Thanks, Ron Clark!

I was a North Carolina Teaching Fellow (RIP) in college, which provided me with many valuable experiences. Every summer there was a conference and/or enrichment opportunity to attend. After my freshman year was the “Discovery Bus Tour,” which took all 500 Teaching Fellows on a tour around the school districts in North Carolina. After my sophomore year was called “Junior Enrichment,” which was a week or more of traveling to enrich your own experiences, and after my junior year was called “Senior Conference.”  At Senior Conference, Ron Clark, spoke to the Teaching Fellows. He was a Teaching Fellow at East Carolina University. I found him to be both incredibly inspiring and funny. After he spoke, we had the opportunity to buy his book, The Essential 55, and meet him to get our book signed:


I am telling you all of this because I think this is where my textual lineage really took a turn. My parents always read to me when I was younger, and of course I read as a requirement from my parents and from school. But Ron Clark’s books are the first books I remember purchasing on my own to read for fun. I didn’t even read Harry Potter when it was wildly popular because I really did not enjoy reading. However, I really enjoyed The Essential 55, and it led me to purchase his other two books, The Excellent 11 and The End of Molasses Classes. The End of Molasses Classes was my favorite, and to this day I remember and refer back to many important lessons I learned from this book. His books really made me start thinking about the type of teacher I wanted to be. I knew that I wanted to be a teacher who was a great role model for my students. This made me want to read more, since I knew I would be requiring and encouraging my students to do a lot of reading. It would be hypocritical of me to emphasize the importance of reading to my students when I wasn’t much of a reader myself.

After reading Ron Clark’s books, I started reading more books for fun that were popular at the time including The Help by Kathryn Stockett, The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, and The Entire Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins. I am embarrassed to remind you that this was not until my senior year of college that I truly began to love reading. Many of my friends already read for enjoyment, so I found myself having more conversations about reading with my friends which was a fun change for me.

Now I love to read for enjoyment in my free time, and many of my friends ask me for new book suggestions:


My textual lineage is one of the reasons I wanted to pursue my master’s in literacy. I knew I was a stronger math teacher because math has always been easier for me, so I wanted to pursue a master’s in literacy to close that gap. If you would have told me when I was younger that I would love reading and do it for fun, I wouldn’t have believed you. I am already looking forward to Christmas break so I can read Ron Clark’s book that came out in 2015, Move Your Bus.


One thought on “Thanks, Ron Clark!

  1. The Third October 3, 2016 / 3:16 pm

    Dear whitneyallred,

    When you wrote that you wanted to pursue Master in Literacy because you are more comfortable with math to strive to close the gap, that will be as same as (hypothetically) me pursuing Master in Math Education just because I’m more comfortable with literacy. Your ambition definitely challenges me to think differently about literacy because it’s more than reading for school. It’s about putting behind the way in which we used to do things and moving forward with the new way of enjoying what we do and how we do. Your narrative is an incredible witness to the importance of our students’ intrinsic motivation and what we can do to help them enjoy the process.

    Your story about closing the gap between math and literacy parallels that of my day yesterday. A student interviewed me for her math project. She asked me these following questions which I thought made me think about the relationship between the two strands of academic discipline.

    What’s your job? Gifted Specialist
    What do you do in your job? I monitor students who need gifted services in regular classrooms
    How is math tied to your job? I have to read data, charts, and graphs
    What math concepts do you think you are using? fraction, variables, pie charts & graphs, percentages
    How are you using those math concepts for your job? making predictions on student achievement levels based on the trajectory and student data/work with the community of parents and teachers to raise awareness on gifted learners!

    Although my responses were simplified to fit the need of a 6th grade student, it was quite interesting to reflect upon how math concepts weren’t that far from my literary inclinations.

    Thank you for sharing!


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