x

Cinema

Principal Joe Clark Who Inspired Film “Lean on Me” Has Died

December 30, 2020

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) — 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. 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.

RELATED

CANNES, France (AP) — A month before Kevin Costner puts the first installment of his multi-chapter Western “Horizon: An American Saga” into theaters, the actor-director came to the Cannes Film Festival to unveil his self-financed passion project.

Top Stories

Columnists

A pregnant woman was driving in the HOV lane near Dallas.

General News

NEW YORK – Meropi Kyriacou, the new Principal of The Cathedral School in Manhattan, was honored as The National Herald’s Educator of the Year.

Video

Sour Patch Kids Oreos? Peeps Pepsi? What’s Behind the Weird Flavors Popping Up on Store Shelves

Van Leeuwen Ice Cream usually draws customers with gourmet takes on classics like vanilla and pistachio.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said the military would expand its operations in the southern Gaza city of Rafah in talks Monday with a U.

BRATISLAVA, Slovakia (AP) — Slovak populist Prime Minister Robert Fico’s condition is improving following an assassination attempt last week that shocked the European Union nation deeply polarized over his policies.

CANNES, France (AP) — A month before Kevin Costner puts the first installment of his multi-chapter Western “Horizon: An American Saga” into theaters, the actor-director came to the Cannes Film Festival to unveil his self-financed passion project.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Iran's first Vice President Mohammad Mokhber was appointed as acting president of the Islamic Republic on Monday after the death of President Ebrahim Raisi in a helicopter crash in the country's northwest.

Enter your email address to subscribe

Provide your email address to subscribe. For e.g. [email protected]

You may unsubscribe at any time using the link in our newsletter.