At the ASCD Empower 2019 conference, Ron Clark encouraged us to “Be the Revolution”, to be the “pizza and not the bread.” Ron Clark, one of the Founders of Ron Clark Academy, is full of passion and innovation. This passion rubs off on those around him. You know that Ron Clark loves children. He still teaches in the classroom knowing that the classroom is the pulse of education. His book, The Essential 55, gives you insight into his philosophy. It is his belief that children should be held to high standards academically and behaviorally. Ron Clark encourages teachers to help children identify the strength of who they are and to help them learn the history of their people. The teacher is in charge and will help children to succeed in school and in life. Ron Clark is a revolution.
I had never heard of Ron Clark, when we began a crusade to change our public school years ago. We wanted to emphasize the joy of learning and bring engagement back to the classroom for our students. This endeavor was in response to large numbers of office referrals and disengagement in our classrooms. So we sought to be a revolution. We discussed our desire with the superintendent, and we began a year of study, research, and surveys of parents, staff, and students. We were innovative and creative. The kids could not wait to be a part of this “unique” school. Some school board members even came to our school to hear about this new type of school. Unfortunately our revolution failed, and this “new” public school never came to be.
Hearing the thoughts of the children, I just could not give up on the “school” we had developed on paper. So I tried another tactic – the charter school process. Charter schools were supposed to be a revolution. But again, the revolution for this school as a charter failed. If you have never been through a charter process in Indiana, you do not realize how rigorous the system is nor do some people understand the concept of charter schools. They fight against it not even really knowing how charters work and operate.
So now York Academy seeks to be a free private kindergarten wanting to be a revolution. I did not realize Ron Clark Academy was a private school until I began checking into the background of Ron Clark and The Ron Clark Academy. Wow – I thought, this is almost like what we seek.
York Academy is different from many schools, different than even The Ron Clark Academy. For now, York Academy is not interested in taking state or federal dollars. Once you take this money, innovation is limited. We do not want to be limited nor do we want our creativity stifled in developing a kindergarten that meets the needs of the whole child.
There is only one problem with York Academy of Discovery – because we do not wish to take state or federal dollars, we have no money. We must depend on gifts and donations to our organization which is a registered 501c3 non-profit. Trying to be a revolution is not easy. In fighting for revolution, you fail and get knocked down many times. I try to remind myself that this is exactly what we want to build in children – a desire to revolutionize their world and to contribute to the welfare of others. We are trying to teach our children to – Be the Revolution!