Hogwarts Comes to Ron Clark Academy

Panasonic wins the 2015 Integration Award in the K-12 category for its work at Ron Clark Academy.>

Chrissy Winske
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Ron Clark Academy (RCA) in Atlanta is unlike any other school in the United States.

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 Winfrey 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.

Integrator Takeaways:
1. View your role as a joint partnership with the school.
2. Be able to articulate the value of the tech-nology to key stakeholders.
3. It can’t be technology for technology’s sake.

End User Takeaways:
1. Don’t go at it alone. Let your technology partners be the experts in technology.
2. Find a partner that has experience in the classroom.
3. Think about what you want to do five years from now.

Equipment Highlights:
40 TH-55LFV5U LED displays,
PT-DZ870ULK Projector,
PT-DLE350 Power Zoom Lens

“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 at 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.

In the past, RCA could only accommodate 100-200 teachers at a time for training so in order to cover the 400 educators coming through in a day, the academy had to do the same presentation multiple times. With the new facility, this isn’t a problem. It can accommodate up to 600 teachers for training at any given time.

“When we did this new facility, we knew we had to step it up,” says Ron Clark, co-founder of RCA. “It’s an exciting and electric way to really convey a message and to grab the attention of the people.”

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