Lean On Me Essay

Summary: This essay is about Mr. Joe Clark, the Prinicpal of Eastside High School in the film "Lean on Me."


The most important character in "Lean On Me" is Mr. Joe Clark, the former teacher at Eastside high school and later, the school's principal. Joe's character is interesting and admirable. Throughout the film, we learn that although he seems to be a dictatorial, he is committed and determined to save the school and he also cares for the school's students.

The most obvious characteristic of Joe is that he is a dictatorial. Clark used dictatorship to control and manage the school when he became its principal. For example; in his first meeting with the staff, he was going around giving orders and shuffling teachers into new positions. He even said, "Discipline is not the enemy of enthusiasm. This is not a damned democracy. We are in a state of emergency and my word is law", verifying that he approves of dictatorship and thinks it is the only way...

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You know the old song “Lean on Me,” by Bill Withers? What a simple song that to any average person is just another tune on the radio. But to me, that song emphasizes a belief that I’ve had for most of my life. I believe that everyone needs someone to depend on—to know they’re there for you no matter what.

For me, I rely on my identical twin brother, Tanner. Yes, we have the same DNA, so in that respect we have as close a bond as you can get. The only things that make me different from him are my personal experiences. But despite the close genetic bond, I think we share a brotherhood that is different from all other brothers. We go through the same things, think the same way, and even get on each other’s nerves, only because we can’t be separated. Something as small as shooting hoops without him feels odd. Now I don’t mean to sound mushy, but I don’t know how else to put it. Because of our bond, we need each other, depend on each other.

I can recall certain times when we needed each other, like running a hard cross-country meet, or even harder times like going to a new middle school with completely new friends. But there is one specific time in my life when I made the connection that everyone needs someone to lean on when life gets hard, and for me, that one person is my brother.

The moment I realized this was after my bone graft surgery. Tanner and I were born with cleft lip and palate, and this was one of many procedures we needed to have done. We were both getting the surgery done on the same day. After the surgery, I was aching in pain all over, had horrible nausea, and was sick of the antiseptic smell of the hospital room. I was really ready to go home. My thinking was in and out; I was sleeping a lot and eating little. I was just feeling pretty alone when my mind told me to look to my left, to my bedside. There, I saw Tanner, all sick and tired, just like me. He was going through everything I was. He knew just how I felt. I sat there and realized that this is why we are so close. No one on earth knows me as well as he does. Without him, I felt alone. But with him there, I knew I could get through it.

Right then, I came to believe that everyone needs someone to lean on. Whether it’s a mother and a child, two inseparable friends, a husband and a wife, or even a dog and its owner. Everyone needs someone to rely on in this life. We cannot live life alone.

Is it a simple belief, like in Bill Withers’s song? Yes. Is it powerful? More than powerful, it’s true. I believe we all need somebody to lean on.

Cole Dowdy wrote this essay for an assignment by his eighth-grade teacher at East Oldham Middle School. He now goes to South Oldham High School, where he enjoys running cross- country and track. Mr. Dowdy lives with his family in Crestwood, Kentucky, a small town just outside of Louisville.

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