Motivational Speaker, Educator Ron Clark Plans Albany Address

Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, Dougherty County School System sponsor event

ALBANY — As educators, government officials and business and community leaders struggle to find new ways to reach and have a positive impact on Albany-area youths, there is a growing realization that strong leadership, both in and out of the classroom, may be the answer.

This month, the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the Dougherty County School System, will offer a “Summer School” featuring a keynote address and a teachers-only work session with best-selling author and motivational speaker Ron Clark.

Known to many as “America’s Educator,” Ron Clark is the 2000 Disney American Teacher of the Year, a two-time New York Times Bestselling author, the subject of a television movie and the founder of The Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta. Clark is regularly featured on network and cable television (The Today Show, CNN, Oprah) and was dubbed by talk-show host Oprah Winfrey as her first “phenomenal man.”

“Ron Clark is an educator, but his leadership model and highly motivational message transcends all sectors and is of benefit to schools, businesses and organizations,” Barbara Rivera Holmes, president of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce, said. “The chamber is proud to partner with the Dougherty County School System in presenting our “Summer School: An Evening with Ron Clark” program to Albany and Southwest Georgia. This is a highly motivational program that focuses on leadership development and emphasizes the important relationship between business, education and the community.”

In a statement released by the chamber, Clark wrote, “I couldn’t be more excited to come to Albany. Many leaders from the area have attended my sessions in Atlanta, and I’m looking forward to reconnecting with them. Also, to have the opportunity to visit Southwest Georgia and be part of an event that is drawing educators from 10 counties across the region is a phenomenal opportunity. I can’t wait.”

Holmes said teachers and business leaders from throughout the region are expected to participate in the event,.

“I want to stress that this is a far-reaching regional event,” she said.

The event also is timely. “Summer School” is coming to Albany just as teachers are preparing to re-enter the classroom and at a time when business leaders struggle to find new ways to educate, empower and employ the next generation entering the work force.

“The Dougherty County School System is thrilled to welcome Ron Clark to Albany, and we hope educators all over Southwest Georgia will participate to learn how to take Ron’s style and success and replicate them in their own classrooms,” new Dougherty County School System Superintendent Ken Dyer said.

From humble beginnings in rural North Carolina to the heart of New York City’s Harlem District, Clark has overcome barriers and faced the challenge of reaching difficult, hard-to-reach youths. His story was deemed so inspiring, it became a made-for-TV movie.

“The Ron Clark Story” is a 2006 television film that premiered on TNT in August of 2006. Based on Clark’s real-life experiences, the movie centers on a teacher from a small town who moves to New York City to make a difference in the lives of his students. The film was sponsored by Johnson and Johnson and stars Matthew Perry as Clark. The film received largely positive reviews and was nominated for three Primetime Emmy Awards. Perry, for his portrayal of Clark, was also nominated for Screen Actors Guild Award and Golden Globe awards.

The film also was translated for television in Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Sweden and the Philippines.

As a young teacher in the 1990s, Clark pioneered innovative projects in rural North Carolina while working with minority students in a low-wealth area. His highly effective programs garnered national attention and led to a White House invitation to be honored by the president of the United States.

Upon watching a television piece chronicling low test scores and the lack of teachers in inner-city New York, Clark packed his car and moved to Harlem. After being warned by the principal that his class was the least disciplined group she had seen in years, Clark prepared himself by visiting the home of each student before the first day of school. Clark also involved his students in projects in the city and state, and his “low achievers” soon began to excel.

By the end of his first year teaching in Harlem, Clark’s students’ test scores were higher than the “gifted” classes in his district.

In 2003, Clark released the New York Times Bestselling book “The Essential 55” which includes his 55 expectations of students — as well as all individuals, young and old. Clark’s second book, “The Excellent 11,” was released in August 2004 and further captured the attention of parents, educators and students alike.

In 2007, he founded the Ron Clark Academy. To date Clark has trained more than 25,000 educators from 42 states and 22 countries at the school’s home base in Atlanta.

The academy is a privately-funded institution known nationwide for its innovative teaching methods and curriculum based on worldwide travel. Each year students in grades 5-8 apply their in-class lessons to international adventures. And, by the time of graduation, each child will have visited six of the seven continents. Teachers from around the world visit the academy to observe the innovative and “out-of-the-box” methods for achieving student success.

Clark has continued to publish in spite of a busy teaching and travel schedule.

”The End of Molasses Classes: Getting Our Kids Unstuck — 101 Extraordinary Solutions for Parents and Teachers” was published by Clark in 2011. This New York Times bestseller brought to light 101 innovative and classroom-tested ways for improving America’s schools and leading children to greatness.

In another best-seller, called “Move Your Bus,” Clark challenges readers to imagine their company as a bus filled with people who either help or hinder the team’s ability to move it forward. His book identifies “runners,” who consistently go above and beyond for the good of the company; “joggers,” who do their jobs without pushing them­selves; “walkers,” who are just getting pulled along, and “riders,” who hinder success and drag the team down. And as the boss, it’s the “driver’s” job to steer the organization, encourage the workers to keep the “bus” moving, and sometimes kick off those who aren’t pulling their weight.

In “Move Your Bus,” Clark teaches strategies and techniques to inspire employees and team leaders alike to work harder and smarter, to maximize team performance, and to take organizations wherever leadership wants them to go.

“Ron’s illustration of ‘Move Your Bus’ has impacted schools across the nation, and to have the opportunity to sit under his teaching could drastically impact education in our own community,” Dyer said.

Clark said his lessons apply to people from all walks of life.

“Anyone who has attended our training sessions in Atlanta knows that my philosophies apply to anyone, not just educators,” he said. “How great is it that the Albany Area Chamber and Dougherty County School System are partnering to create a business and education collaboration? I think it is a wonderful idea, and I am thrilled to a part of it.

“I think it is refreshing and truly terrific to see businesses wanting to work together with the school system. This collaboration could be transformational for Albany and the surrounding areas, and I’m hopeful that the leadership practices that I’m going to share will help fuel the partnership even more.”

The event is scheduled for July 20 at the Albany Municipal Auditorium. A business cocktail hour will precede Clark’s session at 4 p.m., followed by Clark’s keynote address at 5:30 p.m. Teacher-only breakout sessions begin at 6:45 p.m. Tickets are $25 for teachers, $35 for chamber members and $45 for general audience, and may be purchased at the Albany Area Chamber by calling (229) 434-8700.

For more information on “Summer School,” contact Mary Beth Hobby at (229) 567-5100 or To learn more about the Ron Clark Academy, visit

(Albany Herald)