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NJ principal Joe Clark, who inspired ‘Lean on Me,’ dead at 82


#Joe #Clark, the baseball bat-wielding former #New #Jersey principal who was the inspiration for the 1989 movie “Lean on #Me,” has died after a long battle with an unspecified illness, his family said.

#Clark was 82.

The longtime #South #Orange resident, who was played by #Morgan #Freeman in the hit movie he inspired, died #Tuesday surrounded by his family in his retirement home in #Gainesville, #Florida, the family said.

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“Rest #In #Peace #Dad…. I am so grateful for your never ending love,” one of his daughters, former #Olympic runner #Hazel #Clark, wrote on #Twitter.

The former #Army #Reserve sergeant and drill instructor found notoriety for the tough discipline he instilled while principal of troubled #Eastside #High #School in #Paterson from 1983 to 1989.

#He famously roamed the halls with a bullhorn and baseball bat — getting him the nickname “Batman” — and once expelled 300 students in a single day for fighting, vandalism, abusing teachers and drug possession.

#Clark’s get-tough methodology soon saw him featured on “60 #Minutes,” “The #Arsenio #Hall #Show” and the cover of #Time magazine in 1988.

#He was even offered a part of #Ronald #Reagan’s administration in 1988 as a policy advisor, which #Clark declined.

The 1989 film that took inspiration from him grossed $31 million at the box office and was awarded outstanding motion picture at the 1989 NAACP #Image #Awards.

#Freeman called #Clark a “charismatic magician” in an interview that same year, hailing the principal’s “amazing control over his school and his students.”

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#He recalled how #Clark was pivotal in getting students to cooperate with scenes shot at #Eastside.

“He got up in front of the students and said, ‘You know, they’re going to be making the picture, and we are the stars. #So let’s give them every help we can.’ #And by #George, that’s what they did,” #Freeman said.

The same year that “Lean on #Me” was released, #Clark left #Eastside and 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.

#New #Jersey #Gov. #Phil #Murphy on #Wednesday praised him for having “dedicated his life to educating #New #Jersey’s youth.”

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“He will be missed,” he tweeted. #Clark was born in #Georgia, with his family settling in #New #Jersey when he was six, initially in #Newark.

#As well as guiding his students, #Clark was the father of “New #Jersey’s most storied track and field family,” the family statement said.

#Both his daughters — #Hazel and #Joetta #Clark #Diggs — ran in the #Olympics, while #Joe #Clark, #Jr, or JJ, is an accomplished athlete who is now director of track and field and cross country at #Stanford #University, the family said. #He is also survived by three grandchildren, #Talitha, #Jorell, and #Hazel.

#With #Post wires





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https://nypost.com/2020/12/30/nj-principal-joe-clark-who-inspired-lean-on-me-dead-at-82/

#principal ##Joe ##Clark #inspired ##Lean #dead

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