LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Stand up and give an answer! It's one of the techniques you will see inside a classroom using the Ron Clark teaching method. The method was born inside the Ron Clark Academy, a demonstration school located in Atlanta, Georgia.
This way of teaching is inspiring teachers, students, and administrators all over the world, including right here in Las Vegas.
Fertitta Middle School is seeing results.
Thomas Machaud is an accelerated American History teacher. He uses the Ron Clark method of teaching and the kids respond. Machaud moves around the room and stands on a platform. And when the students answer a question, they stand up and make eye contact.
Machaud says, "After 20 years or something in the classroom the job can get monotonous and to me, with this way, I'm always trying to push myself to find more clever ways of doing things and that's helped huge... but it also means that I feel like kids just respond better, they are more enthusiastic they enjoy my class, it challenges me to make them want to like my class."
Principal Dr. Cailin Ellis says, "They have transformed their classrooms into these magical places where they kind of capture kids at the door, so whatever difficult content they throw their way, they're able to be engaged and excited about coming to school."
Ellis says this model of teaching has proven results.
Fertitta has seen a 28 percent decrease in suspensions, a 42 percent decrease in expulsions, a 69 percent drop in retention rate, and a 100 percent proficiency on end of course exams.
Ellis says, "It feels so good because really we want kids to be on campus we want them to be learning, and if they're in trouble, ya know, they are out of the classroom and that's not where they need to be."
The Fertitta 15 is a list of guidelines that students must follow. It promotes respect and common courtesy.
8th grade student Alex Ellisworth says, "It's really enhanced my every day ability to just be able to speak in front of a crowd, to talk to people, it really helps with that and I think it's really important to have that."
The Fertitta 15 is a way of life here at the middle school. It's manners like these that you see listed all around the school... making eye contact, introducing yourself, picking up after yourself... Those things, they do them at school but they also tell me they end up taking it home with them.
7th grader Amiya Trapp says, "Tt pushes you for your everyday life, it helps you with everything that you are going to be doing when you are older like presentation skills poise confidence, everything."
The school uses a house system. There are four houses and they compete for points, which makes it fun. The teachers also believe in dressing for success!
Machaud says, "I've become much more of a believer in professionalism in education I think if you want to be taken seriously you have to dress like it."
Principal Ellis says Ron Clark himself comes out to meet with teachers as part of the CCSD new teacher program. More than 20 schools have implemented at least some strategies from the Ron Clark Academy.
Fertitta is a free, public school. You have to be zoned to attend, but it's also an open enrollment school, and normally has about 100 spots. The school also holds academic nights so parents can see what they do in the classrooms. Ellis says she's willing to help any school with implementation. Feel free to email her here: firstname.lastname@example.org