Michael Clark was one of the early Pride Foundation Scholars. In 1995, Michael received support as he finished his bachelor’s degree and was pursuing a career in teaching. Upon receiving his credentials, Michael set out on his lifelong dream of teaching middle school band. In the many years since, Michael’s students have fallen in love with music, tested their abilities as artists, been brave and worked as a team at competitions, and most important, been welcomed in to a positive classroom environment with visible LGBTQ leadership.
More recently, Michael was inspired to pursue a doctoral degree with the aim of becoming a school principal. He believed that he wanted to be in such a leadership role in order to create a hopeful school environment where everyone is welcome and encouraged, and where dignity and respect are core values. In the long run, Michael has his eye on the being the first openly gay leader of Washington’s Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.
This vision brought him back to Pride Foundation in 2013 as a scholarship applicant. Michael’s journey completed the full circle of one who has already made a huge investment in the community as an educator and as the former conductor of the Rainbow City Band, and as a long-time partner and grant recipient at Pride Foundation.
Michael shared: “Receiving a Pride Foundation scholarship early on was one of the greatest compliments of my life. It meant my own people believed in me, supported my dreams. To this day, I carry that support with me as I celebrate the successes of my students and as I have the ability to be there for my kids. We all have to keep paying it forward and believe in those who come after you.”
Energy. Uplifting. Transformational. These are the words Michael shared when asked to describe Pride Foundation. From the quiet teenager in the back of the classroom who sees his life now full of possibilities, Mr. Clark, we find you to be an embodiment of those sentiments as well.
Christina is Pride Foundation’s Community Giving Manager. Email Christina.