This month’s National Renaissance Staffulty of the Month is Ryan Clement at Annville Cleona High School in Annville, PA. His colleague, Tommy Long, writes:
“Mr. Clements builds a tremendous rapport with our student body in many ways, but serving as our Mini-Thon advisor for the last 20 years, he’s lead one of the most successful activities we have at A-C on a yearly basis. Students and staff look forward to our Mini-Thon each year. Besides being an amazing school community event, we have been able to raise a lot of money for the Four Diamonds to help with children’s cancer. This year will be the year our school raises over $1 million for this cause. A big reason for this accomplishment is the outstanding leadership from Mr. Clements, who does all this work along with his role as an English teacher, broadcasting teacher and overseeing seeing our newspaper and yearbook.”
How long have you been involved with Renaissance?
Our school is relatively new with the Renaissance program. I attended my first workshop 4 years ago.
What’s a favorite Renaissance moment for you?
Foremost in my mind are the “Fun Fridays.” On a casual day with classes cancelled, students and staff have the opportunity to interact and be engaged in so many different activities—from making posters for the school to playing board games or getting some well-needed time in with certain clubs. Of course, outside events and sports are popular, but this is something I look forward to because I’m forging relationships with the students in different ways that carry over into the classroom. I love the chance to be around my students in non-academic settings, and the students need to know that having a “Fun Friday” is every bit important to the school experience as a regular class.
How has Renaissance impacted your school’s culture?
I’ve been teaching for 27 years and I know that my impact on students isn’t about how to identify a gerund or how to determine the difference between a metaphor and a simile. Instead, my leadership in overseeing extra-curricular activities like Four Diamonds or helping the male athletes create and implement a halftime show for the school’s powderpuff football game are what I know will be remembered. It’s the relationships and the life lessons that I think I see mattering the most to students.
How has Renaissance affected you personally?
Specifically, I have seen how our school has rallied behind our students who have battled cancer or even participated in events, fundraisers, or spirit days to show their support for Four Diamonds which helps those students battling the disease. I’ve done a lot of things in 27 years, but watching how our school population has latched onto this one particular thing and used it as a tool to encourage school comradery while at the same time continuing to keep the spirit of community service and giving back when they leave high school has been the most rewarding. Renaissance has that same spirit of comradery, and I love watching the students find things that they can do for the school that excites them and makes them want to think outside the box.
What advice would you give to someone just starting with Renaissance?
It’s all about starting small. You hear a lot of great ideas during workshops and tick off all these boxes in your head about how this could be implemented or how the school could tackle this big event. But you have to start small—you find a small group of influential and excited students and then find one or two things that they can do that will make an impact and get more students and more staff excited. Then find that next small thing that maybe your favorite teacher could oversee, and it just builds from there.
Mr. Clements will receive a tote bag and a lapel pin to recognize his achievement.