History teacher with boundless energy, classroom full of artifacts has big fan base

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ST. JOHN, Ind.-- Our teacher of the month is a history buff, and his students are reaping the benefits.

Tristan Pintor, student: “Kids usually don’t like history, and they don’t because it’s boring, but how he teaches is incredible.”

Tom Clark, Teacher of the Month: “You know history is boring so my goal is to change their attitude.”

Tom Clark has been teaching history at Lake Central High School in St. John Indiana for 30 years. His student fan base, so we hear, is huge.

Jovana Dodevska, nominating student: “He makes history very interesting. He doesn’t just rely on power points. He makes it dynamic with props.”

And boy does he have props -- a classroom full of historical artifacts awaiting each class and curious others.

Clark’s students say Clark himself is a little of everything -- starting with his boundless energy on display the day of our visit.

Tristan Pintor: “Most teachers would just put on a show for this, but this is every day, every class. And he gets us fired up, just ready to go.”

Tom Clark: “I come here about 4 or 5 o’clock in the morning way before school, and I can’t wait for them to come in here. They motivate me to be a better teacher.”

Sarah Bredar, student: “Mr. Clark is not just a teacher, he is an experience. I didn’t really know a lot of people in my class, but Mr. Clark reached out and he was able to not only affect everyone’s interest in history, but also help them grow as a person.”

Isaiah Billot, student: “And honestly since I have been in this class he has made me consider becoming an educator because he is so incredible. Every day I am in here he just touches my heart. I am so happy for him. I can’t stop smiling.”

Jovana Dodevska, nominating student: “When I saw the commercial on TV for teacher of the month I said no one deserves the honor more than Mr. Clark. He has helped me so much in my high school experience. I came into high school not caring about history, but he completely changed all of that.”

Tom Clark, Teacher of the Month: “I think this award to me is more meaningful than anything I have ever received because it came from a student.”

And for a job well done, Clark received a thousand dollar check from Saint Xavier University and a plaque from WGN.

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7 comments

  • Kim (Pavich) Turner

    I was in Mr. Clark’s class when the Berlin Wall came down. His excitement was contagious. I recall him telling us, very vehemently, “History is happening now!” He’s very deserving of this and I’m not the least bit surprised he’s still as enthusiastic and admired. Way to go, Mr. Clark. :)

  • Bob Gillespie

    I had Mr Clark as a teacher about 30 years ago, the year after I left his students were assigned the job of locating veterans of unclaimed war medals. Best teacher I ever had.

  • A Student

    Too bad he doesn’t care about his regular classes. He treats us like we are the stupidest people in the world because we aren’t in his AP class. I’m an honors student and decided to opt out of AP US History because I already had a huge workload. I don’t like the condescending tone he gives me and the rest of his class. His stories ARE exciting, but when I realized that I got a 75 on my final because he didn’t teach the material, I was pretty upset. To cover up all of these bad grades on the final, he gave us a 20% bonus on the test. So I ended up with a 95%. He’s not a good teacher. BUT he is a good story teller. I’ll give him that. And he also does many good things with the deceased Vietnam Veterans trying to figure out what happend to them and locating families. But, I’ve also noticed that he has tried to implant his conservative ideas onto students MANY times. Teachers can’t do that. There is a reason I go to a PUBLIC school. Honestly, I’ll probably never forget how ridiculous this class was.

  • Mackenzie Hoffman

    I’m glad he got this reward, he deserves it. His search for Indiana War Veterans is still going on strong. Both of my brother have had him and they loved it, and I will hopefully have him as my teacher in a few years, and I can’t wait.