Menu Close

Pouring Into Others: John and Savannah

John’s passion wasn’t teaching, but rather sports. He loved playing basketball, but a conversation with his coach changed his outlook, prompting him to dedicate his life to changing others through teaching and coaching. John found joy in seeing others succeed and helping them discover their purpose, surpassing the excitement of winning championships. Speaking with Savannah, a high schooler aspiring to become a teacher, John shares his advice and experience, inspiring her to also pour her life into others. And so, the cycle of pouring life into others continues.


Find Out More:

CRISTA Senior Living | King’s SchoolsCRISTA Media | CRISTA Ministries


Sherri [00:00:09] Have you ever wish you could know what the future held before you got there? What if you were given the gift of knowledge before you even began your journey? Now, I’ve been thinking about that because I made a lot of stupid mistakes when I was younger, and I wish I had someone to say, “Don’t go down that road. But on this one.” I’m Sherri and welcome to From the Eyes of Wisdom, where we are pairing an experienced elder from Crista Senior Living with a passionate Kings High School student ready to launch into the world. And while these conversations won’t tell the future exactly, they did reveal a lot we weren’t expecting about how to live life well. Are you ready? I can’t wait for you to hear this. All right, John Peter Clarke. John’s okay, though, right?

John [00:01:02] John is fine.

Sherri [00:01:03] John is fine. And then Savannah is here. Okay, So, John, you coached and taught school for how long? How many years?

John [00:01:11] 36 years.

Sherri [00:01:12] 36 years. Wow. And, Savannah, you want to be a teacher and a coach? What do you want to coach?

Savannah [00:01:20] I was thinking about cheer. If I play cheer in college.

Sherri [00:01:23] Okay. So, cheerleading. You’d like to be a coach? All right, So, John, we thought we’d get some of your wisdom about teaching and coaching and life overall, and that would help Savannah and, you know, her life journey as maybe pursuing this. That good?

John [00:01:39] That sounds great to me.

Sherri [00:01:41] All right, let’s start with your childhood. Tell me a little bit about your childhood.

John [00:01:44] When I was seven years and three quarters, my dad left and my mom raised me and five younger brothers and sisters. And so I was raised on welfare.

Sherri [00:01:57] Okay.

John [00:01:59] Had to go out and work and find we didn’t have money to buy clothes if I wanted clothes. They didn’t have second hand shops. And so I didn’t have the advantage of getting cheap clothes.

Sherri [00:02:12] I think I heard them say that you…it was sports that kind of got you through high school. Is that right?

John [00:02:19] It was absolutely sports that got me through high school.

Sherri [00:02:22] Any specific sport?

John [00:02:24] Well, football and track and basketball were the three sports I participated in.

Sherri [00:02:29] Okay.

John [00:02:30] And it was because of a coach in high school, my track coach, when I was a freshman that got me thinking about being a teacher.

Sherri [00:02:40] Mm hmm.

John [00:02:41] There was just one statement that he made that really touched my heart. And he wasn’t a Christian, but he was an admirable older man.

Sherri [00:02:51] Okay.

John [00:02:52] And I had been coming back from a youth group, and he went by and saw me one night about 9:00 and we had a team meeting with all the team, which included the juniors and seniors. The big guys I looked up to.

Sherri [00:03:06] Yeah.

John [00:03:07] And he looks over and he says, “Clark, you’ve got to start taking care of those million dollar legs.” I was running the mile. They weren’t million dollar legs. Just the fact that he said that. I thought, man, I always I would like to be a coach.

Sherri [00:03:25] I love that. And I love for you to hear that, Savannah, because it’s like the littlest act of kindness can just change a person’s life, right? So is there any specific reason why you wanted to do coaching for cheer or just coaching overall? Is there something that was like that that interests me?

Savannah [00:03:45] For me, when I joined Kings, joining basketball was the way I made friends. Okay, so just as an opportunity to make a community for other people and like, make like some other people up for friendships maybe? And just make a community together. I think that would be the main reason, like uplifting the community.

Sherri [00:04:06] So let’s talk about you getting out of high school. You work a little bit first?

John [00:04:10] Yeah, I was going to school. I was working nights to pay for going to school in the daytime.

Sherri [00:04:18] Okay.

John [00:04:19] And I was going to sleep in my classes because I was awake all the time. The GI Bill was going out. The Korean GI Bill was going out the 31st of January.

Sherri [00:04:31] Okay. Now there’s there’s kids who have no idea what GI is. Bill is, Korea. They don’t know any of it. So just explain a little bit what that was.

John [00:04:42] That’s where the government gives you a certain amount of money to go to school.

Sherri [00:04:47] And you would serve in the armed forces for a little bit?

John [00:04:50] In the armed forces. So I joined the Air Force.

Sherri [00:04:53] Okay.

John [00:04:54] And I was in the Air Force for the better part of four years. I got out a little early to go to college.

Sherri [00:05:01] Where were you stationed?

John [00:05:02] I was stationed in Panama.

Sherri [00:05:03] Okay. Okay. You had met a girl when you were home before you went to Panama.

John [00:05:09] That’s right.

Sherri [00:05:10] Okay. And then? And then what’s. What was her name?

John [00:05:13] Her name is Jeanette.

Sherri [00:05:14] Jeanette. Okay, so you met Jeanette, and then you go to Panama.

John [00:05:17] And she was a junior in high school when I met her.

Sherri [00:05:20] Okay.

John [00:05:21] And she wanted to have a pen pal that was in the armed services and so I was her guinea pig.

Sherri [00:05:31] Okay.

John [00:05:32] Just wanted to be pen pals. I mean, it wasn’t anything romantic at all.

Sherri [00:05:37] Okay.

John [00:05:39] So I wrote back to her, and then she wrote back to me.

Sherri [00:05:43] Uh huh. And you’re answering these with your own?

John [00:05:46] I answer them because hey, I’m down there all by myself. There’s this beautiful girl, even though she was two years and two months younger than me.

Sherri [00:05:55] Uh huh.

John [00:05:59] I mean, we started feeling more and more. More and more emotion got into it.

Sherri [00:06:05] Through letters?

John [00:06:06] Through letters. Probably about seven or eight months into it.

Sherri [00:06:10] Mm hmm.

John [00:06:11] I get a letter, and she says. “John. I hope you don’t think I’m being forward, but I think I’m falling in love with you.”

Sherri [00:06:18] Oh.

John [00:06:19] And I wrote back. “Well, that’s just fine, because I know I’m falling in love with you.” And that was kind of this started. Then it did become romantic.

Sherri [00:06:28] Oh, my gosh. You feel like you, Jennette, God led you to her?

John [00:06:33] I believe that very sincerely. We got married three days after she graduated from high school. That was the next leave. I came home.

Sherri [00:06:42] Okay. Wow.

John [00:06:44] So we were together a total of 11 days before we got married. I mean, together physically.

Sherri [00:06:50] Yeah.

John [00:06:51] I would never recommend that.

Sherri [00:06:53] Okay.

John [00:06:55] I mean, unless God leads it.

Sherri [00:06:59] Yeah. But still, I just love that there’s something in the writing of something of knowing someone’s heart.

John [00:07:05] You’re right. You can share your heart through letters. Maybe better than you do in words?

Sherri [00:07:12] I think so. I think so. And when I was listening to your story, I was like, Yeah, that sounds right to me. So before I go on with your story,What should Savannah look for in a guy, can you give me two things?

John [00:07:26] First and foremost, does he love the Lord? Because if you’re unequally yoked with somebody that doesn’t love the Lord, It’s just probably a very heavily weighted that it will either not turn out well or…

Sherri [00:07:43] It’s going to be difficult.

John [00:07:44] It’ll be very difficult.

Sherri [00:07:46] It’s going to be difficult, yeah.

John [00:07:46] But I would say somebody who’s kind too. Not just kind to you, you know, kind to others and treat other people well, because if he treats other people well, he’ll probably treat you pretty well.

Sherri [00:08:00] Oh, I love that. And that’s good stuff. Now speaking of the Lord. Can you tell me a little bit about your spiritual journey? Like, how did you come to know the Lord? Was that during your teen years? You mentioned youth group where?

John [00:08:11] Ninth grade. Some guys had been asking me for a long time to go to a youth group. Finally, one night I told them I’d be there and we were out fishing about a mile and a half two miles up in the mountain.

Sherri [00:08:30] Yeah.

John [00:08:32] I had 20 minutes to get there and all of a sudden I realized and so I ran all the way down, went down there with my old fishy clothes and stinky clothes on. And the kids at the church were just playing volleyball. Okay, This one…seems like there’s a girl, always involved.

Sherri [00:08:55] There was a pretty girl at youth group?

John [00:08:56] Yeah, she was. And somehow she picked the ball off and she just was very silly and just went around and threw it. And it hit me right in the stomach. It sounded pretty bad, but it didn’t hurt.

Sherri [00:09:09] You acted it out, didn’t you?

John [00:09:12] You know me. You know me. I was not a Christian at that time.

Sherri [00:09:18] Okay.

John [00:09:19] But there was a guy that was two grades ahead of me. There was an athlete, and he took an interest in me and. Through him, through the example of the other kids and the words of him. The Lord speaking through him, I became a Christian. And became very involved. I was a Vice President of our Baptist youth group in Oregon.

Sherri [00:09:47] Wow.

John [00:09:49] So I grew up probably primarily through going to youth group and through Dick Jordall.

Sherri [00:09:58] Yeah, the kid.

John [00:10:00] Spending time with me.

Sherri [00:10:01] See, that’s what I love, is if you think about this specifically, Savannah at your age. Totally different culture now than it was then, right? So it can feel a little more difficult to share your faith. But thinking about here’s a kid who was two grades above you? Shares his faith. Look at this wonderful man sitting here now because of that, Just that. That seed of sharing his faith, showing you how he loves the Lord, what it can do. You know what I mean? When we talk about ministering, the people are talking to people now that I think we always think about stage, we think about microphone. No, this is a kid in a youth group who’s comfortable sharing his faith. And look. Right?

John [00:10:43] Well, let me just speak to you Savannah. You have a platform right now that kids look up to you. They do. And you will never know what some little thing you may say to some underclassman or maybe one of those freshman girls on the cheer team. And how you treat her and things of how much that will affect her. And it’s going to be that way all through life. That just as long as you’re faithful and just sharing little things, you don’t have to make big prophetic statements. That’s a person’s life.

Sherri [00:11:20] Yeah. Oh, God. Remember that. Please. That is good. Yeah. Yeah.

John [00:11:25] Years from now, you’ll find one of those freshman girls over there was touched by your kindness.

V/O [00:11:35] From the Eyes of Wisdom is brought to you by Crista Senior Living and Kings schools, where multi-generational living is truly valued. Crista Senior Living is situated on a beautiful campus alongside the King’s preschool through 12th grade school, allowing multi-generational living filled with meaning and purpose. Those who call these communities home can enjoy not only the benefits of diverse interactions, but they can live somewhere that actually embodies a sense of community. Dynamic, diverse and full of life. To find out more about Crista Senior Living or King schools, visit

Sherri [00:12:16] All right, so you’re in the armed forces and now you decide, okay, I want to go to college. Right? Because G.I. Bill. Right?

John [00:12:22] You know, While I was in the college. I was in the Air Force. I did have the opportunity to lead three different guys, The Lord.

Sherri [00:12:30] Really?

John [00:12:30] I did.

Sherri [00:12:31] Okay. Tell me about that.

John [00:12:33] Well, it was usually at a time when their life was at a crisis and they were willing to listen. But my big regret, and this is a big regret, is that I led them to the Lord and then I let them live. I didn’t disciple them. Aside from just a word now and then. They’re kind of dried up just like a flaming log that comes outside the fire. The fire tends to go out after a while.

Sherri [00:13:09] Yeah. You know, the Bible says some people plant, some people water. Right? But God gives the increase. So I may say something to you, and, you know, I’m not the watering person. So I go, and maybe that seed looks like it’s not going to grow but then God sends somebody else and they’re the watering person. Right? And then all of a sudden thing grows because He’s the one that’s giving the increase. I mean, just the seed itself, just them knowing that Jesus loves them, that He can change their life. Than someone else coming to talk about it, they already have the foundation, right?

John [00:13:37] That’s true. That’s very good.

Sherri [00:13:39] Yeah, yeah, yeah. So. Okay, So you’re in college. Where did you go to college?

John [00:13:44] I went to college at Eastern Oregon University.

Sherri [00:13:47] Okay. Go for teaching and coaching. But your heart was really to coach, right?

John [00:13:51] Oh, yeah. My goal was to be a coach.

Sherri [00:13:54] Okay.

John [00:13:55] I didn’t know at the time you had to be a teacher to coach.

Sherri [00:13:57] Yeah.

John [00:14:00] Until I got in college.

Sherri [00:14:01] And you’re like, Wait a minute, I got to teach for this?

John [00:14:03] See you’re ahead of me already. You know, you’re going to have to teach to be a coach.

Sherri [00:14:07] Well, she wants to. Do you want to teach math?

Savannah [00:14:08] Yes, I want to do math.

Sherri [00:14:10] So what did you teach? What subjects to end up teaching?

John [00:14:13] My main topic was PE. That was a subject to have a passion for.

Sherri [00:14:19] Okay.

John [00:14:20] But I taught health.

Sherri [00:14:22] Okay. And you were coaching football?

John [00:14:26] Football and basketball and track my first year here. And then we had a coach come in that could teach basketball. So I was just the athletic director then and coached football and track.

Sherri [00:14:39] Okay, so you’re coaching and you want to coach and I think this goes for coaching and teaching I’m interested in. How do you keep kids motivated? Like, is there a teacher right now? Or you have to say it, if you don’t want to. A teacher or coach that, you know what, they keep me motivated when I can feel a little distracted or feel like I don’t want to give my 100% here, they kind of keep me motivated. And how do they do that?

Savannah [00:15:07] I think it was Morris.

Sherri [00:15:09] Okay.

Savannah [00:15:09] Like we were talking about Ms. Morris earlier.

Sherri [00:15:12] Shout out to Ms. Morris okay.

Savannah [00:15:14] She just has such a high expectation and like, letting her down, I think would be letting myself down and, like, seeing her disappointed would make me ashamed in myself. And, like, I know I could do better and just like her expectations, so I like make the expectation for myself higher.

Sherri [00:15:34] Because the expectation, she said, which means she see something in you when she sets that high expectations she expects something from you.

Savannah [00:15:39] Hopefully.

Sherri [00:15:40] Yeah. Okay. I love that. So how did you motivate kids and make them feel like…So I mean, sometimes kids just don’t want to run, sometimes they don’t want to block, sometimes they don’t want to learn.

John [00:15:50] You know, they didn’t have a choice if they were on the team.

Sherri [00:15:54] Ahh, okay.

John [00:15:54] And usually kids that are involved, like the cheerleaders. They want to be cheerleaders.

Sherri [00:16:01] That’s why they’re there.

John [00:16:02] They want to excel and your coach has high expectations. You said that. And so you want to make her proud. And it gives you a good feeling when you do well. Well, it’s the same way in coaching. You know, we just talked about giving your best and things like that and when they didn’t, I let them know.

Sherri [00:16:25] One thing that I love about coaching. My mother was a single mother and my brother what he found and you may have had boys like this, too, in the coaches was almost like a father figure.

John [00:16:39] Yeah. Yeah.

Sherri [00:16:40] Did you have some of that where young men are like…Like there was something that to have this man expect these things from you and not have it at home. Did you find some of that there? I’m sure he did.

John [00:16:54] Yeah, yeah, yeah. And you feel that a special affinity to them because I’ve been through that. But, you know, an interesting thing. I really wanted to be a coach. It’s what I started out. And after about four years, my teaching became as important as my coaching.

Sherri [00:17:16] Hmm. Why do you think that is?

John [00:17:18] Well, because I’m dealing with kids.

Sherri [00:17:21] Yeah.

John [00:17:22] And you’ve got 30 kids in this class. I mean, every one of those kids is important.

Sherri [00:17:28] Yeah. How did you share your faith with kids, or did you? Were you able to do that? We’re in a different time now, obviously. But were you able to share your faith with kids or was it just kind of the way you carried yourself?

John [00:17:40] I shared my faith.

Sherri [00:17:42] Did you?

John [00:17:42] You couldn’t share your faith in the public school like you could.

Sherri [00:17:46] Yeah.

John [00:17:47] Today you couldn’t share it at all. You can deal with kids individually.

Sherri [00:17:51] Mm.

John [00:17:54] You could then I’m assuming.

Sherri [00:17:58] But I hear you saying it’s important. You’ll find a way. You’ll find a way to share your faith.

John [00:18:02] Yeah. And if you just let the Lord lead it, sometimes you’ll say things inadvertently, just that will share your faith. Just as telling a kid, I’m praying for you. And I got a few, my grandson I always tell him I’m praying for him. Even though he doesn’t know the Lord right now. He knows he’s got a grandfather’s prayer for him.

Sherri [00:18:29] I love that. I’m assuming day to day. There were times when it was like, This is difficult. Can you think of the time where it was like, Because I like to. I like to give hope, but I don’t like to paint a picture that’s so rosy that makes it seem like there’s no stumbling blocks or no bumpy roads. Was there a time where you’re like, This is really hard? Not that you wanted to quit, but it’s like, Man, this is hard?

John [00:18:54] You are wise because there are times and it’s not just an everyday easy thing. Yet I wouldn’t have another career. I mean, that to me, dealing with kids, you’re having an opportunity to shape lives. I’ve had kids. Well, one girl that I had in in grade school. I met with her maybe ten years after, whereas and she told me what an influence I was in her life. And then she gave me a letter that she had written to me, then didn’t send it to me that told me how much I meant in their life and things. Her mother and father eventually split. And, you know, you never know what’s going through a kid’s life.

Sherri [00:19:44] Yeah.

John [00:19:44] And some kid like you, that seems like they really have it all put together. You may find out later on that they’re going through some real tough things with their family or things like that. So you just treat every kid with love and care and. Whether they’re the best athlete. I had one of the boys that probably most influences a little guy that didn’t have any hips and he was about this this tall. And when we’d run races, I’d give him about a 25 or 30 yard head start and he took it and the kids didn’t mind. And when he beat them, they felt, well, I mean, you just. Little things you do is going to make a big difference in lives. Big difference.

Sherri [00:20:33] Would you change anything, John, about your life?

John [00:20:36] I wouldn’t change a thing. As you have an opportunity to change lives. You’re not going to change every kid’s life. I kind of had this feeling that I could change every kid that’s there. I mean, that’s the attitude. I know that you don’t. It was the kids that are having problems I used to…Every time they’d have a kid with some of the problem. I said, Well, I’ll take him at lunchtime or things. And some of them you touch and some of them don’t change. That’s just the way it goes.

Sherri [00:21:14] Well, I think it goes back to what you were talking about, the guys who were in service with. I really think as a teacher a lot of it is what I would call seed planting. So you don’t reap in, you know, the same season that you sow, right? Like you put the seeds in the ground and that plant is not going to shoot up for you. Right? But you know, you put them there and then at some point they do and then they come back to you and say, Hey, can we have dinner or breakfast? I can tell you what what a change you made in my life. Now, here’s what I’m going to do, Savannah, and give you this card. And I’m going to give you a pen. Those of you listening can’t see I just handed her index card and a pen. John, one word of advice for her that she should take with her when she gets whatever school she decides to go to whenever she, you know, starts dating a guy that’s given her letters like you did Jeannette. Whatever. What’s one piece of advice she needs to have throughout her life that you feel like is something she can always go back to?

John [00:22:18] Relationship advice?

Sherri [00:22:20] Or just overall doesn’t have to be relationship, just overall life advice. Just one piece of advice.

John [00:22:26] Find somebody that you can be friends with that treats you nice and treats others nice and they’ll treat you nice, but they may not treat others nice and that will eventually trickle down to you, I think.

Sherri [00:22:40] I know I think. So, you’re saying is, is he kind to everyone?

John [00:22:45] Is he kind to others? That’s right. I think that’s just the first thing. The most important thing is, do we share the same faith?

Sherri [00:22:53] That’s right.

John [00:22:54] Pray for God to lead you to the right person.

Sherri [00:22:57] Just in life. Right? Let God lead me in life. Because it sounds like every step of the way for you. God was leading.

John [00:23:04] You know, He was. Even though at times I wasn’t praying for that. My experience now would be that I would definitely say, if you pray for God to lead you to the right person, He will.

Sherri [00:23:19] I need to ask you about…is it the John Clark award? We need to talk about that.

John [00:23:29] The John Clark Award came about when I left Crista.

Sherri [00:23:33] Okay.

John [00:23:34] When I left Kings.

Sherri [00:23:35] You left Kings, the high school there.

John [00:23:37] The High school. And I left because we couldn’t afford to stay with $300 a month. And the kids decided that they wanted to have a John Clark Award. Since they hadn’t had a chance to dedicate an annual to me.

Sherri [00:23:53] Yeah, I love that.

John [00:23:56] And so I thought it was just for one year. But it’s something that’s carried on since 1966.

Sherri [00:24:06] So someone can still win the John Clark award?

John [00:24:07] Yeah, but it’s for more than just athletics. Some of it’s involved in more than one sport

Sherri [00:24:17] You know about the John Clark award?

Savannah [00:24:18] I’ve heard about it.

Sherri [00:24:20] Look at that right there. That’s John Clark. Isn’t that awesome? Did you realize that?

Savannah [00:24:25] No, I didn’t.

Sherri [00:24:26] Yeah. I got to wrap up. Hey, guys. Thank you so much. And everyone listening. Thank you for tuning into this. This is such a special podcast of just wisdom and hopefully joy that you could hear someone’s life and see how God was there every step of the way. And we can pour that into another life so that they can see the faithfulness of God as well. So thank you so much for joining us and we will catch you on the next podcast.

Sherri [00:24:54] We hope you enjoyed the conversation and that you will join us next time. But before you go, I want to remind you this is being brought to you by Crista Senior Living and Kings schools. You can find out more about these ministries at And please take a moment to leave us a review. By the way, we’d love to hear from you. And our final challenge to you is this. Look around you and find the eyes of wisdom in your own life. We’ll see you next time.

Related Posts