Mr. Clark: A Man Driven By Curiosity

Johnny Lam, Student Contributor

“You need to keep learning and keep striving to understand things.”Born in 1962 in Logan, Utah, Jay Clark grew up as the youngest in a large family of sixteen, all with performing talent. He grew up loving technical theater and formed his own tech theater company in 1980 when he was 18 years old. A year later he was married to his dear wife Lynda while studying at Utah State University. Within 10 years, they gave birth to six children, five of which are now parents.
Mr. Clark was once a curious 13-year-old boy who had an interest in stagecraft, and now at age 58, he has been a part of nearly 10,000 professional stage performances throughout the country and is a major contributor to productions by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
What drives Mr. Clark? What caused him to be so successful? “A permanent curiosity, and the ability to understand that you don’t know everything,” he said. “You need to keep learning and keep striving to understand things.”
He was taught this lesson by several people throughout his career. “I had some great mentors in my life,” Jay reminisced. “When I first started the company, I was working with a guy named Danny Franks who was a major lighting designer in New York. I asked how we were going to solve a lighting problem. He said he didn’t know. I said: ‘You’ve been in this business a long time, you don’t know how to solve this?’

I was surprised when he said: ‘The more you know, the more you figure out you don’t know.’ It took me a while to really get an appreciation for that.” Nearing the end of his career, Mr. Clark was ready to retire, but a job offer changed his mind. American Heritage School, a faith-based private education institution, needed a technical director and teacher. “I told my wife that, and we both laughed at the idea that it was a high school. At the time it just seemed like a step back.”

However, after seeing the school and meeting the principal, he called up his wife. “We’re really in trouble,” he told Lynda, “because I really like this school.”
He continues, “Everybody, when they’re older, they begin to wonder what legacy they’re going to leave. My mentors had an impact on me. I thought if I could dedicate myself in the right way, teaching is an opportunity to have that sort of impact on students.”
Mr. Clark has always had a passion for teaching. He loves to spark an interest in other people. “It’s working with those kids and seeing how eager they were to learn, when you get them excited about something,” he said. “When you teach them a new concept and you see in their eyes and they go ‘Oohhh! I get it!’ It was really looking at those kids, and seeing that these are the kids we’re molding. I left the school feeling like I just had to be there.” After over 40 years in the theater business, he became a teacher for AHS in 2017.
“If I had realized what it was like working here with all the students, I would’ve quit my job at the Church years earlier and bailed down here. This is the best thing I’ve done.”