWESOME classroom at RCA...

Above is a pic of Hope's classroom door!

(The crew just had to climb up into Hope's reading tree trunk reading corner for a pic!)

Don't you just love her "WONDERLAND" theme!   You should see it filled with articulate and bright children rocking out a story element rap to a rockin' tune! Talk about student engagement! So, so, so proud to call Hope my friend.  She is just brilliant!!!  You will get to see her when YOU go to RCA!   {Because I know you WILL! YOU MUST!!!}

**     **     **     **      **     **     **     **
And as if the visitation day was not enough... 
We had the pleasure of spending the evening with the staff and students at RCA for the grand opening of their new gym!  YEP!  We were part of the official "Dragon Pit" at the first basketball games in the new gym! #pinchme #isthisforrealz

{That handsome man to my left is Wade King, Hope's hubby.  He is also a teacher at RCA! Look for him and his rockin' guitar when you visit!}

{Check out this scoreboard!}

The "Dragon Pit" during a time out!  

Can you find me below??  
(Deanna Jump and I are the blondies a few rows under the "00" on the left side of the scoreboard!)

The basketball team entering the gym!  #NBAstyle
The RCA Step Team performing at half-time! #nationalchampions

WHEW!  All of that happened in one day, people!  #truestory

On Saturday, the girls and I spent the day sharing ideas, inspiration, and of course, shopping!


     We wrapped up our trip with a night out with Kim Bearden!  #superwoman

Finally, to these amazing women...I am blessed beyond words to have you in my life!  Thank you for your encouragement and support!  You are truly THE BEST!    Luv ya! 

Now I know YOU are feeling like you want to go and have the RCA EXPERIENCE  yourself, right?!

Well,  you CAN!!!!   Just click below to find a good date and get registered! Who knows, I might be there too! I'm already planning my next trip too! :) 

The Essential 55: An Award-Winning Educator's Rules For Discovering the Successful Student in Every Child
The End of Molasses Classes: Getting Our Kids Unstuck--101 Extraordinary Solutions for Parents and Teachers (Touchstone Book)
The Excellent 11: Qualities Teachers and Parents Use to Motivate, Inspire, and Educate Children


  1. I love this post, Holly! What an INCREDIBLE experience! I really hope to make it there someday!


    First Grade STARS

  2. Holly, I loved sharing this experience with you! It was so inspiring and I can't wait to go back!

  3. This needs to happen in my life. ...this is like the third time I have read this post... I may have a problem!!

    Smack Dab in the Middle

  4. The blog is good enough, keep up writing such type of posts.infinitelearningonline.com