By Keiona Johnson, CNN
“Here’s the issue we have with education in our country. Educators go to college for four years, get a degree and they sit in a classroom and teach for 30 years. Rarely do they ever get out and see what’s going on in other peoples classrooms and so, we're just creating this cycle where we're not having anything new. There’s no growth, no development. So what we do at the academy is we let people come and see excellence… If you don’t see excellence, you don’t know how to get there.” – Ron Clark
(CNN) - Recently, CNN got an exclusive look into Ron Clark Academy’s world-renowned educator training program in Atlanta. On that day, nearly 120 teachers traveled from near and far to experience what one educator described as a “spiritual awakening.”
Created in 2007, the academy is a school and dedicated educator training facility that has welcomed nearly 15,000 educators from around the world. The one and two day sessions are filled with excitement – from bungee jumping in the morning to dancing and sliding in the afternoon. There’s also lots of walking on desks, beating of the drums, poetry and rapping! Participation is often required for those in attendance, as they learn how to incorporate music into the classroom, implement games to help promote student engagement and other creative learning techniques that steer them away from “teaching to the test.”
“What we do show educators when they come, is how to have eye contact with kids, how to ask questions that are really higher order thinking questions, how to develop relationships, how to build bonds with parents,” says Clark.
The lessons are taught by the academy’s ten national award winning educators, including co-founders Ron Clark and Kim Bearden. The school’s many smiling students are also encouraged to greet and mingle one-on-one with their visitors. There’s never a dull moment!
Once educators complete the program, they gain online access to the RCA Great American Teachers’ Club, which features downloadable lesson plans, chat forums and other exclusive teacher resources.
Ron Clark’s next educator training will be held in mid-September.