New DHS principal hits the ground running

Published 7:39 pm Tuesday, July 7, 2009

There will be one new face that stands out in particular at Demopolis High School on the first day back this August.

Leon Clark is currently in the midst of his first week as the new principal at Demopolis. While most in the community recognize that he is the new administrator at the high school, most do not realize exactly what Clark brings to the table in his new role.

Originally from Taylorsville, Miss., Clark is a self-described “Navy brat.”

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Clark’s father served in the Navy for twenty years, and the family settled down in Taylorsville at his retirement. Clark graduated from the same high school that he would eventually serve as a teacher, coach, assistant principal and principal.

Clark’s decision to become an educator stemmed from the sense of community and guidance he felt at Taylorsville.

“When I was in high school, I had several male role models that were principals, assistant principals and coaches,” Clark explained. “Being able to go back to my hometown helped lead me into administration.”

Clark attended college at Jones Junior College in Ellisville, Mississippi, and received his bachelors and masters degree from the University of Southern Mississippi. Clark began his teaching career in 1972 as the physical education teacher and baseball, assistant football and boys and girls basketball coach at Forrest County Agricultural High School. After Taylorsville, Clark also served as an administrator at both East Union High School and Starkville High School before retiring from the Mississippi school system.

In Alabama, Clark has served as principal at both Thomasville High School and Valley High School.

Having served as principal of Thomasville High School from 2002 until 2006, Clark is very familiar with the athletic rivalry that exists between his former and current schools.

“I like it,” Clark said. “But my loyalties are always with the school I’m at. I can’t wait for that game at the end of the season.”

Although they were rivals on the football field, Clark had close connections with Demopolis High School during his tenure there.

“I’ve always heard that Demopolis is a great community and had dealings with Demopolis,” Clark explained. “Dr. Espy and I exchanged ideas about academics and extracurriculars at Thomasville and Demopolis. He gave me some ideas and it’s my understanding I gave him some as well.”

Clark is enthusiastic about the current direction of Demopolis High School.

“The school has great support. The school system is doing well—it has great test scores and graduation rates,” Clark said. “I’ve always been impressed with it.”

Yet Clark still sees an opportunity for improvement.

“With the economy the way it is, competition is high, and students need to be better prepared,” Clark explained. “The goal is always to work toward helping students be successful.”

Clark is so enthusiastic about helping students succeed that he claims it is his primary hobby.

“Being part of the school and community activities is my biggest hobby,” Clark said. “I’ve also played golf and hunted, but my job doesn’t dictate the time to do that.”

Clark’s family is also very important to him. He is married to Susan, a speech pathologist at an elementary school in Lee County. Clark’s son, Reggie, is in seminary in Lousville, and his daughter, Lindsay, lives in Atlanta with her husband.

Clark and his wife also has a black cat named Ashler.

Clark’s primary goal in his new position is to gain more support for the high school.

“I’m available and I will solicit support for our school, students, and teachers,” Clark explained. “It is important that we continue to have strong community support.”