I just finished watching the Ron Clark Story. For those unfamiliar, it’s a movie based on the true story of Ron Clark, a teacher who left his small hometown to teach in one of Harlem’s toughest schools. His unorthodox teaching methods, combined with his genuine passion for wanting to see his students succeed, is what drove each of his students to reach their maximum potential.
The movie ends with the news that his grade six class successfully performed above expectations on their year end standardized tests. This made-for-television movie was released in 2006 and stars Matthew Perry in the role of Clark. Perry, best known for his role on the hit series Friends, gives a heartfelt performance that really captures Clark’s optimistic spirit.
At its core the movie is about making something out of nothing. Clark’s students are mostly minorities who come from a harsh inner-city upbringing. Despite only being in middle school many of the students hustle outside of the classroom in order to earn extra cash for their families. Some are forced to play double duty and serve as parental figures to their younger siblings while their parents are away at work.
I’ve often felt the difference between success and failure is directly related to the degree to which one is motivated. At a certain age, some kids may instinctively grasp what steps they must take to achieve their dreams while others may have the same desire, but need more positive reinforcement of those around them. This is where a teacher like Clark comes into play. At the end of the day the goal of every teacher should be to help prepare their students to succeed in life rather than just just promoting them to the next grade level.
Children need to be constantly be reminded that they can achieve greatness in spite of the circumstances they were born into. I can only imagine how frustrating it must be wake up every morning only to be reminded that you’ll never amount to anything.
Watching the Ron Clark Story really showed me that adults should do everything in their power to ensure that the kids we come into contact with realize they can achieve greatness. If Barack Obama was able to become president of the United States then no dream of theirs should ever be out of reach.