State Farm Sponsors Trip for Lowndes County Teachers of the Year

| March 14, 2014

Ron-Clark-LSSLOWNDES COUNTY, GA – Twelve Lowndes County Schools’ teachers recently attended a one day training at the Ron Clark Academy as part of their Teacher of the Year recognition.  The trip was funded by a donation from local State Farm Agents Travis Pate, Paul Cribbs, Bubba Highsmith, Angie Crawford, and Brian Sumner.  The donation was given to the Lowndes Education Improvement Foundation (LEIF) whose board worked with the school system to coordinate the trip.

Teachers who participated in the trip are:  Amber Harris, Clyattville Elementary School; Lauren Rutledge, Dewar Elementary School; Heather Dailey, Hahira Elementary School;Karen Dasher, Lake Park Elementary; Shirley Young and Vanetessa Clemons, Moulton-Branch Elementary; Heather Epley, Pine Grove Elementary School; Ellen Hess, Westside Elementary School; Larry Green, Hahira Middle School; Sheila Cook, Pine Grove Middle School; John Newton, Lowndes High School; and Loran Brooks, Horizon Academy.   Also attending from the system were Lake Park Elementary Principal Julie Klein and Academic Coach Teresa Parkerson.

The Ron Clark Academy is a model school that accepts visitors from all around the world.  Their approaches are very innovative and out-of-the box, and they enjoy sharing their successful methods for instilling a passion for learning while also achieving high test scores. The academy is housed in a renovated red brick warehouse located in southwest Atlanta  and accommodates fifth through eighth grade students. Students are from low wealth to high wealth families.

Clark had planned to build the school for ten years before construction began. Along with the proceeds of his two books The Essential 55 and The Excellent 11, Clark raised additional funding for the project which eventually cost over $3.5 million. The academy opened for students in September 2007. Each classroom provides students with technology such as notebook computers, interactive whiteboards, digital cameras, projectors, and audio video equipment. In addition to the technologically-equipped classrooms, the school provides students with accessible amenities such as a recording studio, a darkroom, a two-story vaulted ceiling library, a gymnasium, and a dance studio.

Clark was educated at East Carolina University through the North Carolina Teaching Fellows program and accepted a job in Aurora, North Carolina upon graduation in 1994. Four years later he departed for Harlem to take a job teaching elementary school in an inner-city setting.  His success in Harlem was the inspiration for a movie – The Ron Clark Story.  Clark’s latest project is the Ron Clark Academy.   This quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson graces the front door of the school and, according to Clark, captures the essence of the spirit of the Ron Clark Academy:  “Do Not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

Lowndes System Teacher of the Year Heather Epley commented on the trip:  “Visiting the Ron Clark Academy was simply an unforgettable experience.  Ron Clark has a unique way of filling your bucket of passion for your job.  Believing in your students, bridging relationship gaps, striving for nothing short of excellence, and true motivation are just a few ingredients in his recipe for success-certainly something we can all attain.  While standing witness to some phenomenal teaching, it was also beyond refreshing to observe similar strategies that we implement here in our own Lowndes County classrooms.  We all have a little Ron Clark embedded in us.”

Source: Lowndes County School System Press Release

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