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Staff of Wicomico County Public Schools Prepares for 2019-2020 School Year with Thursday, Aug. 29 Kickoff Rally Featuring “America’s Educator” Ron Clark

The 2019-2020 school year will start Tuesday, Sept. 3 in Wicomico County Public Schools, and this week the excitement is already growing. With wonderful community support, Wicomico’s schools are preparing to provide the very best learning opportunities to Wicomico students by learning from one of the top innovators in the field of education.

When all employees gather the morning of Thursday, Aug. 29 for the annual Staff Kickoff Rally at the Wicomico Youth & Civic Center, they’ll hear from a very special keynote speaker, Ron Clark. Known to many as "America's Educator," Ron Clark is the 2000 Disney American Teacher of the Year, a two-time New York Times bestselling author, the subject of a television movie, and the founder of The Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta. He is regularly featured on network and cable television (The Today Show, CNN and Oprah,) and was dubbed by Oprah Winfrey as her first "Phenomenal Man." His highly effective programs garnered national attention and led to a White House invitation to be honored by the President of the United States.

Backing this outstanding opportunity for Wicomico to continue its momentum toward providing the best education for every student is the Wicomico County Education Foundation. The foundation formed a year ago to support excellence in education in Wicomico County. The Education Foundation received generous contributions to bring Ron Clark to speak to all staff of Wicomico County Public Schools from the Community Foundation of the Eastern Shore, Peninsula Regional Medical Center, Greater Salisbury Committee, Becker Morgan Group Inc. and The Insurance Market. The Board of Education and Wicomico Schools thank all of these sponsors for investing in great education.

“This generous support from our community will ultimately benefit Wicomico schools, students, families and businesses. We are very fortunate to have the community’s support to bring Ron Clark of The Ron Clark Academy here to speak to our entire school system,” said Dr. Donna C. Hanlin, Superintendent of Schools. “We’re excited about all of the good things that are going to come out of putting Ron Clark’s inspiration into play in our schools, and we’re appreciative of the Wicomico County Education Foundation and all of the sponsors that are making this happen. It’s going to be an amazing morning, and an incredible school year.”

Ron Clark is the author of the best-selling books "The Essential 55" (his 55 expectations of students and others) and "The Excellent 11," as well as "The End of Molasses Classes: Getting Our Kids Unstuck--101 Extraordinary Solutions for Parents and Teachers” and "Move Your Bus: An Extraordinary New Approach to Accelerating Success in Work and Life.” He will stay after the kickoff rally to sign books for Wicomico school system staff who wish to continue this learning opportunity by reading one or more of his books. Watch for photos from the kickoff event on the Facebook page of Wicomico County Public Schools, and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #WicomicoSchoolsKickoff.

Please note that all schools and offices of Wicomico County Public Schools will be closed until 11 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 29 so that all staff may attend this important countywide training.

Ron Clark brings charisma, energy and devotion to the education profession. He is a much sought after keynote speaker, sharing the uncanny adventures he has had in the classroom and speaking of his experiences working with students in rural North Carolina and in urban Harlem. Upon watching a television piece chronicling low test scores and the lack of teachers in inner-city New York, Ron packed his car and moved to Harlem. After being warned by the principal that his class was the least disciplined group she had seen in years, Ron prepared himself by visiting the home of each student before the first day of school. Ron Clark involved his students in projects in the city and state, and his "low achievers" soon began to excel; and by the end of the year, their scores were higher than the "gifted" classes in his district.

He didn’t stop there. In 2006, Ron Clark founded The Ron Clark Academy, an inner-city school serving students from across metro Atlanta. The privately-funded institution is unique for its innovative teaching methods. Almost 50,000 educators, teachers and administrators from around the world visit the Academy to observe the innovative and "out-of-the-box" methods for achieving student success.

Within his humorous and heartwarming stories, he delivers a message relevant to each of us. It is a message of hope, dedication and the never-say-never attitude required to achieve goals and dreams.

“We’re thrilled to have Ron Clark with us to get the 2019-2020 school year off to an inspiring and energized start,” Dr. Hanlin said.

Exciting transformations modeled on The Ron Clark Academy began taking place in Wicomico Schools last year, with Prince Street putting many of the Ron Clark practices into play after visiting the school in Atlanta. This included the creation of a House system, with all students and staff members sorted into one of five houses, each with its own theme, chant, mascot, shirt and other points of pride. House celebrations engaged the entire school. #pssnewbeginnings.

The 2019-2020 school year will see the continuation and expansion of this initiative at Prince Street, with chants and cheers and flexible seating in classrooms, and appearances by the increasingly popular drum club, Rhythm & Roots, which will perform at Thursday’s school system kickoff rally. #pssscholarsrock

Earlier in the month, 172 teachers, administrators, instructional assistants and other staff members from the eight Title I elementary schools in Wicomico County voluntarily and enthusiastically took part in Wicomico’s own Ron Clark-Inspired University, a three-day professional development opportunity presented by Prince Street Elementary and including an inspiring day with educator/author Wade King. The learning will continue for the 172 participants, who will complete this professional development course by putting what they’ve learned into action in their own classrooms and schools this fall. #PSSUniversity and #BeTheChange

Two secondary schools are also preparing to put The Ron Clark Academy House approach into action in their schools this year. Watch for more exciting news on this from Wicomico Middle and Bennett Middle as the school year progresses.