Principal Joe Clark, who inspired 1989 film 'Lean on Me,' dies at 82

  

Category:  News & Politics

Via:  sister-mary-agnes-ample-bottom  •  4 weeks ago  •  9 comments

By:   USA TODAY

Principal Joe Clark, who inspired 1989 film 'Lean on Me,' dies at 82
Joe Louis Clark, the bullhorn-wielding principal who inspired the 1989 film "Lean on Me," died at 82 after a long battle with an unspecified illness.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T



Associated Press

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Joe Louis Clark, the baseball bat and bullhorn-wielding principal whose unwavering commitment to his students and uncompromising disciplinary methods inspired the 1989 film "Lean on Me," died at his Florida home on Tuesday after a long battle with an unspecified illness, his family said in statement. He was 82.

Born in Rochelle, Georgia on May 8, 1938, Clark's family moved north to Newark, New Jersey, when he was 6 years old. After graduating from Newark Central High School, Clark received his bachelor's degree from William Paterson College (now William Paterson University), a master's degree from Seton Hall University and an honorary doctorate from the U.S. Sports Academy. Clark also served as a U.S. Army Reserve sergeant and a drill instructor.

Clark started teaching at a Paterson grade school in Essex County, N.J., before becoming principal of PS 6 Grammar School.

He was later hired as principal of the crime and drug-ridden Eastside High School. In one day, he expelled 300 students for fighting, vandalism, abusing teachers and drug possession, and lifted the expectations of those who remained, continually challenging them to perform better and roaming the hallways with a bullhorn and a baseball bat Clark's unorthodox methods won him both admirers and critics nationwide. President Ronald Reagan offered Clark a White House policy advisor position after his success at the high school.

Morgan Freeman starred as Clark in the 1989 film "Lean on Me" that was loosely based on Clark's tenure at Eastside.

After he retired from Eastside in 1989, Clark worked for six years as the director of Essex County Detention House, a juvenile detention center in Newark. He also wrote "Laying Down the Law: Joe Clark's Strategy for Saving Our Schools," detailing his methods for turning around Eastside High.

He retired to Gainesville, Florida.

Clark is survived by his children, Joetta, Hazel and JJ, and grandchildren, Talitha, Jorell and Hazel. His wife, Gloria, preceded him in death.


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Sister Mary Agnes Ample Bottom
Professor Guide
1  seeder  Sister Mary Agnes Ample Bottom    4 weeks ago

Clark also served as a U.S. Army Reserve sergeant and a drill instructor.

I didn't know he was an Army drill instructor, but it doesn't surprise me one bit.

 
 
 
Paula Bartholomew
Masters Guide
1.1  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  Sister Mary Agnes Ample Bottom @1    4 weeks ago

I didn't either but I should have suspected it as he reminded me of my own father who was a USMC DI.  RIP Mr. Clark.  You were a giant in your profession.

 
 
 
Perrie Halpern R.A.
Professor Principal
2  Perrie Halpern R.A.    4 weeks ago

As a young teacher in a tough inner-city school, Clark was a hero to me as he was to his students. I am sure he had that effect on many teachers of the time. 

RIP. You did a lot of good in this world. 

 
 
 
Sister Mary Agnes Ample Bottom
Professor Guide
2.1  seeder  Sister Mary Agnes Ample Bottom  replied to  Perrie Halpern R.A. @2    4 weeks ago
As a young teacher in a tough inner-city school, Clark was a hero to me as he was to his students. I am sure he had that effect on many teachers of the time.

It's not a stretch to think of you putting up with as much shit as Joe Clark did...which was none .   

Me jrSmiley_113_smiley_image.pngjrSmiley_29_smiley_image.gif on day one of your class.  Me jrSmiley_113_smiley_image.pngjrSmiley_15_smiley_image.gif on the last day of class.

 
 
 
MAGA
Junior Guide
3  MAGA    4 weeks ago

What a great man!  He truly cared about the welfare and best interests of his students.  RIP 🪦 Joe Clark.  

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
4  Kavika     4 weeks ago

RIP Mr. Clark.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
5  JohnRussell    4 weeks ago

This was kind of the beginning of "tough love" as a nationally promoted method of response to teenage misbehavior, as I recall.  

RIP

 
 
 
Sister Mary Agnes Ample Bottom
Professor Guide
5.1  seeder  Sister Mary Agnes Ample Bottom  replied to  JohnRussell @5    4 weeks ago
This was kind of the beginning of "tough love" as a nationally promoted method of response to teenage misbehavior, as I recall.

Yes, it was.  Too bad that it seems to have faded into the background over the last several years.

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
PhD Principal
6  Trout Giggles    4 weeks ago

RIP, Mr Clark

 
 
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