Looking To Tomorrow With Mike Clark


Retiring Pine Strawberry School Principal/Superintendent Michael Clark (right) was never too busy to pitch in where needed, always going the extra mile. He is pictured here cleaning up the gym after the annual Christmas tree auction.

Retiring Pine Strawberry School Principal/Superintendent Michael Clark (right) was never too busy to pitch in where needed, always going the extra mile. He is pictured here cleaning up the gym after the annual Christmas tree auction. Photo by Joy Hafford. |

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On behalf of the Pine Strawberry community, we extend our appreciation to Superintendent/Principal Michael Clark, for devoting 21 years to education and specifically for his eight years as principal at P/S School. Over that time the community, and especially the children, have observed his knowledge, hard work and commitment to every child, family and the community in which he has served.

In addition to his work as the school’s administrator, Clark has served on the board of the Isabelle Hunt Memorial Library, Rim Country Literacy Program, Gila County Sheriff’s Posse, Zane Grey Country Kiwanis and is an active member of the posse and Kiwanis.

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Dressed in a period costume, Pine Strawberry Historical Society Museum volunteers Neil Morrison describes to visitors how pioneers built the Strawberry Schoolhouse in 1884.

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Donna Barker speaks to a group of adults and children on June 16 in a re-enactment of school in the early 1900s at the Strawberry Schoolhouse.

With the sheriff’s posse, he has provided security for various functions within the county, traffic control at multiple events in Pine and the surrounding community, transporting inmates, back-up for deputies and serving warrants. With Kiwanis, he participated in multiple fund-raising activities to provide scholarships for graduating high school seniors and performed service projects for multiple organizations within the community.

As an educator, Clark served as a professor of military science at New Mexico State University, a high school teacher, high school dean of students, high school principal, school district assistant superintendent and school district superintendent.

Under his leadership, the P/S School has adapted to a changing educational environment and seen innovations in education and, most recently, in the acquisition of environmentally friendly green energy, bringing substantial cost savings to the school, district and community. At the same time, the school has maintained a friendly, nurturing and welcoming atmosphere and preserved small-town values instilled by the pioneers who built the Strawberry Schoolhouse in 1884.

Clark acknowledges that numerous changes in the educational process are upon us and will continue to be so in the future. He advises stakeholders that, “Business as usual is not an option. Be flexible and receptive to what is here and what is coming. Don’t panic when the first PARCC test scores are published in 2014. They will be lower than past AIMS scores, that’s the nature of the beast. Your students are currently, and will continue to, do well. This will be reflected in better scores as the PARCC test evolves and students/teachers adapt to the change.”

His motto is “Learn from yesterday ... Live for today ... Look to tomorrow ... Rest this afternoon” — a favorite quote of his from the great philosopher Snoopy.

As principal, Clark has invested his talents into P/S School and the students. We know that he will continue to impart wisdom and exercise leadership even as he retires on June 30, when he will continue to work at his church and participate in posse and Kiwanis activities.

He also plans to start working on the “honey-do” list that his wife, Jan has compiled since her own retirement from the school last year and also do some traveling “although,” he said, “most of it was accomplished during my 26 years in the Army.”

The retiring principal who was never too busy to roll up his sleeves and pitch in where needed — consistently going the extra mile — may now actually find time for that afternoon siesta. One thing for sure, he will continue to work hard on behalf of the P/S community and remain a source of inspiration, integrity and a blessing to others in all his future endeavors. Happy retirement Principal/ Superintendent Clark!

Trail Work

Come join other trail enthusiasts to work on the new trail in Pine from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, June 22. Lunch will be provided on the trail courtesy of the Mountain Bike Association of Arizona. Snacks will also be provided. Long-sleeved shirts, long pants, hiking/work boots, hats and gloves are required. Tools will be available. Be sure you have adequate water.

The work area is on the east side of Highway 87 at milepost 270. Additional parking is across the highway at the Strawberry Trailhead.

Please RSVP as soon as possible so they will know how many lunches to prepare and also let them know if you have any dietary restrictions. On the menu are grilled burgers and brats. If you have a dish you’d like to share, please feel free to contribute.

Registration is open for the Fire on the Rim Mountain Bike Race, to be held Sept. 14. If you’ve worked on the trail you can get a $5 discount by using the code “pinestrawtrail” when you register.

Please invite anyone you know who would like to help.

There will also be a volunteer meeting for Fire on the Rim on June 25 and the announcement for that is at www.fireontherim.com/volunteer

Library Friends

On June 24 enjoy a tasty meal with Pine Friends of the Library at their annual potluck luncheon at noon in the Library Activity Room, behind the Pine Cultural Hall. You are invited to bring your spouse or a friend and enjoy a wonderful meal prepared by some of the best cooks in the Rim Country.

Some Other News

“For anyone who has ever tried to turn on to Ralls Drive in Strawberry and felt like they were going to be rear-ended or T-boned — I have great news!” reports Hoop Bramoff. “Thanks to ADOT meeting with me a couple of months ago, we now have Ralls Drive highway signs. They are already working, because when Lisa turned in yesterday the vehicle behind her realized that there was actually a road coming up and slowed down.” 

In other news, for anyone who might have missed it last Saturday, the Ron Gibson Band will perform again Friday at the Strawbeary Bear from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. — and, believe it or not, they have a set of real drums! How often do you see that anymore?

A Big Riff-Raff Thanks

The Riff-Raff Club thanks the community for support of the “Naked” Yard Sale. It was the best ever in the club’s history. It will go a long way in helping families and the food bank this Thanksgiving.

Recapping mid-June fun

I can’t believe that another Strawberry Patchers Quilt Show and Strawberry Festival have come and gone and we’re counting down to the 4th of July Arts and Crafts Guild Festival. I’ll fill you in on all of that next week including the 17th annual Quilt Show winners.

I am also counting down to my 100th P/S Happenings column — just eight more to go! That’s 92 columns filled with fun festivals, events and great people that make our small towns enormously special.

Thanks for helping to keep them coming by sending events to haffordjoy1@ gmail.com.

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