Get To Know Pt. 8: The One and Only Mr. Clarke
When you think back on your days in high school, there will always be that one teacher who stands out as the one who made you feel especially seen, motivated you, or challenged you to reach your full potential when you didn’t even know it was possible. I know that at least for me, Mr. Clarke fits these criteria ten times over. I had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Clarke many months ago when he was a new face around Parker. When the person you’re interviewing makes a formal interview feel like a catch-up conversation with an old friend, you know you’re talking to the right person.
1. Who is a fictional character who you are (or have previously been) in love with?
Lots of silence on this one. He’s thinking hard.
Wow… Do I have to be in love? I guess I have some I adore… I’ll go with Dumbledore from Harry potter or Robin Williams’ character in Dead Poets Society. Mr… What’s his name? ‘Oh captain my captain.’ Inspiring figures who buck the trend of typical education and encourage creative agency within students, asserting “why not be a poet? Everybody can be a poet”. Love it.
2. What is your latest run-in with the police?
Hehe. Um… My LATEST was coming out of KTA shopping center. I am sometimes that person who backs out of my parking space and THEN puts on my seatbelt…maybe it’s a generational thing because back when I was your age, seatbelts seemed like more of an optional thing. A cop was actually right next to me and yelled ‘put on your seatbelt!’ It was kind of aggressive.
3. How early do you go to sleep at night?
Typically, weeknights 11:30, weekends between 11:30 and 1. It’s rare that I’m not in bed by 1:00 AM.
4. What is the story behind your namesake?
Short answer: The quick answer is that I am named after my dad, David. My middle name is after my maternal grandfather–Kenneth. The name people in Hawaii know me as… I don’t know if I want to tell this story… (he told me the story).
I left Parker in ‘99. I came back for a few alumni weddings… kids I stayed in touch with over the years. When I came back, they wanted to call me another name because “Mr. Clarke” was too reminiscent of high school. They didn’t want to call me David, so they decided to call me Davey. When I mentioned I DIDN’T want to be called that, it made them even more enthusiastic. They made a bet that they could get me to refer to myself as Davey by the end of the year… I doubted it. One of them eventually started introducing me as Uncle Davey to his students, and now they call me that and there’s plenty of students in the community who know me as Uncle Davey. And their PARENTS know me as Uncle Davey. For a senior class at Kanu, I was invited to give their graduation speech and I lost the bet because during the speech, I did refer to myself as what they all addressed me as: Uncle Davey.
5. Do you prefer the pool or beach and why?
Beach because… from the time I was 12 and a half until the time I was roughly 22, I spent on average 4-5 hours in a pool per day… It kind of formed my identity. I like to swim still, but it took me a while to get back in the water/pool once my competitive days were over. I can’t help but notice how long I’m taking to do things when I’m in a pool because I am so reminded of the competition, and that feeling doesn’t exist for me when I’m swimming in the ocean.
6. What was the best birthday of your life?
It was my 42nd birthday. I was with friends up in Lake Placid, New York. Lake Placid used to be an olympic village, which is neat. I went cross-country skiing with a friend, it was 43 degrees below zero and it was perfect. It was a great weekend–good food, good people, good everything. Good people and good fun.
7. What’s something you’re looking forward to?
I’m looking forward to getting back to traveling as a more frequent thing… it’s a bit of a hassle and it has been for a few years (because of Covid). I’m looking forward to checking some destinations off my bucket list and returning to France. Provence, France–it’s in the southern countryside of France–is one of my favorite places in the world. It’s very very beautiful–lots of lavender fields, although I have to admit my favorite parts are the markets, the bread, and cheese. American produce tastes muted compared to the stuff in France.
8. What is something you’re binge watching?
I’ve recently been watching the Miyazaki Studio Ghibli movies---Castle in the Sky, Howl's Moving Castle, Spirited away… etc. I love them.
9. When was the last time you cried?
I sometimes cry at the end of the summer program I host– saying goodbye to the staff or the students makes me well up a bit.
A key component of my nostalgia once I graduate will no doubt include how close I felt to my teachers, including Mr. Clarke. Mr. Clarke’s genuine love for people and his eagerness to include as many voices in a conversation as he can demonstrates just how fortunate we are to have him at our small school.
If you get the chance, I highly recommend stopping in his office before the end of a school year–whether to quarrel about the best Studio Ghibli movies, introduce yourself, or just have a nice conversation, he’s your guy.