If children are our hope for the future, then the fate of our future is in the hands of our teachers. While all of us remember mindlessly memorizing facts and figures, which we would, less than 24 hours later, quickly forget, we also all remember the times teachers inspired us, made something real for us, and helped us find and develop our passions.

Around 450 educators, parents and corporate and community leaders gathered at Dixie Heights High School recently, worried about the statistic that 23 percent of Northern Kentucky third graders, or 1,131 students, are not reading proficiently. The crowd gathered to consider signing up to become a one-to-one mentor for those students, and they gathered looking for inspiration. Luckily, they found it in Ron Clark.

Often called “America’s Educator,” Clark is the founder of The Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, author of the bookThe Essential 55, Disney’s American Teacher of the Year in 2000 and, yes, even a rapper.

During his hour-long speech, Clark drove home his teaching credo: Make something fun and engaging for students, and not only will they learn it, they’ll never forget it. The lesson was one the audience won’t soon forget, either.

At one point, Clark demonstrated how he jumps up on desks in class and raps along with his students (this year, he and his class gained fame for their “You Can Vote However You Like” parody of rapper T.I.’s “Whatever You Like”).

While his stories were impressive and, often, laugh-out-loud funny — the over-dramatic hand movements and facial expressions were classic — Clark’s enthusiasm and obvious passion for teaching were the biggest takeaway.

Clark inspired the audience by making education real to them. All of our children should be so lucky.