Love Them First: Educator, Author, Speaker Brings Energy and Inspiration to Chesapeake

On Tuesday, November 5, 2019, you could feel the excitement fill the Indian River High School auditorium. Over 1,200 Chesapeake educators were there to learn, and to laugh as part of the first engagement in the new Chesapeake Speaker Series.

Ron Clark, educator, author, and former Survivor contestant, was there to share a message. A message of stepping outside of your comfort zone as an educator, about taking risks to help students succeed, and about pushing kids to reach their full potential. But that message stressed the importance of showing students how much we care about them first. “If you love them first, you can have rigor and hold them to a high standard,” he said.

After teaching in North Carolina and New York City, he opened The Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta. The academy design feels different from a traditional school, and he said you’ll often see teachers dancing and singing with their students to help them retain information. In order to staff his school, Clark traveled to all 50 states recruiting the best teachers he could find. In his school, creativity, energy, genuine concern for students, and high standards are the norm.  

His energy and sense of humor, along with his blunt insights into schools and education engaged everyone in attendance. According to one teacher, “I spent half the time laughing and the other half trying not to cry.” His message was inspiring to any educator who just wants the best for their students. 

I am very grateful to the Chesapeake Public Schools Education Foundation for sponsoring the Chesapeake Speaker Series, and to the Department of Professional and Organizational Development for their help in making this event possible.

I’d also like to thank Mr. Clark for inspiring and energizing the educators in the room, including me. That will pay dividends as those teachers and administrators go back into their schools and interact and build positive relationships with their students.

You can view more photos from the Ron Clark event here, or see more coverage, including an interview with Ron Clark, produced by Chesapeake TV below: