POINT PLEASANT — Mason County staff members recently attended a one-day professional development training at the Ron Clark Academy (RCA).
Stacy Bissell, Ashton Elementary and Point Pleasant Primary School (PPPS) assistant principal, and Judy Browning, title one teacher at PPPS explained during training they attended workshops with several teachers at RCA and observed classrooms in action. At the conclusion of the day, Bissell and Browning explained, each educator who attended had the opportunity to be “slide certified,” which signified the educator stepping out of the box and not being afraid to try to new experiences.
Bissell and Browning said upon their arrival at RCA, the students greeted the visiting educators at the door and gave a brief description of the academy.
They explained Ron Clark addressed the visiting educators explaining the school and its beliefs. RCA follows the tenets of “The Essential 55,” which is a book written by Clark.
Bissell and Browning said African History and culture are emphasized in the students’ studies.
They explained the visiting educators were then treated to a special performance by the school’s step team, Bissell explained Clarke began this program when he was a teacher in Harlem.
Also, Bissell and Browning explained as part of the students’ study of African culture, they learn about the native instruments of Africa. Each class picks one student to be the class drummer which is also a strategy to keep their distracted learners better focused. Bissell explained the chosen drummer will drum whenever he or she feels it is appropriate during the lesson.
Bissell explained students enter into the academy in the fifth grade and are sorted into one of four houses, Isibindi, Reveur, Armistad, or Altruismo. She explained each house has its own unique qualities. The students remain in their houses all four years they attend, which is up to eighth grade. Bissell explained the students wear uniforms with their house crests and house ties.
Browning and Bissell explained 100 percent of the students go on to college and they get to visit six out of the seven continents to participate in service projects. They commented the students receive a top-notch education while also focusing on service outreach projects. The tuition to attend RCA is $18,000 a year and the student must live in Georgia. Browning and Bissell commented 90 percent of the students attend RCA on scholarship.
They explained all instructors at RCA are allowed to decorate their classrooms as they please and many of the classrooms incorporate their content into the decor. The themes of the classrooms range from Harry Potter to rock n’ roll to video games to Alice in Wonderland to superheroes.
Browning and Bissell shared they learned several skills while visiting RCA such as always staying engaged with students when teaching and incorporating a second level of understanding such as music or games during a lesson. Bissell added when playing games in the classroom an educator should teach to the highest student’s abilities and have no outs during the game, all students must answer the questions.
Browning stated, “It was magical…it’s a place where you combine love, because every child knows that they are loved, high expectations, academic rigor…it’s all interwoven.”
Erin Perkins is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (304) 675-1333, extension 1992.