“Now there’s a lot more work there to the point where I had to decide how much one person could do, so I have resigned my position as lead administrator.”
Eric Clark is stepping down from his position as the Elyria Christian School administrator in order to impact schoolchildren and their teachers nationwide.
“I’ve been working with Larry Thompson for the last 14 years with Responsibility-Centered Discipline and Responsibility-Focused Leadership. For a while it worked so that I could do both, but the tides shifted,” Clark said. “Now there’s a lot more work there to the point where I had to decide how much one person could do, so I have resigned my position as lead administrator.”
Clark taught at Hesston High School for 10 years and was the Moundridge Middle School and assistant High School Principal for three years before coming to ECS. Clark hopes to stay connected to the Elyria community in other capacities.
“I hope I would have the opportunity to do marketing and development here if possible. If they’ll allow me to keep doing it, then I will. My kids will continue to go to school here. It was not an easy decision for me. I love the people here and feel like they do a tremendous job. The board president Greg Fields and assistant administrator Rhonda Stucky have been great support pieces for me.”
Thompson’s program, developed from his experiences teaching in central Kansas, has gained popularity in recent years and increased demands on Clark as a master trainer and consultant for RCD.
“Larry Thompson had some rough schools before he became the principal at Hesston, so out of those challenges, he said, ‘We have to do this differently.’ We argue that taking the time to create positive classroom management, everything else takes care of itself in regards to student achievement,” Clark said. “Part of the reason why it’s caught fire is because we’re starting to see these lasting affects on our kids across the United States. The school has been very generous with me when I’m gone a lot. I start my circuit early next month and I’ll do one-day seminars all over.”
Responsibility-centered discipline reimagines traditional discipline models. Rather than take away a student’s ability to correct a mistake by placing them in detention or suspension, responsibility-centered discipline requires a student to take ownership of their actions.
“It promotes dignity and respect through the process instead of being an obedience-based model. The idea is that the kids learn how to manage and self-regulate. It’s pretty powerful,” Clark said. “The part I’m passionate about is that I want my own children to be treated with dignity and respect and I would hope that parents across the country would want that as well.”
The program also creates accountability for teachers and administrators modeling the program. On the leadership side, the program is also used in the business world to create a culture of owning one’s mistakes, rather than confronting employees.
“It applies virtually anywhere. The reality of it is that kids are still kids and kids misbehave. It doesn’t matter what we put in place, but it’s in our nature to not meet expectations,” Clark said. “Whether we’re in a private Christian school or in a juvenile correctional facility, we’ve worked with almost all types of schools and all schools have problems with student behavior. It’s just how you want to address it.”