Ron Clark Academy prepares for major expansion

- Southeast Atlanta's Ron Clark Academy has become a standout for educators around the world.

The nonprofit school is known for dancing teachers and students that sing and rap their lessons.

And now the school is preparing to expand next year in a way that will honor a former student.

The school will be breaking ground on the new Ryan Marshall Performing Arts Center, a 32,000-square-foot multipurpose facility school administrators say will make way for hosting more programs and visiting educators.

"I will love this building and continue to visit back to it. I am really excited for the construction of it," student Olivia Justice said. "I'm really looking forward to see how it turns out."

The center will be named after RCA graduate and standout Ryan Marshall, whose life was cut short three years ago.

"There was a carjacking taking place in his front yard, and his mother opened the door, and Ryan was there as well," Ron Clark Academy co-founder Kim Bearden explained. "The carjacker turned the gun, and he jumped in front of his mother, protecting her."

The bullet hit Ryan, killing him.

 But there is new hope after the loss for the building that will be in his name. The school is embarking on a $15 million capital campaign to build the facility.

They're now $3 million shy of that goal thanks to corporate donors and a longtime supporter of the school – media mogul Oprah Winfrey.

RELATED: Oprah donates $5 million to Ron Clark Academy

At the school's 10-year anniversary extravaganza this month, Oprah made the announcement in front of a shocked Ron Clark.

"I have now decided I'm going to give $5 million," she said to the crowd.

Clark said that the administrators and faculty put their blood, sweat, and tears into the school.

"People always say 'I want to start a school and do this too,' and I'm like, look, here's what you do first. Build an altar, crawl on it, sacrifice yourself," he said. "Because for years this was an old nasty factory, and we worked really hard to get donations, asking people for toilets and a front door and carpet. And it took a long time to build this school."

He said the school proved that if you reach out to the community with a dream it can come true.

"You can make change and you can make a revolution."

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