By Hannah Dunbar
Kim Bearden, co-founder of the nationally acclaimed Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, Ga., spoke in the Ritz Auditorium at the University of Findlay on Tuesday, March 24. According to Mitchell Augenstein, middle childhood education major and president of the University of Findlay Ohio Student Education Association, Bearden is currently an English middle school teacher as well as an active administrator at the Ron Clark Academy.
Bearden was selected from over 70,000 nominations to be honored as Disney American Teacher Awards Outstanding Middle School Humanities Teacher according to the Ron Clark Academy’s website. In addition, the Milken Family Foundation selected her as one of 155 teachers from across the nation to receive the Award of Excellence in Education.
Bearden’s first best-selling book “Crash Course: The Life Lessons My Students Taught Me” was published in July 2014 according to the Ron Clark Academy website.
“Filled with stories, laughter, advice, and reality of the classroom, I recommend the book to anyone entering into the educational field,” said Augenstein.
Despite the amount of awards and accomplishments Bearden has achieved, she appeared to be genuine and down to earth. Before the event began, Bearden walked around the auditorium and introduced herself to several members of the audience.
Bearden spoke about teaching with passion and encouraging and empowering students. In addition, Bearden discussed that even though bad things happen to good people, you cannot let that influence your teaching ability. To illustrate her point, Bearden talked about a particularly difficult time during her life and how she overcame it.
“It’s very hard for broken adults to help broken children,” said Bearden. “I made the choice to focus on lifting up my students and in the process they lifted me up as well.”
Bearden’s energy while speaking reflected the passion she has in her classroom. During the event, Bearden jumped around on the stage and walked up and down the aisles of the auditorium capturing the attention of the audience.
Bearden shared some examples of the ways she teaches in the classroom. For example, Bearden has transformed her classroom into a surgical operating room, a campground, Mount Olympus, as well as several other scenes.
“Some days my classroom is the most traditional classroom you’ll ever see but sometimes I like to weave a little magic,” said Bearden. “None of these transformations were expensive, you have to take simple things and look at them in a different way.”
Being president of UFOSEA, Augenstein orchestrated the event by working through Premiere Speakers Bureau in order to bring in a successful speaker at an affordable price.
“Originally we had secured Mr. Ken Townsel, a science teacher at Ron Clark Academy, who was national teacher of the year and friend to many,” said Augenstein. “In November 2014 he unfortunately passed away so Kim Bearden came in as a beam of light and stated she would take any previous scheduled events Mr. Townsel had at no extra charge.”
Due to Bearden’s many achievements and successes, she was far beyond UFOSEA’s initial price range so it was a blessing in and of itself according to Augenstein. The club wanted to give Bearden a taste of Findlay so two days prior to the event, Augenstein contacted the manager of Cheddar’s.
“The manager was honored that we chose them and was more than happy to meet my request of putting “Welcome Kim Bearden” on the front sign and reserving a table for 17,” said Augenstein.
After Bearden was finished speaking, she took 10-15 minutes to answer questions from the audience. Then UFOSEA presented her with a picture frame that included signatures from members of the club.
“Kim Bearden is a fantastic person and her soul shines of positivity and heart,” said Augenstein.