Ron Clark Academy (RCA) in Atlanta, Georgia is unlike any other school in the U.S. It was built in 2007 with the goal of revolutionizing education. Ron Clark and co-founder Kim Bearden envisioned a place where educators were free to be creative, where teaching to the test was outlawed and teachers were passionate about their jobs and the success of students. RCA has been called “the best school in America” by Oprah and is backed by a number of global companies including Coca-Cola and Delta.
The school also serves as a training camp of sorts for teachers interested in bringing the Ron Clark philosophy to their own districts. RCA sees about 4,000 educators come through its doors every year. To meet the growing demand for teacher training, RCA built a world-class training institute inspired by another legendary school: Hogwarts. Longtime RCA partner, Panasonic, provided much of the technology in this innovative, Harry Potter-inspired teaching and learning space. With the unveiling of its new facility, RCA expects to host about 10,000 educators per a year for training sessions.
“They wanted to create a very high impact, very memorable experience for the educators and the students. It has 50-foot dragons and 40-foot long fireplaces. There’s integrated video and audio and some smoke and mirrors and all these great things that create a facility that is just an exciting, energized place to be,” says Scott Thie, vice president of Education Solutions, Panasonic.
Panasonic provided the video and audio technology for the RCA training facility. Forty, 55-inch, ultra-thin bezel LCD displays make up two 4×5 video walls. There’s also a giant, high-resolution projector at the front of the classroom. Both the displays and projector are tied into the school’s audio system and can be operated independently for multiple presentations or all together for an immersive experience. The displays produce images so vibrant you can see them even with the lights on. The video wall is used for educator training sessions, school assemblies and to add to the ambience of sports games and other events.
“I can now have 600 teachers in the facility at one time using the Panasonic screens to show them messages and videos and examples from our classrooms,” says Ron Clark, co-founder of RCA. Previously, RCA only had the space to train up to 200 teachers at a time meaning they had to do the same presentation three times to accommodate the growing number of educators interested in training.
“When we did this new facility, we knew we had to step it up,” Clark says. “It’s an exciting and electric way to really convey a message and to grab the attention of the people.”