#49 - America's top educator Ron Clark on making school exciting for your kids

January 2, 2024
Ron Clark

Episode Summary

This week on The Aro Podcast, we’re honored to have Ron Clark, known as “America’s Educator,” share insights from his teaching journey and the evolution of Ron Clark Academy. Ron dives into his unique philosophy of bringing learning to life, sharing what sets RCA apart from traditional education. Joey and Ron discuss the delicate balance between overscheduling and challenging kids, exploring what parents might be doing right or wrong in this tug-of-war. Their conversation also touches on the impact of technology on children’s behavior inside and outside the classroom, with Ron offering practical advice for parents. Ron shares wisdom on nurturing kids’ self-esteem with intentionality rather than generic praise and gives a sneak peek into the future of Ron Clark Academy. Don’t miss Ron’s parting advice for parents, offering a simple yet powerful way to make a positive impact on their children.

Spotify Icon- Radio Webflow TemplateApple Podcast Icon - Radio Webflow Template

Watch the Conversation

Episode Transcript

Ron Clark (00:00):

They asked me, they said, do you want to come to the movie set? And I was like, well, I'm too busy. I was like, honestly, I don't think I can. And they said, well, what if we fly your students out too? And I was like, okay, wow. I said, now we have a deal. And so the students who played my students in Harlem, actually, they got to meet each other, which was pretty neat. But I think, yeah, I grew up in the country, didn't have any money growing up. I think I still, I'm just that person still teach. I still grade my own papers to this day. And kids that will humble you.

Joey Odom (00:43):

Welcome back to The Aro Podcast. Hey, it's your good friend, Joey Odom, Co-Founder of Aro. Happy New Year. It's 2024. So excited you're here. So excited for this year ahead. I'm feeling very, very optimistic and I hope you are too. And to start off the show, I want to talk about 2024, and I want to give you a thought when it comes to resolutions, because we all talk about resolutions and I've found in the last couple of years, everybody starts kind of talking down on resolutions. It's almost like talking you out of making resolutions. So it's a funny little thing when it comes to resolutions. We have an interesting relationship with them as a society. But my guess is if you're listening to this podcast, you're giving some thought to 2024 and what's going to happen there. And I want to give you a thought.

Instead of thinking through what we're going to accomplish or who we're going to be, I want to give you a thought instead of that to think, who am I becoming? Not what am I accomplishing, not who I am, but who am I becoming? And on top of that, we probably have other people we're responsible for or we are in relationship with. So who am I helping others become? Who are they becoming as a result of me? So I want to think through that and whatever your answer is, that could be fitness, that could be spiritual, that could be relational, whatever it is, I know that's going to require presence and intentionality of you and of me. So you're on this journey with us. We're on the journey with you on The Aro Podcast. I'm glad you're listening. And what we want to do this year through the Aro podcast and through Aro is to come alongside you to be here, for you to give you help.

The Aro Podcast is here to help you get the tools and the inspiration to live out an intentional life Aro as a company, we're here to help you put down the greatest possible distraction in your life, which is your phone, not just to put down your phone, but so that you can become what you want to become. So we're here for you. You may be an Aro member already. That may be, while you're listening, you may not be an Aro member, which is totally fine. We believe that Aro could be such an enhancement for your life, but not just joining Aro, but all of these tools that we're going to give you through the podcast or Instagram feed, we want you to be part of that. And if you'd like to join Aro, we would absolutely love that. We do know that it's the greatest tool towards presence and intentionality by helping you putting down your phone so that you can become who you want to become.

And there are a lot of exciting things happening there. So it's going to be an amazing year, but I want to leave you with that thought that think about who you're becoming. Don't think about necessarily achievement accomplishment, but who am I becoming and who am I helping others become as well? I have one thing to ask of you and it'll just take four seconds, will you pause really quickly and just hit subscribe to The Aro Podcast? That makes a huge difference for us. We want to bring you the best tools. We want to bring you the best guests. We want to bring you the best content that will help you along in your journey and that comes through listenership. So will you subscribe to the Aro podcast right now? That's all we ask. We would love that and appreciate that so much. Today we have just a great episode.

It really filled me to the brim. Ron Clark. You probably have heard of Ron Clark. He's been on Oprah. He's one of Oprah's good friends. There was a movie made about his life and his journey as an educator. Ron is from North Carolina. He went up to New York inner city schools with this belief that his approach to teaching could make a difference in kids' lives. And it absolutely has. He went down, he started the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta. He is an absolute inspiration, but it's not. What's cool about Ron is it's not all hype. It's not all dancing and noise. He has substance behind him. Heath Wilson, Co-Founder of Aro, he and I had a chance to go to Atlanta, to the Ron Clark Academy to sit down with Ron and talk with him and get his thoughts on raising children up and on technology and just hearing his motivational story, knowing that that's going to give you inspiration, motivation as you're raising kids as well.

I want to describe really quickly what it's like to go to the Ron Clark Academy. This is like nowhere I've ever been. This is in a very rough part of Atlanta and I lived in Atlanta for about a decade. This is an area I had never been, but you go to the Ron Clark Academy, and I'm not kidding when I say it's like walking into Hogwarts. They've put so much intention into this facility. You walk through these halls, it is absolutely beautiful. It's amazing what they're doing there. And it's with the goal of not just raising up the kids there, but then giving a model for others throughout the country. So they have teachers, Ron talks about this, educators all throughout the country come to the Ron Clark Academy to see this model to go help kids and the kids there are impressive. At the end of the show, after the interview with Ron, I'm going to tell a little story about my interaction with one of the students. Wow. It's just great. I'm really excited for you to hear this story and I want to encourage you, if you have the inclination to give towards the mission of Ron Clark Academy, I would encourage you to do so. It's a great facility, but they are obviously, they want to make sure that they continue to spread this word of how to raise up kids and how to educate kids and create them into really hold people. So for now, sit back, relax, enjoy my amazing conversation with the incredible Ron Clark.

Alright, gang. How did an East Carolina pirate become a Harlem Shaker and then become America's educator and then the founder of the best school in the country? Well, he danced and he taught and he wrote and he loved, he's ended molasses classes. He's moved buses and he is slide certified. He's rewritten Rihanna, so you can do math. He's written rewritten ti so you can vote. Oh, and did I mention the legendary Matthew Perry depicted him in his biopic, a little company called Disney, called him the National Teacher of the Year, and his friend Oprah calls him a phenomenal man. I would join this survivor's alliance any day and I'm honored. He's joining us today on the Aro podcast gang. I bet you can't do it like him. Please welcome Ronald Lyle Clark Jr. AKA Ron Clark.

Ron Clark (07:21):

What? So that's the best intro ever.

Joey Odom (07:23):

Best. That's it. I

Ron Clark (07:25):

Love it. My name's Ronnie Lee Clark

Joey Odom (07:27):

Jr. Ronnie Lee Clark. Wait, hold on. Was Ronald Lyle Clark Jr. Incorrect. I'm

Ron Clark (07:31):

Not sure who that is, but I'm Ronnie Lee Clark Jr.

Joey Odom (07:34):

Wikipedia, we got some work to do. I know.

Ron Clark (07:37):

Oh, they also say I was born in 1972, which That's a lot though. That's a lot. I'm going to let that one

Joey Odom (07:42):

Go though. We're not going to say Ronnie Lee Clark. We're going to let the record shows Ronnie Lee Clark, for those of you Wikipedia editors out there, let us know.

Ron Clark (07:49):

My dad would care.

Joey Odom (07:50):

I would imagine. So

Ron Clark (07:52):

That was the best intro ever.

Joey Odom (07:53):

That's very nice of you. Did you write that? I did write that. That's

Ron Clark (07:56):


Joey Odom (07:56):

Well, I really do mean this is, I've spent the last, spent about six hours yesterday prepping for this. And Ron I, I mean it. I just sat and cried watching videos. I'm getting choked up now watching videos. I'm curious, why does this, what you've done, what Ron Clark Academy is doing, why does this evoke that emotion in people? What is it about what you're doing? Why does it make me cry? Why does it make other people cry?

Ron Clark (08:28):

I think perhaps it's because when someone has a dream that a lot of people believe in, then a lot of people start to share the dream. And when a group of people come together to make magic happen, you can change lives. It's just kind of like the butterfly effect. I had this little idea, but then I found out a lot of other people had the same idea and we thought, what if we all come together to pull our resources and our energy, we can change the world. And then it happened and it changed kids' lives. And that's magical.

Joey Odom (08:56):

It is magical. Heath and I, Heath Wilson, our co-founder, he and I were driving up today, and this is in an area of Atlanta. I lived in Atlanta for a decade. I'd never been down in this area. It's not an affluence area of Atlanta. It can be a rough area in some areas. And we just looked and I mean we said, how did you see this gift of you seeing what wasn't, but what could have been? And you just mentioned it is absolute magic. Walking through the halls here, it looks like we're in Hogwarts. It's really, really incredible. There's no question there other than just to say it is. And it does evoke this emotion in people.

Ron Clark (09:28):

I place a lot of stuck in feelings. If you have a feeling intuition, I'm like, let's just go for it. You may be wrong, but let's just, if you're going to live, live, if you're going to be here, be here. And when we were looking around trying to find a place to put a school, we looked all over Atlanta and some people said to us, you need to put it in a really nice area. Said these kids from poverty get an opportunity to go to a really nice area. And I said, well no. I said, what if we go to where the kids are? Why don't we go to an area that has some challenges then if we're really successful at building this school, it could change that whole environment. And then this was at the time the second highest crime rated area of Atlanta. And so we were looking around and we found this nasty factory. There were drug houses on either side of it, there were street walkers in front of it. And I said this, I said

Joey Odom (10:15):

This, the school,

Ron Clark (10:16):

We're going to turn this old factory into the school. And so a lot of people said we were crazy, but I said, no, if we do this, think of what we can do to this neighborhood. And now we're not even in the top 20 roughest areas in Atlanta. Really? So it's changed a lot. That's amazing. We have a ways to go still, but

Joey Odom (10:31):

It's changed a lot. Not there. Alright, so I want to go back to you've told your story a million times and I do think it's important to talk about your story, but I have a question I want you to lead us up to. You get to Harlem, you have this idea of how things should go, but how old were you at the time when you got to Harlem to teach?

Ron Clark (10:52):

Gosh, I was like 28. I had started teaching in North Carolina. Never expected to teach. No one in my family had ever gone to college. I was working at a Dunking Donuts and a teacher at a local school passed away. I had just graduated from East Carolina University. My mom twisted my arm and told me I should go talk to this principal. I didn't want to do it, but I go to the school and the kids were throwing paper and the substitute teacher's wig was off to one side and she was floundering. And this little kid goes, is you going to be our new teacher? And like I said earlier, if you feel it, just kind of go for it. And I'll say, I guess so. And the next day I started teaching and I just tried to make it exciting. I ate lunch with the kids.

I used music in class. I visited their homes. I went to their basketball games. I tried to make it hands-on like when we did the math problem of the day, which we all had to do, instead of doing it on paper, I blew up balloons and the kids had to work it out with magic markers on balloons. They got to sit on the balloon and pop it if you got the right answer. So I was just trying anything that was different. At the end of the year, I had the highest test scores in the building and the principal was like, that's so awesome. Well there's a teacher down the hall named Tracy Arnold and her scores weren't good. And she said, what am I doing wrong? And I said, I'll mentor you this year. And so I helped her the whole year. At the end of the year, she and I had the highest test scores in the building and the principal said, Tracy, you did it.

How did you do this? And she said, I just did what he told me. And the principal said, I want everyone to do what you're doing. So it took us four years, whatever, four years. We went from being the lowest scoring school in the county to being the highest scoring school in the county out of six schools. And that's when I had this idea. I was like, if it worked here, what if these methods could work everywhere? Let's bring learning to life. Let's make it exciting. I want kids to want to come to school and to understand it's not about a test, it's about an educated mind. Sees the world differently. You can have deeper conversations, you'll understand references in movies, you can really understand the books that you read, deeper conversations with your loved ones, just all kinds of things. So that was the idea. And I had this dream. I said, I want to start a school where every teacher teaches like this. And then we invite people to come to learn about these methods and techniques that we're doing. Had no way to do it. But I was watching a TV show and it showed schools in Harlem that had violence, never crowded classrooms and a lack of teachers. And I said, Lord of mercy, I know these techniques work in the country. I wonder if they'll work up in Harlem. So I just drove up during the summer to Harlem. Is

Joey Odom (13:16):

That true? Is there any hyperbole there? You actually just, I'm just going to drive, pack up

Ron Clark (13:19):

And drive to Harlem. I packed up my car and I drove to Harlem. I did not have money to stay at a hotel. I said at the YMCA, I was just like, do. And if you have a dream, it helps to be a little naive. Being a little naive when you jump into something helps a lot because if you really know all the crap you're about to get into, a lot of people probably wouldn't go forward with trying to make their dream happen. So here I am, do go up to Harlem, get to the school, there's a fight in the doorway, help break up the fight. And I said, this is just it. This is it. I started working at the school and it was rough. They made a movie out of it that it's rough when they have to make a movie. So it was rough.

But I use my same methods. My methods are basically relationships with kids. I make learning. I engage with the students throughout the lessons. Then the key to it is that I make it really hard. My content in my classes, it is rough. I want my students always drowning. I want them always drowning. They constantly trying to struggle to understand what's going on. I don't want them on the bottom of the ocean floor drowned. You don't want 'em dead. But I don't want 'em sitting on the jet ski either. And as I visited all 50 states, we went to 300 school systems to learn what is really going on in classrooms in America. Kids in America are sitting on jet skis and yachts to chilling it are not being challenged. Our country is currently 41st in the world in math and science in terms of test scores.

So in America, we're teaching a dumbed down. We're not challenging students. And so I flipped it and I said, I'm going to make it harder than anyone could ever expect. And I feel like if I've got relationships with these kids, they trust me. It's energetic. There's music and energy and it's active. I think these kids will get there. And that's why I've had so much success in my career is because of a blend of, it's really hard, but it's fun and their relationships. So eventually my method started to spread When I was in New York City, I was named the American Teacher of the year. I got to be on the Oprah Winfrey show. And that's when Oprah said, you should write a book. And when Miss Winfrey tells you to write a book, you write the book. So I wrote a book about 55 expectations I have for parents, for things they should teach their own kids and things that teachers should teach kids in schools. And when the book came out, Oprah made it one of our book picks and that's when we had the money, all the money went into a foundation and we used that foundation money to buy the old factory in Atlanta to build the school. Joe, I'm sorry, there's a

Joey Odom (15:48):

Long answer. No, there's so much in there. This whole idea of, I mean people had to think you were nuts for one, but then you had, and it's one thing to go from, you knew East Carolina, you're from East North Carolina, so you knew that area. And then you said, okay, would it work in Harlem? How was that met as you started to do that? Because when you say and you engage and you build relationships, that's quite the understatement. You really do go fully all into it. So what did that look like? Did people look like at you in Harlem? You were just a lunatic?

Ron Clark (16:24):

Not to my face, but so when I got to Harlem, they told me, you're going to have the worst class we've ever seen at our school, 37 kids discipline problems. And I was like, I like need to go visit these homes. And that was different. I was contacting parents and no one goes to do that. And I was like, can I please come visit? A lot of 'em said, we'll let you know. And then eventually some said yes. And then after some said yes, the others said yes, eventually I visited all the homes. So I think it's really important to work with a parent, explain, here are my expectations. Well, later at the end of the year, after everything had gone great and all the parents loved me, by the end of the year they said, we have a confession to make. And I was like, what? They said, we had a nickname for you. And I was like, what was it? They said, the white tornado. And they said, because you came up here like crazy, wanted to visit our houses. We're like, what is this man trying to do in our houses? We didn't trust you, but we all were keeping a close eye on you. But then we saw how genuine you were and what you're trying to do. We wanted to help you.

Joey Odom (17:24):

The white tornado, I like that. Gosh, I wish I would've had that for the intro. That would've been good. Good stick.

Ron Clark (17:29):

No, I don't tell that story, but yeah, that's what they called me.

Joey Odom (17:33):

When you developed the essential 55, that was how many years after you'd been in Harlem?

Ron Clark (17:38):

Yeah. So actually Central 55 started developing in North Carolina. It

Joey Odom (17:42):

Did. Okay. So it was early

Ron Clark (17:43):

On. I had discipline problems there too. There are discipline problems everywhere, but I felt like if you want kids to be successful or if you run a business, if you want anybody to be successful, I think the number one most important thing for a leader or a teacher, clarity, be very clear with people about here are my expectations. Here's how I would equate success. Here's what I need you to do. When you're clear, then you can hold people accountable. With my students, we had this rule at the school, it was called the Golden Rule. Do unto others as you have done to yourself. That was the rule. But I was like, that doesn't mean anything to these kids. I need to break this down. So I really wrote down everything I expected of them from if someone bumps into you, here's how you should handle this.

Here's how I want you to turn in your homework. Here's how I want you to greet me when you walk in my classroom. And just everything about how to be respectful, how to be cordial, head of manners. And so I found that once I role-played and explained these rules to the kids, the class changed, discipline problems stopped. I was like, well, this is amazing. No one had just ever really been clear with these kids about how to handle these situations. So then when I got to Harlem is when I said, you know what? I'm going to put this in a binder. That's the first time it looked like a book. It was a binder of these 55 rules that we played and roleplay and practiced and I shared with parents. And then when Oprah heard about my binder, that's when she was like, I want these 55 rules in a book.

Joey Odom (19:08):

What did you find the differences in the kids in Eastern North Carolina and the kids in Harlem? Are these, when we talk about kids, and again, these are totally different geographies, totally different upbringings. How different are kids? How different were those kids from each other?

Ron Clark (19:24):

It's funny. Kids are pretty much the same everywhere. Just sometimes their environment would lend them to maybe be a little bit older or more mature. The kids in Harlem were much more mature than the kids in Eastern North Carolina just because of their environment. I mean, I saw kids six and seven years old taking the subway by themselves to school. I was like, what is going on here? It would snow a blizzard. Funny story. So in Eastern North Carolina, we have hurricanes all the time. Hurricanes all the time, and it's no big deal for us. But if it's going to snow, even a little dust of snow, schools cancel for a week in North Carolina. So I get to Harlem, there's a blizzard, it's a 12 inch blizzard, and I'm like, I know we don't have school tomorrow, but they had school and these kids would just truck through the school snow and they would get there.

And I'm like, wow, these kids are much more mature the way they're handling this. They know exactly how to handle the snow. But then there was had a hair came watch and New York City, which they never have. They closed school for two days. I'm the only one that showed up for school. I'm like, you closed school for this. But anyway, but the kids in Harlem were really much more mature around the edges in terms of North Carolina. If I said, come on y'all, let's sing this song. The kids would do it in Harlem. I'd be like, now let's get down to some presidential learning. And they looked at me like I was crazy. So in Harlem, I just had to build their trust a little bit more. And then once they relaxed, then they got into it. But that was the main difference.

Joey Odom (20:50):

When you talk about the rigor, the academic rigor that you implemented, instituted, there's this, as I talk to people, I hear now people say, oh, kids are so overscheduled. Kids are, oh kids, we need to let 'em breathe. We need give 'em a break. There's a little bit of, it seems like there's maybe a little bit of a tug of war versus what you're saying and what other people are saying, oh, they're being challenged too much, or they're too, do you think this overscheduling, maybe the question really is what are parents doing wrong or what are they doing right here when it comes to how they challenge their kids? I, I mean, I agree with you. I think the more rigor it tells a kid that I can do this myself. Is that the basic philosophy of it?

Ron Clark (21:31):

I think I know exactly what you're getting at. When I say I make it harder, it's more challenging. I'm not saying more homework.

Joey Odom (21:37):

Okay, got it. Got it. So that's

Ron Clark (21:38):

Why parents would typically hear, it's a hard school, more homework. As I went across the nation, I realized some schools were giving kids tons of homework, and I really looked at it. I'm like, oh, this is busy work. This is just taking a lot of time. This is jumping through hoops. This isn't really academically challenging work. So here at our school, if a kid's in fourth grade, you have 40 minutes of homework, sixth grade, 60 minutes of homework, eighth grade, 80 minutes of homework. But the work that we do in our classes and what work they are doing, it is higher order. It is really complex. Got it. It's challenging, but it doesn't mean it's more busy work. So the kids still have plenty of time to play sports, be with friends, but when we are working, we're down to our business. I got you.

Joey Odom (22:19):

That makes sense. So you meet Oprah, you have a movie made about you. One of the biggest stars in that moment was Matthew Perry. He's absolute legend. Was there a moment where you started feeling this sense of, I don't even know how to ask this, a sense of self-importance. Was it hard to temper down the pride in that moment of I'm all over, people recognize me, I have big stars who know my name, who are depicting me in movies. What was that process like for you personally going through that when you began just to help the kids and all of a sudden you're on the national stage?

Ron Clark (22:53):

Well, as a teacher, kids will humble. You quit. So I don't know, while that's going on, I'm still grading my own papers. I'm still visiting homes, still having kids be disrespectful at times. So I think that probably helped. They asked me, they said, do you want to come to the movie set? And I was like, well, I'm too busy. I was like, honestly, I don't think I can. And they said, well, what if we fly your students out too? And I was like, okay, wow. I said, now we have a deal. And so the students who played my students in Harlem, actually, they got to meet each other, which was pretty neat. But I think, yeah, I grew up in the country, didn't have any money growing up. I think I still kind of, I'm just that person still teach. I still grade my own papers to this day. And kids, they will humble. You

Aro Member (23:47):

You can put your phone down. The world will keep spinning. It's okay if you're not updated every single day about that influencer's pregnancy, that you actually don't know her in real life. She can go along and have the baby without you knowing, and it's going to be all right. Honest to God, I feel like that was a big issue for me as I was like, well, what's going to happen if I'm not up to date with all of these things? Well, guess what? Then you're up to date with your own life. That's the most important thing. The age that my kids are in right now of being so little, we're in that watch me phase, right? We're in that, watch this mommy, watch this mommy. And it's like, oh my God, you're doing the same thing that I watched you do five seconds ago. But that's important to him. And it may be annoying, and I don't know what that's like with a teenager. Maybe it's still another version of watch me, maybe just quieter. It's being said differently. And I think arguably because it's being said more quietly, it's easier to miss.

Joey Odom (24:42):

We love hearing stories from the Aro community. The one you just heard actually comes from our Voices of Aro episodes where I sit down with Aro members and they share about their stories and their lives with Aro. Make sure to check out the Voices of Aro episodes, and if you're a member who would like to share your own story with Aro, please email us stories@goAao.com. The philosophy of Ron Clark Academy. I'm curious, and you probably have addressed this before, why is it, why have you decided just middle school, it's fourth to eighth grade, people can apply in third grade? Correct. And that's it. That's your chance to get in. Why did you decide specifically on that? Have you considered expanding it before or after those ages?

Ron Clark (25:28):

Sure. So in America, test scores for all kids on average increase up to fifth grade. So for example, all Caucasian females increase in test scores on average up to fifth grade. All Asian-American males up to fifth grade. After fifth grade, every cohort group declines except for Caucasian females. So they keep going up, they're doing something right, but the rest of us, we kind of start to tape off on average. So we wanted to study what is wrong with this time period in a child's life? Why is this middle school time period so difficult? I think all of us, everyone listening probably has some horror story from their middle school years. And we thought, how can we make this a magical time where kids really grow a love of learning and not grow a hatred for school? When I was in Harlem, we used to do a lot of work with ninth graders who were potential dropouts.

And in talking to those kids, the reason they wanted dropout had nothing to do with ninth grade or high school. It was like a lack of skills that they didn't get in middle school or things that they lost their love of learning throughout that time period. We visited lots of elementary schools in America that I was happy with. We visited some high schools in America. I was happy with, we visited over 100 middle schools and there was not one middle school that when my team and I left, we said, that's a great place. We found unhappy kids, teachers that had lots they wanted to complain about. So we thought, what if we build an example to show people what middle school can look like and how magical it can be? And if other schools will copy this model, we could really change a lot of lives. That was the idea.

Joey Odom (27:01):

Can you explain the, and again, no, again, I spent a bunch of time yesterday, but walking this halls, there's no way to capture what this place is like. And I haven't even seen the kids yet. I mean, we just walked through the halls. It really is like Hogwarts. Will you explain the magic of Ron Clark Academy to someone who's never been there? Will you just try to give a few minute description of what this place is?

Ron Clark (27:21):

Sure. So it isn't an old factory in South Atlanta. It's 111 year old building. But what we did was we said, why don't we turn this into the most magical school ever? I go to Coca-Cola, I'm thinking they're going to give us a million dollars, and they gave us a thousand dollars.

Joey Odom (27:38):

Did they literally give you a thousand

Ron Clark (27:39):

Dollars? A thousand dollars? Which it's nice. I appreciated it, but I can't build a school with a thousand dollars. And so that was kind of what we got from a lot of people. A lot of people, I think they heard this dream. I said, I'm going to make this school for kids and we're going to take 'em around the world. It's been incredible. It's like Hogwarts. I think a lot of people were thinking, this is never happening. They would just give a little donation. So we backed up and we said, why don't we make a booklet where we tell people, you can sponsor a kid's backpack, a kid's shoes. You can do a kid's desk, you can do the carpet for a math classroom. And I had this booklet and I asked people to go through and shop and what would you do? Over 3000 people bought something from our little book.

And that's how we kind of pieced our first, that warehouse together. And that concept has kind of grown where we ask people, no one needs to give a big donation if we all do what we can do. And then some big donations come in, of course, because some people can do more than others. But if we all do what we can do as a community, we could build something magical. So when people come to RCA, they will see flying dragons. Dragons that fly through the ceiling. You will see trap doors, secret passageways. It's magical. It's even better than Hogwarts in many ways. And a lot of it is themed off of. As a kid, I love Star Wars elements in the building. It's an amazing place. But why it's beautiful to me is everywhere I look, I see someone's generosity. Cornerstone Masonry did the brickwork in this room. Mannington Flooring gave the carpet, Mr. Totem did the artwork. Promethean gave the technology. So when you look around our school, people say, it's so pretty to me. I see just generosity now. Of course, Coca-Cola, they're a big sponsor now, which is awesome. They sponsor for Atlanta's public school teachers to come to our school to be trained, which is great.

Joey Odom (29:22):

That's a big piece of RCA, right? Is bringing in That was your vision from the beginning is getting other teachers in here to see what you're doing. I'd love to hear some of the success stories from that. People coming in, teachers seeing it, and then going and taking to their

Ron Clark (29:33):

Homes. So the whole idea for the school was I wanted it to be a model. I wanted people to come watch and learn. So when we built our classrooms, we put 12 stadium seats in the back of our classrooms because we thought, oh, what if we have 12 people come, we've got to have seats for them. The very first training day, we said people could come. We had 60 come. And so I said, we're going to need more chairs. And so now we have 800 a day, which is pretty

Joey Odom (29:58):

Incredible. 800 a day, 800 people every single day coming,

Ron Clark (30:03):

Not every day. Normally every week. I'm on average, it's like 600 to 800 a week.

Joey Odom (30:07):

That's unbelievable.

Ron Clark (30:08):

And pretty much every week they come, come from all over the country, all 50 states. They come from China, Finland, Russia, India, all over South America. This is the only place in the world where you can get what we offer. We are the center for innovation and creativity for the world. People come here because it's the only place you can go where you sit in a class and you watch incredible teachers who are the best in each of their fields, teach in a way that is unique and different. You watch how they handle discipline problems, how they challenge gifted kids, how they get kids motivated. You're in the class with the kids and the teacher. It's a powerful experience. And you asked for a couple of examples of success stories. Like I was just at Ity primary school in North Carolina, and they started coming here eight years ago for help and to get trained on how to use our methods.

They were just named as the second highest score in elementary school in the whole state of North Carolina. There was a teacher called Marissa Torres in Texas. She went to her teacher, principal to quit in December. She said, I can't do this anymore. I'm done. He said, if you'll stay till June, I'll send you to RCA to our school for two days. I know you wanted to go to one of their conferences. She said, deal. After two days, she came up to me and said, I know what to do. Now you've shown me what I need to do. She went back and changed her whole classroom, her whole methodology. She used our methods, and the next year she was named as the Texas Teacher of the Year. So when people come here, it's a powerful experience. You see, it's a paradigm shift. You see different ways to teach to motivate kids. We give you the skills and the techniques you need to help kids be successful. Then they go back and they improve their schools. So we have 120,000 educators who have been here, and we are having this ripple happen across the country of great things because of what started here.

Joey Odom (31:53):

Even with that, do you or in the funding and Coca-Cola gave you a thousand dollars when you had this dream, you saw something, you have something works here, but you open the newspaper, you hear nothing but bad stories. You drive through the neighborhoods, you see all the need out there. How do you handle, do you feel discouraged? You're one of the most positive people anybody's ever met, but do you feel discouragement? And when you do, how do you combat that? And maybe this is more a question for myself or the listener, and you just say, yeah, there's some good stuff happening, but when you look at the need, it's, it's still so huge.

Ron Clark (32:27):

People have asked me that question before in different ways, and I've never had this problem. And I ask myself, I wonder why I don't have this problem. Because when you teach, you've got kids that you know are going home to really challenging environments, and you've got kids that you wish you could help and you can. And you've got kids with disabilities, and it is a lot to wear, and a lot of teachers will go home and wear that. I think for some reason, I've always felt it, but I've never worn it. I think because I think I always tell myself, God's probably not going to give me any more than I can handle, and God probably doesn't want me to do everything. He probably wants me to do my part. So I say, I'm going to do my part, and I'm going to try and do my part darn well. I'm going to do all I can. But if you go home and wear all the problems of the world, you'll be so depressed that you won't have the energy to do anything. So I think that kind of helped me.

Joey Odom (33:21):

Yeah, for sure. The motto of RCA that I love is very simple. It's just no fear. Will you tell me just broadly about how you arrived at that, what that means to you, why that's important to you, how that implements, how that reverberates through the school?

Ron Clark (33:34):

Yeah, personally, it's important for me. I think living a life with no fear is important. When I was a kid, some of my family members who passed away, I had a hard time dealing with it and had an uncle say to me, they're not coming back. But you know what? One thing you can do for them, you can live your life in a way that honors them. They don't have opportunities, but you're going to get a lot of chances and a lot of opportunities. I think when you get 'em, you should go for it. Not only for you, but for them too. And it really just stuck with me for some reason. And it's just always, it's something I've revisit a lot. And so I've lived this life of you got to have no fear. You got to just go forward. And this is an opportunity.

Others aren't here for this opportunity live. Take this moment. And so when I teach, it's one thing I wanted to teach my students, because kids these days are so afraid. First of all, bullying is rampant. It's not cool to be smart anymore in school. And so kids are terrified to speak up, to do well. They're terrified of what their peers think. So I thought if we can build a school where we eliminate that problem, there's no fear, there's no bullying. Kids can speak up with confidence. If we can create that environment, these kids are going to be so much more successful. And so that was the rationale behind the motto. I

Joey Odom (34:45):

Love that. How have kids in the last 15 years, let's just even, we talk about technology a bunch on here. And so this question isn't specifically related to technology, but we've heard since the iPhone was released fifteen, sixteen, seventeen years ago, that educators have seen a shift in kids' behavior. Have you seen a shift? Are kids different today than when you were in Harlem in 2000 or when you started an RCA? Are kids the same or are they different? Has this caused a shift that we're not recovering from yet? What is the landscape like of kids right now?

Ron Clark (35:16):

It scares me. It's one of my biggest worries really with working with kids because on that tick a talk. I mean, it's like one second, one second, one second. If you don't have my attention for one second, you flip it, you flip it, you flip it. So these kids are on TikTok where it's like this constant, constant gratification, and they're on it for four or five, six hours a day. And then they come in my classroom and I really want to have this in-depth conversation about Julius Caesar, and I'm trying to get 'em to focus, and they can't. Kids have lost the ability to memorize and adults have as well, because when I was a kid, if you wanted to learn something, you had to find the encyclopedia, you had to look up, and then you had to commit it to memory. And you never knew if you're going to have an encyclopedia around, so you had to memorize it.

Kids these days, it's just on the phone. If you want to know someone's on the phone, you're teaching your brain, I don't need to commit this to memory because my phone will always be here. So we're losing that ability. So I'm seeing kids are losing the ability to memorize and to retain information in class. But those two things are horrible. But it's not the worst part. The worst part is the bullying. So bullying face-to-face is harder. Bullying over technology is much easier. You're not looking at someone. And so kids will make group chats where they will be absolutely horrible to each other. They'll make fake accounts. They'll trick each other mean things. They'll post mean pictures of each other, and it's all across the nation. It's horrible. And so I'm really concerned with what it's doing to our kids. So what do we do? Yeah.

Well, we don't allow phones At our school. We just said, Nope, not going to have it. And if I see a phone, I take it and the parent has to come pick it up, and if I see it again, I'm going to hold it for seven days. And parents said, well, that's our personal property. I said, well, that's why we got to make sure that I don't see that phone. So if they don't show me the phone, I won't take it. It's up to them to show the phone or not. Because we had to find a way to squash it. So we squash it here in our school. But we were just visiting a school in Texas, and we were watching the 11th grade teacher teach in the back of the class. Kids were on their phones and he's trying as hard as teach this lesson.

We're observing this lesson. He's trying hard to do a great lesson. Kids don't care. They're on their phones. It's so disrespectful. And parents will say, oh, well, they're focused. And it's just that no, they're not. They're on their phone. So I think not allowing them in schools to be seen, I think that's step one. And then parents doing a better job of monitoring their phones. And all parents think their kids are good and all kids are good, but all kids can be really naughty too. And all kids make these fake Instagram accounts called FTAs. They've got the one you see. Then they've got the feta, the fake Instagram account, and all of them have the fake one. They all do. Even the good kids. Trust me, we've been through this and when I tried to explain to a parent, your child probably has fake, oh no, my child would never, yes, they do. So parents being more diligent about checking their kids' phones and knowing what's going on. Oh, and look in your kids'. Go to your kid's phone and look in the calculator because the fake calculator links to the fake Insta. That's how you find it. It's the fake calculator. There are a bunch of kids listening who are

Joey Odom (38:34):

Mad at you right now. So you just hold on all of 'em. My kids, Harrison and Gianna are probably very mad at you. My kids just because I'm going to go check their calculator, so I'm going to get

Ron Clark (38:42):

Home. But I don't think they have to worry. I don't think the parents listening are even going to check it. I'm doubtful they're even going to check it. Even when I tell my own students', parents, you need to life. They're busy and they don't. But you've got to be hypervigilant with that social media because bad stuff's happening there.

Joey Odom (39:03):

That sounded to me like a challenge. You just challenged all the listeners to go check their kids' phones just as basic as that. I mean, really, literally. I mean it's, and I've gotten even lax on checking at night, checking the group text every day. That's what parents should do is they should go on and they should check the group text every day. They should go on and check the apps. They're a way, I know the kids can kind of mask what they see on their phone, but go check what the actual apps are on their phones. The parents are very involved at RCA, isn't it? Don't they have to volunteer 40 hours per year? All the parents, every parent, 40

Ron Clark (39:36):

Hours. Most parents here only pay $45 a month for their kid to come. And we cover all the travel, all the clothing, all the supplies, everything. But the parents do have to work 40 hours a year at our

Joey Odom (39:48):

School. And the tuition is $18,000, a higher 20

Ron Clark (39:51):

If you were going to pay. We do have a few that are full pay. Most of our kids here are from an income level where the parents pay $45 a month. We do have a few who pay $18,000 a month.

Joey Odom (40:01):

Okay. Do 18,000 for the school year? Yes. Okay, got it.

Ron Clark (40:05):


Joey Odom (40:05):

About that. Are you able to be as direct as you just were with the parents? I don't think you shy back from being direct and saying to the parents, you got to be on here. You got to be checking this. Can you have those open conversations with the parents of rca, a students on technology?

Ron Clark (40:19):

I'm very direct with them because I know this is good information. It's something I will want someone to tell me. So I'm very direct. And whether they take it or not is up to them. But I do share it with them and hopefully they'll take the information. And then also, I'm very direct with 'em with other things as well. I do workshops for the parents where I say, let's say for example, I give you a detention, your child of detention, and you want to text me this, Mr. Clark, why would you give my child an attention? He said, he didn't do anything. You're picking on my child when you want to say that. How about then I show them another example. I say this instead, Mr. Clark, I hope you're having a good evening. John said, you gave him an attention. I was hoping you could share the details behind this so that I will understand if I need to give him more punishment at home. Thank you so much for your, so I say both ways will get you what you want, but this is the way to handle it. So I try to teach parents how to advocate for their kid, not only for why they're here, but when they leave rca. I think that's helpful too. I love that. Whether they take it or not, it's up to them. But I share,

Joey Odom (41:23):

Well, you are raising kids and you think everybody listening here, for the most part, people are raising kids and they're trying to be good, intentional parents. And in excellent 11, one of your books you released originally in 2004. In 2023, you talk about the qualities teachers and parents use to motivate, inspire, and educate children. So when raising children, I've heard it's said about you, the heart of a great teacher in dealing with so many parents. Will you tell us what you see in the heart of a great parent?

Ron Clark (41:58):

Yeah, I think someone, of course, who loves their kid unconditionally, but also who realizes their child isn't perfect. The parents I love working with are parents that realize, oh, my child's not perfect. What did he do? And they trust me. And if I say, he's starting to bully some kids or he's doing this, parents are like, Mr. Clark, we're going to handle this. Thank you so much. Not parents who push back and has another teacher seen this happen, or maybe other kids are bullying him. Some parents try to make excuses. Raising this coddled ified generation of kids in America where everything's all about the self-esteem of the kids. And with babying the kids, we're raising a really soft generation of adults who don't have a work ethic and who don't really know how to dig deep and be successful. I think it started in the early 19. When were you

Joey Odom (42:51):

Born? 1980.

Ron Clark (42:52):

Okay, so you won't remember this. In the early 1980s, I used in the seventies, I used to sell bushels of potatoes on the side of busy highway at age of seven. And it was a different day and age. But then in the early eighties, people started poisoning Tylenol because used to when you would open Tylenol bottles, there was no protective covering. There was no cotton. It's just the pills. You could go in to pick a wiggly, take out a pill and close it up if you wanted to. So anyway, so people were poisoning Tylenol and people were dying. Kids were dying across the country. And then we had a Halloween where people across the nation were putting razor blades and carme candies. And so parents freaked out about this. It was this whole big deal. And I think it was the start of parents pulling their kids closer.

Lemme protect my kid more. And this whole thing that started then, but has continues at the point now where these kids are ified and coddled. And if you tell a kid as a teacher, you're being disrespectful, I need you to dah, dah. Parents will say, don't say that to my child. Don't say that to my child. You're going to hurt his self-esteem. So teachers in America have been so bothered by parents saying stuff like that, that some of them have left. We have a shortage of 300,000 teachers in America right now because left the profession. Or teachers have said, you know what? You're all geniuses. You're all so smart. Aren't you all wonderful? And that has led to this codified generation and has dumbed down education system we have where we're 41st in the world in math and science, and it's a crisis. How are you going to be number one in the world in technology and number one in infrastructure, economy, military 41st and math and science. That's the true indicator of your future as a nation.

Joey Odom (44:37):

So the concept of self-esteem, is the issue that we're aiming towards self-esteem, or is it the way we're trying to get to, I would assume, and maybe I'm wrong, is self-esteem important to begin?

Ron Clark (44:52):

Yes. So at our school here, we do a lot to build, but we're very intentional. You only praise kids when they go above and beyond. When they reach a goal, when they're making progress toward a goal, it's very intentional about, it's not just blanket praise. I'll give you example for our soccer team, the soccer coach, we gave him money to give the MVPA trophy and the most improved student a trophy. He wanted to use the money to get everyone a little medal. And I said, no. He said, well, they all tried. I said, I know, but this is capitalism. We're teaching kids. The MVP most improved. Let's give them, he said, I don't want to do it to parents. Don't make me pick. Can you just please let me give everyone a little medal? And so this concept of everyone gets a cookie, everyone gets a medal. Let's say everyone feel good about themselves, even when they might not deserve it. That's what we avoided our school praise when it's earned here. We give it in big ways, but you're not going to get blanket praise

Joey Odom (45:49):

For a parent listening and they want to implement this themselves. I think you've just given the answer, but what are some ways, even from right now, that parents can begin to implement this in their home where you actually are building sustainable with maybe resilience? I assume that's the combination you're looking for. What about the parent listening? How can they begin to implement exactly what you just said in their home today?

Ron Clark (46:12):

A couple of quick ways. Well, when you go to your kids' football game, don't blame the coach when things don't go well. That's good. Put the blame on the kids, the team. Don't put the blame on the coach. Don't tell your kid you're going to have that coach's job. Don't tell your kid, oh, that coach has favoritism. All those little types of things starts to bleed into a kid's mind that, oh, it's not me, it's someone else. It's not my fault. It's the teacher. I didn't get picked. If your child's artwork doesn't get picked by the teacher to be displayed, it's not the teacher's fault. It's the kid's fault. So instead of saying whether you know, that teacher has favorites, maybe say, well, how could you improve on your art next time? What could you have done differently? Do you think they would've made that a more appealing piece of art? It's little simple things like that.

Joey Odom (46:57):

By the way, a lot of parents would cringe at what you just said, really? I think so. They would recoil and say, well, I don't want to hurt their feelings. That their picture. I mean, that is, you're right, the codify. And by the way, the coddled world, I believe I probably would have a little bit of that. And we're pretty, our kids are 15 and 13, but we've done a pretty decent job, I would think of pushing back and not blaming, but even that, that still goes against your impulses. I think the impulse of a lot of parents to, well, I don't want it to hurt their feelings.

Ron Clark (47:25):

Well, I would do it this way. Let's say your kid comes home. My artwork didn't get picked. I'm really upset about it. I'd say, well, I really like it. I think it's really beautiful. If we really want to make sure next time you make it even better, do you have any ideas how you could even make it better? That's good. Maybe say it like that or something.

Joey Odom (47:41):

Then it does. It makes them feel like they're capable I think that's part of it, right? Isn't it? Just like, oh yeah, I can come up with a solution myself. I'm sorry, I cut you off before you were going to go to another one. Another way to implement a home.

Ron Clark (47:53):

Maybe sometimes if a kid comes and they show you a grade or something, maybe instead of commenting on the grade, focus less on the grade and say, are you proud of this? What's your favorite part of what you wrote here? Are there any areas that you think you could have improved? Maybe focus on the work and how it can be better. Are you proud of it? What part do you like the best that you did instead of having the conversation so much about a grade that the teacher gave.

Joey Odom (48:18):

Yeah, I like that. Little things. Okay, so in the excellent 11 there, and this is just Ron Clark is you begin with, these are again, 11 qualities. The first one is enthusiasm. You always begin with enthusiasm. And as I was doing a bunch of research yesterday, I picked up my kids from school and I decided when they got in the car individually from their sports, so they were individually when they came in, I decided I was going to greet them with enthusiasm. I'm relatively high energy to begin with, but they got in and I started tickling them and I started giggling and a lot of times it's just, but they started laughing right along with me. It was almost magic to see what happens. Will you talk about this of all, I wanted to go through a few of them, but just let's begin with enthusiasm. Tell me why that's so important, why it's so magical, why it's such a cornerstone of what Everything that you do

Ron Clark (49:06):

Well, it's contagious and I think as a parent, your child is going to feed off of your energy. And if you're stressed, if things are bothering you, you may think your kid doesn't know. Your kid knows your kid can feel it. For example, in the morning when you're taking your kids to school, you're rushing, let's get breakfast. I'm trying to be a good dad, a good mom. Let's hurry up. Oh my gosh, we're going to be late. Okay, I got them there. I did it a minute on time. They got through the door. What you may not realize is that kids come in our classrooms and they are frazzled the first 30 minutes. These kids can't focus. They're frazzled from that morning. So making sure that you're setting the right tone in the morning, good energy, everything's laid out, shoes are ready, it's organized. Make sure we get there on time.

Kids get in and it's not that frazzled type of energy because whatever your energy is, kids are going to feed off of it. And also just being enthusiastic for learning. As a parent, when you are excited to learn something, you're watching a movie with your kids and something comes up, oh, dah, dah, dah. In 1949, this happened. Pause it. That is fascinating. I've got to find out right now. What was that meant? Was that a real person looking it up? Just showing that intellectual curiosity to your kid, being excited about that. I cannot wait to go to the museum on Friday. I'm counting down my days. Day 4, 3, 2, 1. We're going to get to go see this. Just the energy to learn, the excitement for knowledge. I think that's a great gift we can give our

Joey Odom (50:30):

Kids. I find as a parent, and I wonder if teachers feel the same In some ways I feel almost this need to relate to my kids, which in a way makes me take a bit of a posture of maybe aloofness in a way. And I've noticed as my kids have become teenagers, but it's almost like rather than just trying to always relate to your kids, if you could just try to lead them, and I think this is one amazing way to lead it. You are. I mean, you're a thermostat, not a thermometer. Is that what they say? You're the one that's setting the temperature in the home. I think that alone. Do your teachers do all of them? If I were to walk in a classroom, do you have that infectious enthusiasm? Is that just a cornerstone that everybody here lives

Ron Clark (51:10):

By? It's in every class, but some people show it differently. I'm very extroverted. I'm going to jump on the desk, have some very reserved teachers in my building, but they're so clever and creative. Enthusiasm can be shown in different ways. It doesn't mean big personality, it just means a passion for life, a love of learning in whatever way your personality works. I did not know you had teenagers though.

Joey Odom (51:32):

I do. I do. And I got, yeah, the enthusiasm though. I feel like that just that there's, there's so much to get down about. You know what I mean? You can just bring a little bit of that spark and energy.

Ron Clark (51:41):

You're going through the rough years right now. Teenagers, they'll come back. The kid that childlike wonder used to love. Once you get through these years, this rough period, that kid does come back when you know that relationship will come back.

Joey Odom (51:58):

Luckily, so far they're doing great. They're good ones. But again, I think I can step it up more and more. Tell us, you've been RCA for 20 years, coming up on next year is 20 years,

Ron Clark (52:12):

2004 since we found the factory.

Joey Odom (52:16):

What do the next 20 years look like for Ron Clark Academy? You have intentionally kept it at the, you have a lot of people coming in. What's next? What's driving you? What's getting you excited for the next 20 years?

Ron Clark (52:29):

Yeah, so a lot, I'm older now. I'm 52, so I'm not like old.

Joey Odom (52:35):

You're not old now,

Ron Clark (52:36):

But I'm oldish. So how do we make this school sustainable so that when I'm not here any longer, this school will continue, the magic will continue the mission, the no fear, all of it continues to happen. So everything that I do now is basically cornered around that. We have different businesses that nonprofits that run in our school. We have an app that teachers use to track house points. We have a merchandise company. We have four other companies as well that just all involve around making this sustainable for the future. I want to grow it. I can have 800 educators come here a day. I want to have 2000 educators come here a day. I want to be able to affect the lives of you and more kids. So that's the goal. We've got some properties that we're trying to buy. It's difficult because when people know that want property, the property is priceless. So just trying to get those people to understand we're a nonprofit, trying to do great work here. Please work with us so that we can expand. Those are all things on my mind. Love

Joey Odom (53:37):

That. I want you to leave us with one silver bullet. You may have already given it to us, but this one thing that people, anybody raising a child, whether they're an educator, whether they're a parent, what can they do today that will have an impact on the kid? A greatest impact on the kids?

Ron Clark (53:53):

Oh gosh. Questions like this is so hard because it's kind of like

Joey Odom (53:57):

Big. No, you have to give the one perfect answer. One perfect. It could be the smallest.

Ron Clark (54:02):

Okay. Okay. Okay. I'm just going to give something manageable. That is powerful. As a teacher, when you're teaching your lesson, look directly into the eyes of every kid in that class, at least for a few seconds and hold it on that kid's eyes for a few seconds as you're teaching and make sure that you look every kid in the eyes at some point that day. If you can't do it during a lesson when they're coming in the door, out the door, just make sure every kid is seen. Why is that

Joey Odom (54:28):


Ron Clark (54:29):

As we went across the country and I sat in hundreds of schools in all 50 states, we saw teachers in America teach lessons. They're not teaching kids, and it's like it's all about the content or what's on the board, and then kids would just put their hoodie on and walk out and slump over. And I wish that you got to break the plane between you and the kid and look in their eyes and it's more of a conversation and the moment with the kid, then the content. So that's for the teacher, for the parent, and I'm just going to say, because I love my mom so much, this is something that she would do. I don't know if you could do this for your teenagers, maybe you could, because that sounds like you took 'em in the car. But every night when I would go to bed, my mom would go to tuck me in and it was my favorite moment of the day because my mom, I'd always leave my socks on because I knew my mom would take my socks off, so she would put me there and she would take my socks off and she would always act like she couldn't get them off.

It was really hard. And then she'd pull real hard, she'd spin around three times and fall on top of me on the bed, and I would just laugh. And it was every night. Every night. And just those little moments. So I know some of the parents are older, but make moments like that where it's just silly and fun and just a tradition that a kid may remember forever.

Joey Odom (55:50):

Man, I can picture that. I love that Ron. People will want to learn more about your work. They'll want to participate in the success of Ron Clark Academy. How can people most effectively support one? I would recommend they do go buy your books. There's a lot of gold in there. The essential 55, the XL 11. How can people support what you all are doing here?

Ron Clark (56:12):

Sure. If someone wants to learn more, they could just visit ronclarkacademy.com. But if you really want to have true impact, if you know a teacher, even your kid's teacher or a teacher in a local area, a family member who's a teacher, if you could send them to RCA pay for them to come, it's about $500 for one day training or a thousand dollars for two days of training if you could send them here to come to one of our conferences. And we have 'em pretty much every week, the whole year. Our school's kind of like Disney World for teachers, and it's kind of like life changing. When teachers come here, it gives some tips, skills, things they can go back and implement in their classroom to fake the lives of kids. That helps that teacher, but also it helps our school because the money goes to scholarships for kids. I

Joey Odom (56:54):

Love that. What a gift you can give to somebody for doing that.

I walked out of the Ron Clark Academy absolutely inspired and I felt like he gave some very, very interesting practical ideas on technology and raising up kids, and I hope you enjoyed that conversation. And I got a glimpse after the interview with Ron Heath. Ron and I were walking out, we're walking through the halls and we're standing there talking, and a young man, the seventh grader, he walks up and he goes, and this was just amazing. I couldn't believe this. He walks up, excuse me, I'm sorry for interrupting your conversation. Is this your first time to the Ron Clark Academy? He made direct eye contact with Heath and me smile on his face and Heath said, oh, I've been here before. I said, oh, I've not been here. And he goes, well, how are you enjoying your time so far? And we had a couple minute conversation with this kid who was so eloquent, so well-spoken, so confident, and this is a seventh grade kid who's having this conversation, a better conversation than most adults.

And as he walked away, this is where I saw the real brilliance of Ron Clark because the kid was still within earshot and Ron made sure he was still with earshot. And Ron said to us, he said, oh, Darius, he's a hard worker in him saying that. It was two things that stood out just in such an interesting way to me, in such a powerful way. One, he made sure that Darius could hear that. He made sure of it. And secondly, he complimented something not, oh, he's so smart, or, oh, he's such a good athlete. He said he's a hard worker. So Ron wanted to reinforce that thing inside of him that would make him successful, which was his hard work. And I guarantee you, when Darius heard that as he walked away, his chest puffed up a little bit, smiled probably came to his face because he was complimented.

(58:53)That third party compliment is such a powerful thing. So I want to give you a challenge for this week. Is there a way that we can do something like that? Whether it's making sure your kids hear you, complimenting them to somebody else or somebody at work, maybe feeling affirmed by you in an indirect way where they just overhear that. That's such a powerful way to brighten someone's day, but then also encourage the type of behavior that you think should continue in them. I'm so grateful for Ron Clark for his time, for what he's doing. I'm grateful for you for joining us today on this week's episode of The Aro Podcast. We got a great one. Next week, lead singer, one Republic Ryan Tedder, will be on the show, had a great conversation with Ryan. He's a multi-platinum producer, songwriter's, written for everybody, and it's a great conversation we have with him. Thank you so much. Happy 2024. I can't wait to see what we all become this year. The Aro podcast is produced and edited by the team at Palm Tree Pod Co. Special thanks to Emily Miles for video and digital support, and to our executive producer, Aro's own, Katelyn Farley.