It’s being called, “like no other school in America,” a transformative journey from middle school student to super-achiever. At the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, ‘skipping school’ is not part of the kids’ lexicon. Kim Bearden and Ron Clark, co-founders, shared an enthusiasm and love for molding kids into exemplary-beings – as proven by their early chance meeting.

Their first encounter was back in 2000, when they were honored by Disney as Teachers of the Year. They started talking in the fall of 2004 – purchased the warehouse building that would transform their idea into a ‘dream school’ in November 2005, and poof… the magic started September 4, 2007. 

The building is a 50,000 square foot warehouse in South Atlanta, transformed into the sort of place J.K. Rowling dreamed up for “Harry Potter.” Every classroom has an elaborate theme — there’s a dragon and a two-story bungee jump and kids have to be “slide-certified” — a symbol they’ve signed on for something different, reports CBS News.

5th – 8th grade students throughout the Atlanta area are living the dream – and what a dream it is! “It is a place that’s about passion, energy,” says Ron Clark. “I wanted to create a school where you could feel the spirit, wanted kids to walk into this school and say, ‘I love coming here.’ If you’ve got individuals who are passionate about making a difference in the lives of kids, they’re going to be successful.” 

The school’s mission places the focus on not just learning, but passion – “To deliver the highest quality educational experience where global citizens are born through advanced rigor, engaging teaching methods, and a passionate climate and culture.

The Next Leap Forward

We need more of what Ron Clark and Kim Bearden are selling throughout the world – not just in education, in healthcare, in government, in retail, in manufacturing – in life. What they figured out early on in the process is what many fail to discover in the course of a lifetime.

To step out and be different; embrace the unknown, take on the big challenges, and create a TRANSFORMATIVE movement in education that will leave the critics speechless, and the rest of the folks simply shaking their heads (hopefully while they’re doing the Nae Nae).

Even more exciting is the school’s vision statement – “To be the best school in the world by demonstrating transformative methods and techniques that are embraced and replicated everywhere.

I’ve already scheduled this on my ‘must stop by list’ when I next visit the Atlanta region. The school has a complete list of etiquette rules to help keep adults in-line when they visit the school – smart thinking (we know the big kids can be more of a handful than school kids!).


* Bring your energy and enthusiasm!
* Make an effort to get to know the other attendees. We can all learn from each other.
* Dress casually. Groups can wear the school colors or school shirts.
* Please be on time and considerate of the jam-packed schedule. Doors open at 8:15AM.
* Wear pants if you are adventurous enough to slide or jump on the trampoline!
* Please honor the Essential 55 Rule #22, “no gum chewing.”
* Please silence your cell phones and do not accept phone calls during class or workshops.
* Please turn off your video cameras. Still photography is allowed ONLY in workshops and during transitions. Please do not take photos during classroom observations.
* Honor the privacy of our students. Please do not ask them for their email or contact information.