Principal Joe Clark who inspired the movie “Lean On Me” has passed away
Joe Louis Clark, the famous director of New Jersey wielding megaphones and bats East High School in Paterson, New Jersey, died on Dec. 29, 2020, at the age of 82, according to his family. Clark’s strict and unorthodox disciplinary methods inspired the 1989 blockbuster film, “Lean on me. ”
Clark died surrounded by his family at his home in Gainesville, Florida after a long battle with illness.
Twitter was filled with comments on the main hardcore who mentored a lot.
“One of the most inspiring films I have ever seen… It made me want to be a teacher and stand up for students who are often overlooked or excluded. May his memory be a blessing, ”one user wrote.
Another posted: “This man was all kind of father to America.”
Clark began his educational career as a teacher at Paterson Elementary School, then went on to become director of camps and playgrounds in Essex County. But he found his calling when he became the principal of the PS 6 Grammar School. Under Clark’s command, the once failing school has been transformed into a “Miracle of Carroll Street,” his family said in a statement. Press release.
From high school principal, Clark has gone on to repeat his success at Eastside High School, turning the school – and its students – around. He kicked out hundreds of students in one day at Paterson’s Criminal and Drug School. He was also tough on teachers, demanding that they help raise the school’s educational standards.
“Committed to the pursuit of excellence, Clark greeted with enthusiastic optimism the challenges presented to him following his appointment as principal of Eastside High School criminal and drug addict,” the statement said. “In one day, he kicked out 300 students for fights, vandalism, teacher abuse and drug possession and raised the expectations of those who remained, continually challenging them to perform better. Walking the halls with a megaphone and a baseball bat, Clark’s unorthodox methods have won him both admirers and critics across the country.
Clark’s difficult techniques were appreciated by some and criticized by others as being too hard for the students. His supporters, however, hailed him as “Batman” for the baseball bat he wore while patrolling the halls of the school. He even caught the attention of President Ronald Reagan, who offered him a post as a political adviser in the White House, NJ.com reported.
The media have also taken note. Clark appeared on “60 Minutes” and “The Arsenio Hall Show” and was on the cover of Time Magazine before the movie “Lean on Me” starring Morgan Freeman told the world about the Jersey director.
Clark retired from Eastside in 1989 but continued to work for six years as a director of Essex County House of Detention, a juvenile detention center in Newark.
His uncompromising discipline did not go well at the detention center. He has been criticized for putting handcuffs and shackles on teenagers, NJ.com reported.
“They weren’t mistreated,” Clark said at the time. “They were not beaten … they were simply manipulated in a manner proportionate to their unacceptable behavior.”
By Clark’s own admission, 12 boys, aged 17 and 18, were shackled for two days after several violent episodes in which they threw excrement at a guard.
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Clark was born in Rochelle, Georgia on May 8, 1938. At the age of 6, he and his family moved to New Jersey, settling in Newark.
After graduating from Central High School in Newark, Clark received a bachelor’s degree from William Paterson University (then William Paterson College). He went on to earn a master’s degree from Seton Hall University and an honorary doctorate from the US Sports Academy. Clark also served as a U.S. Army Reserve Sergeant and Drill Instructor.
Clark’s postgraduate career as a U.S. Army Reserve sergeant and drill instructor rooted in him a respect for order and accomplishment, which has come to define his career spanning more than three decades in education, ”his family said.
Clark also wrote a book, “Laying Down the Law: Joe Clark’s Strategy for Saving Our Schools”, about his time at Eastside High.
Clark is survived by his children, Joetta, Hazel and JJ, and his grandchildren, Talitha, Jorell and Hazel. His wife, Gloria, preceded him in death, PA reported.