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Ron Clark Academy makes Atlanta its classroom | Schools

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Ron Clark Academy makes Atlanta its classroom
Ron Clark Academy makes Atlanta its classroom

ATLANTA -- When students at Ron Clark Academy arrived at school one recent morning, they learned all of their classes would take place at different places throughout the city of Atlanta.

They boarded buses headed to surprise locations for a host of unique learning experiences for the students in fifth through eighth grades.

"Education should be about passion and about real-world experiences," said Ron Clark, co-founder of Ron Clark Academy.

"Anything can be a learning experience if you look at it in terms of how I can learn from it," said Ron Clark Academy co-founder Kim Bearden.

The students spent about an hour at each of several locations.

Clark worked with students on the floor of Philips Arena and assigned them various math problems, such as determining the number of seats for basketball games.

Spanish teacher Joyce Estrada Bailey took the students to Rhythma Studios in East Point to learn how to dance the Salsa.

Some science classes went with teacher Ken Townsel to Zoo Atlanta to study biomes, including those involving elephants.

For additional science, some students went with Gina Coss, to the Bodies Exhibit for lessons in anatomy and more.

Social studies students spent time at the Titanic Exhibit with teacher Sarah Hildebrand.

English teacher Susan Barnes took students to the Screen Gems Studios near Lakewood, where they spent time on set of the BET show "The Game."

"They showed us the backdrops, they show us the sets, they explained to us how they do outdoor scenes and interior scenes," said eighth grader Alexis Walker.

Bearden worked with the production and news staffs at 11Alive and created a learning experience involving chroma key technology and its importance in reporting news, weather and traffic.

They also learned about news copy and reading it on camera.

"We're going to take what we've learned here today and talk about news writing and how that differs from narrative writing and sound bites," said Bearden.

"It's like all of our learning is worth it because, oh wow, we're actually going to have to use it in the real world," said eighth grader Jordan Still.

Part of the mission at Ron Clark Academy is to help educators worldwide add excitement to their classrooms. While they realize all schools can't do exactly what they did for RCA Day in the City, they hope teachers will reach out to places close by their schools that can offer them learning opportunities.

"These kids have been all over the city embracing Atlanta and making it our classroom," said Clark.