To a packed audience full of students, faculty, parents, and members from the community, media mogul, and billionaire Oprah Winfrey delivered a resounding message of hope, of resilience and of following one’s dreams at a 10th-anniversary celebration of the founding of The Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta.

“In life, you have two choices,” Winfrey told the enamored audience, before later announcing plans to support the Academy with a $5 million donation. “You can either move in the direction of fear or in the direction of love.”

For Ron Clark, the founder of The Ron Clark Academy (RCA), realizing his dream meant transforming his vision of creating an atmosphere where children truly enjoyed learning into a reality.

And, on Nov. 3, 2007, Clark — then an ambitious teacher from Harlem, New York moved swiftly in the direction of his heart and set out to reform education forever. Now, thanks to a proclamation from Mayor Kasim Reed, November 3rd has also been declared as the Ron Clark Academy Day in Atlanta.

With the help of RCA co-founder Kim Bearden and the rising popularity—and proceeds—from his New York Times best-selling book, “The Essential 55: An Award-Winning Educator’s Rules for Discovering the Successful Student in Every Child,” Clark was able to transform an old factory into one of the most celebrated private schools in Metro Atlanta.

In addition to the pronouncement of RCA Day, Reed presented Clark and the Academy a $20,000 check toward the construction of the academy’s state-of-the-art Ryan Marshall Performing Arts Center.

The Ryan Marshall Performing Arts Center will be a 32,000 square foot multi-purpose facility with the ability to accommodate more than 1,200 people. The facility will allow over 600 educators to gather in one place. Marshall was a former RCA student who was killed while saving his mother’s life.

In addition to Reed’s five-figure donation, Coca-Cola, BB&T, Georgia Power, and Nano Lumens also pledged their support, raising in total more than $12 million during the celebration.

Oprah Winfrey congratulates Ron Clark during tat the Ron Clark Academy Celebration on Friday, November 3, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia.

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