Faculty Spotlight



Faculty Spotlight


MR. CLAY BEALE by Kirk Silsbee (’73)

Clay Beale In 1957, Boston-reared Clay Beale heard that California needed teachers.  He came west with his wife Sabrina and considered Beverly Hills High.  He found that the kids had too much money and privilege, and remembered an opening at a new school in a place called Inglewood.  At age 90 (in 2010), Clay looked back on his 15 MHS years as “a wonderful time.”  Anyone who passed through his classroom on the quad had a singular class experience.  Beale was a singular teacher.  He made every kid, no matter how hardened, feel important.  “I tried to give everyone their space,” Clay offers, “and let them follow their passions.”  Dave Hill (’69) said Beale was Principal’s Boyd’s son Ramon Boyd’s (’61) favorite teacher.  Mr. Boyd was surprised because Ramon didn’t have Beale as a teacher.  “You’re right,” Ramon replied, “but I spend lunch with him and his lunch group every day.”  That large contingent met for years.  Clay’s prodigy included “Eugene” Robert Ryan (’62), whose subject matter centered on bullfighting.  He also became a bullfighter.  Craig Reardon (’70), renowned special effects engineer, and interior designer Stephen Shadley (’64) are two more of Beale’s successes.  But not all of his students had an interest in art.  During the tumultuous years (he left MHS in ’71), Beale acted as a calming influence on the campus, defusing many a tense situation.  He gave respect, and unfailingly received it in return.  His teaching philosophy?  “You have to give someone hope,” Beale stressed.  “And that’s what I’ve done with my life.” 

Craig Reardon (’70) describes Mr. Beale.
He was one of those phenomena that we must all count ourselves privileged when we experience even one such in our lives.  It wasn’t just the antic personality, which he laid on pretty thick, but his spirit of goodwill and affection in which all the posturing and playfulness were expressed.  He concealed it and wore it lightly but he clearly enjoyed being the center of attention.  And that meant he valued that attention.  He dressed for work like a Beverly Hills businessman, chic and elegant.  He always “credited”  ‘Miss Moneybags’ and, as we all know, that was his wife. She was always just off stage like Phyllis Diller’s husband ‘Fang’.  I never before and never again encountered an art instructor more hip, broad-minded, insightful and invigorating as he.  He encouraged our interests, hobbies, obsessions, fascinations and enthusiasms.  He made art fun, the way it was for Picasso, for Renoir, and for the great free spirits.  Like life, the art is in the doing.  Beale was an artist in living, one of the greatest artists most of us will ever meet in one short lifetime.  

We were honored and proud that Mr. Beale attended the July 19th, 2008 Mane Event and was voted favorite teacher spanning three decades, the 50’s, the 60’s and the 70’s.


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