Before the Ron Clark Academy was created in 2007, Kim Bearden and Ron Clark already had successful careers. Bearden was a celebrated teacher and administrator in Atlanta and Clark was a rockstar teacher in Harlem.
“EVERBODY KINDA THOUGHT I WAS A LITTLE INSANE.”
FOUNDER AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE RON CLARK ACADEMY
Together, they took a leap of faith and purchased a dilapidated 100-year-old factory in a crime-stricken area of Atlanta.
“When we got out of the car the real estate agent said, ‘This is no place for a school,’ and we looked at each other, and instantaneously we knew it was the place,” said Bearden.
With grit and determination, Bearden and Clark transformed the rundown factory into the Ron Clark Academy, one of the top places for learning in the country.
Bearden says they wanted to show that there was beauty in everything.
“Everything was on the line quite honestly. It was one of those things, a lot of people thought I was a little crazy,” said Bearden. “I was very stable in my career. I had tremendous success in my career and to just turn around and just walk away and say that I’m going to start a school with this guy [Ron Clark]. Everbody kinda thought I was a little insane.”
Bearden was newly remarried at the time, and she says she was fortunate her husband believed in the dream and supported her in it.
“It took us three years. People think it was an overnight thing,” said Bearden. “If I had known how hard it was going to be, I don’t know if I would have been brave enough to do it. I think sometimes ignorance can be bliss, and in this case, it was.”
In November 2017, The Ron Clark Academy celebrated their 10-year anniversary.
On hand for the event was Oprah Winfrey. While visiting Atlanta, Oprah told local media, “There’s not a better school, organization or institution in the USA.”
In Episode 37 of Class Dismissed we asked Bearden about…
- What she looks for when hiring a teacher?
- What tricks she uses to connect with hard to reach students?
- Why an accomplished author and executive director of a successful school still teaches students daily?
- How surreal is it to receive so much praise and support from Oprah Winfrey?
Kim also reveals that she just finished writing her new book, which will focus on how we communicate with parents, students, and co-workers. Bearden says the working title of the new book is “Talk To Me” and it’s set for release August 1st, 2018.
Bearden’s current book “Crash Course: The Life Lessons My Students Taught Me”, chronicles the life lessons that Kim Bearden has learned during an award-winning career in education.