Joe Louis Clark
Former principal of Eastside High School in Paterson, NJ (Subject of the 1989 film Lean on Me)
Clark is a former Army drill instructor and carries out his career in education in the same military fashion. Instead of offering sympathy, Clark believes that you must demand respect and display that through strict leadership tactics. In 1982, Clark became the principal at Eastside High School in Paterson, NJ, which was known for high crime rates. Clark made it his mission to initiate change and restructure the school and the students. In one week Clark expelled 300 students for fighting, vandalism, drug possession, profanity or abusing teacher. In 1985, his school was declared a model school by the New Jersey governor and in 1986 he was named one of the nation’s ten “Principals of Leadership.”
Clark was portrayed in the film Lean on Me by Morgan Freeman. Later, Clark was featured on the front page of Time and two episode profiles on 60 minutes for his effective educational tactics. In 1990, Clark resigned from Eastside High and began a public speaking career. Later in 1995, he was appointed as the director of Essex County Detention House and took on the challenge of helping juveniles within the detention center. Since then, Clark has written books and spoke at conferences sharing his strategies and stories. Clark never gave up and remained determined to educate those who lacked the discipline and self control necessary to succeed.