Clay Clark is a teacher and coach at Magdalena schools. He wears multiple hats in both roles for the Steers.
What is your role here at Magdalena Schools?
I am the CTE teacher. I also teach welding and woodworking. I also coach JV Basketball.
What grades do you teach?
Mainly high school level. I have one middle school woodworking class. Overall I have six periods of instruction time and one prep period during the school week.
What kind of equipment are you able to work with in the classroom?
We have a great shop out here. There are four big wire feeds. Five multi-purpose welding machines are at our disposal. A nice CNC machine. Plasma cutters. We have a state of the art welding shop.
Do you prefer teaching welding or woodworking?
I’m naturally more of a welder. I have more experience there but I do really enjoy woodworking with the students also. Both take a lot of skill.
How did you get into the welding/woodworking field?
Before I became an educator, I worked in a welding fabrication shop for six years at James Hamilton Construction in Silver City.
How did you get into education?
When I first moved to Magdalena from Silver City, I opened a feed store called Clark’s Feed and Supply. I owned and operated it for about 10 years from 1997 before finally selling it in 2006. While I had my business, I took online classes and I got a teaching degree from Western Governors University.
Why did you want to go into education?
It’s kind of a funny story. Coach Mirabal here would come in and buy cattle feed from our shop which is when me and him got to talking basketball. I played basketball at Cliff High School, so I had a background there as well. He asked me if I wanted to come coach with him and it sounded like a good opportunity. My wife Leslie Clark was also an educator here, she’s the principal here at Magdalena now. I could see that I wasn’t going to end up with any kind of retirement with the path I was going on so I decided that education might be a good path towards having a retirement someday.
What is your mentality when it comes to coaching?
Ultimately I want these kids to come out as good people when they’re done. The trials and tribulations that come with sports is very good for kids because not everything goes your way all the time. You have to keep working at it and moving forward. If you put in the hard work, you will get rewarded for it.
Where were you born and raised?
Silver City, New Mexico. I was there my whole life until I went to college down in Douglas, Arizona. I graduated from Cliff in 1989.
How was it growing up in Silver City?
It was good. Great community. My dad Larry Clark worked in the mines and my mother Jan was great in raising me and my siblings Kelly, Audrey and Kim. We’ve all had success on our different paths. It was one of the best places to grow up.
What was it like leaving Silver City?
It wasn’t much of a transition for me. Myself, I like small communities and other than my time in Arizona, Silver City is a lot like Magdalena. For me, I feel like I was able to fall into this town and it felt like home to me. It was easy.
What has been the best part working here at Magdalena Schools?
This place has a strong family feel. We all work together as one group. The kids are very respectful. It’s an easy place to teach. Easy place to coach. The community is behind our programs. I love Magdalena and I don’t think I would want to go anywhere else.
What is your favorite movie?
“Conagher” with Sam Elliot. He has some quotes in there that I use all the time.
My favorite is when his character got in a fight and he gets a black eye. A little kid comes up and asks him how did you get that black eye? Conagher goes “Nobody gave it to me son. I fought for it.”
If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be?
I really liked it when I was down there in Arizona. Of all the places there, probably Tucson, Arizona. I like the mild climate. Plus I like to team rope and you can do that year round down there.
If you won the lottery tomorrow, what would you do with that money?
I would share it with all of my family. I feel like that would be the right thing to do. Help out my kids Tyler and Brett, as well as my three grandkids Cash, Ava and Gemma.
If you could change one thing in Magdalena as well as Socorro County, what would it be?
I don’t know how to do it, but we have got to help the homeless population. That group needs some attention and help.
Driving from here to Socorro and back you see these people on the streets struggling and I would like to see us find a way to help the homeless population.