Principal Joe Clark, who inspired film ‘Lean on Me,’ dies

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

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Joe Louis Clark, the baseball bat and bullhorn-wielding principal whose unwavering dedication to his college students and uncompromising disciplinary strategies impressed the 1989 movie “Lean on Me,” died at his Florida dwelling on Tuesday after a protracted battle with an unspecified sickness, his household stated. He was 82.

At crime- and drug-ridden Eastside Excessive Faculty in Paterson, New Jersey, Clark expelled 300 college students in a single day for combating, vandalism, abusing academics and drug possession. That lifted the expectations of those that remained, regularly difficult them to carry out higher. Clark’s unorthodox strategies, which included roaming the hallways with a bullhorn and a baseball bat, gained him each admirers and critics nationwide. President Ronald Reagan provided Clark a White Home coverage adviser place after his success at the highschool.

Morgan Freeman starred as Clark within the 1989 movie “Lean on Me” that was loosely based mostly on Clark’s tenure at Eastside.

“Joe was a father determine to high school children,” Freeman stated in an announcement Wednesday. “He was the very best of the very best when it comes to schooling.”

After he retired from Eastside in 1989, Clark labored for six years because the director of Essex County Detention Home, a juvenile detention heart in Newark. He additionally wrote “Laying Down the Legislation: Joe Clark’s Technique for Saving Our Colleges,” detailing his strategies for turning round Eastside Excessive.

Clark’s instructing profession began at a Paterson grade college in Passaic County, New Jersey, earlier than he turned principal of PS 6 Grammar Faculty.

Clark was born in Rochelle, Georgia, on Could 8, 1938. His household moved north to Newark, New Jersey, when he was 6 years outdated. After graduating from Newark Central Excessive Faculty, Clark obtained his bachelor’s diploma from William Paterson Faculty (now William Paterson College), a grasp’s diploma from Seton Corridor College, and an honorary doctorate from the U.S. Sports activities Academy. Clark additionally served as a U.S. Military Reserve sergeant and a drill teacher.

Clark is survived by his youngsters, Joetta, Hazel and JJ, and grandchildren, Talitha, Jorell and Hazel. His spouse, Gloria, preceded him in demise.


This story has been corrected to point out that the county of the varsity Clark taught at is in Passaic County, not Essex County.

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