5-5-2017 – Norco – Meet Major Brian Clark from Norco High School. He is a Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) and Senior Aerospace Science Instructor.
He has been teaching for seven years. Before teaching, Major Clark served in the United State Air Force.
“As a military member you spend most of your career teaching in one capacity or another, whether it be those who work with you or the community with whom you are serving,” he says, “You are taught by the military and in return you are expected to teach your team members and those you supervise. As a civilian, however, I have been teaching for about 7 years.”
This is his third year teaching JROTC at Norco High.
“I taught as a volunteer for two years at the middle school level, a year as a substitute teaching special education from Pre-K to Adult Education, a year teaching Adult Moderate/Severe Special Education,” he says, “And this is my third year teaching JROTC.”
He became a teacher to shape the world.
“I think it’s a hard task for a single man or woman to shape the world alone but as a teacher, our impact is exponential,” he says.
He believes if one can equip the youth with the knowledge and tools to want more, do more, and always strive to do better, one can improve the world one student, one citizen, at a time.
“Where else can this be exponentially possible but as a teacher!’ he says, “I see, interact with, and attempt to teach 100 students a year in our program. But that does not include the scores of other kids that come and go throughout our academic lives.”
By doing his best to teach his students and impart to them the tools for their success, Major Clark believes he helps shape them and the future of the world.
“We can sit around and complain about the state of our world or we can give our youth the tools for change,” he says, “No one is in a better position to do this than a teacher.”
Major Clark earned a Bachelors degree from Wayland Baptist University and a Masters degree from Webster University.
“My education has been a long, very winding, but exciting road,” he says, “And it’s not over yet.”
He earned his first Teaching Credential in Special Education at California Baptist University (CBU). His second Teaching Credential in Designated Subject Special Subjects in Physical Fitness and Military Drill at University of California, Riverside (UCR) and is currently finishing his third Teaching Credential in Physical Education at CBU.
“When I submitted my transcripts, it was a stack of 11 from the various universities and colleges I have attended throughout my military career,” he says, “College hopping was not a choice, merely a byproduct of moving because of my military career.”
His favorite part of teaching is watching his students move forward.
“Each of them comes with a different tool set and in a different place than their peers,” he says, “Regardless of where they start, our job is to help them continue forward.”
The best advice he has received was given by his brother, also a teacher. It was to be content with small successes but always hope and push for more.
“It’s an awesome responsibility, and privilege, to be a part of the community that builds the future; for all of these youth are our future,” he says, “Each one that passes through our doors will take up the mantle of our future in some way. Our impact and influence help shape what the world will be for us, for them, and for our children’s children. What a great responsibility that is as well as an honor.”
His teaching philosophy is simple, everybody learns from everybody.
“Throughout my college career, I have likely written half a dozen such philosophies, but I think it all comes down to one simple truth, we learn from each other,” he says, “I do my best to learn from my students, they, in turn, learn from me, and we figure out how to move forward together. I believe if we are moving forward we are achieving the goal educations asks of us. The rest is simply gradients of that goal – moving forward.”
There is no typical day in his classroom.
“No matter how much we plan each day it becomes an exercise in adaptation and improvisation. But that is both the curse and the beauty of being a teacher,” he says, “I believe we spend a great deal of our time adapting and improvising ‘after the first shot is fired’. I don’t think anyone does this quite so well as teachers. Mothers, and combat troops, and I have the greatest respect for all of them.”
Research is his favorite hobby.
“Knowledge of any kind in anything I do not know or understand, from how a pill bug has gills rather than lungs to how light is created when electrons hop,” he says, “I can become lost in front of a computer for hours on end chasing rabbit holes I never intended to fall into that started from a random image on Google. As an Intelligence Officer in the military this was sometimes a curse, often a success, but always an education.”
His favorite phrase for the majority of his career has been “Cowboy up or quit.”
“One would hope no one would just quit but rather “cowboy up” instead. The phrase does not really have any middle ground and if you think about it, it only gives you one valid choice – to cowboy up,” he says, “Quitting is not really a valid option for anyone so it reminds us all to simply “cowboy up” and get it done.”
Major Clark and his wife, Krystal, have three children, Alannah Malina (2), Brennan Nathan (5 months), and Christopher Brian (30).
“When I told my brother I was having a daughter at 46 his response was ‘Are you crazy!”, “he says, “Well, that was actually what followed, “Congratulations.” I find, however, that it is a perfect time to start a family. Krystal is the patient and the loving pillar that holds it all together. I look forward to all the great things I will learn teaching, the things I will teach my children, and all that falls in between.”
The best advice he can give is one that was once given to him.
“There is only one true and straight path but none of us, no matter how perfect, will ever travel it straight. We all deviate, take wild turns and deviations, reverse direction, and in some cases, go completely off-roading for a while. But, all that is asked of us is that we continue to “try” and keep it straight. That we continue to turn and make course corrections as we attempt to keep on that path. As long as we continue to make course corrections and do our best to return to the path we are doing what has been asked of us- what is expected. In a nutshell, keep making course corrections until you get it right.”