The end of an era in New Jersey with the death of Joe Clark (Opinion)
With the passing of former principal Joe Clark, it's apparent that they don't make men like that anymore. Or at least people are not allowed to be a Joe Clark anymore.
Clark was the principal of Paterson's East Side High School in the 1980s and his story was the inspiration for the movie "Lean on Me." He was a tough disciplinarian who earned the respect of many of his staff and students through hard work and an unwavering dedication to his job and the people it affected.
Joe Louis Clark didn't care about the criticism he received. He just knew his way was the only way to reach those kids and to put them on a better path in life. He was the kind of man that we rarely see today. There wasn't a fear of losing his pension or being badmouthed around school or around the state. He just did what he had to do with the kind of strong leadership that is rarely seen today.
Before becoming a teacher and eventually principal, Mr. Clark was a drill instructor in the Army Reserves. Can you imagine a principal today that would carry around a bullhorn and a baseball bat to get kids to fall in line and listen? No way in today's world would a Joe Clark be allowed to operate that way, and what a shame.
Sometimes what kids need is a strong disciplinarian and role model to follow. Sadly, there are few of those today. The kids who were there at East Side High School in Paterson in the 1980s, the ones who wanted to be there to learn, loved and admired him. They knew they needed him then and we sure as hell need him more than ever now. That's why his passing is truly the end of an era.
There will never be another one like him and we're all the worse for that. Rest in peace, Joe Clark. You deserve it and our eternal respect.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Dennis Malloy. Any opinions expressed are Dennis's own.