Behind the Tie
Tyreon Clark firmly believes in a multi-step approach to meeting young men where they are in their lives. His work with the organization, Boys to Men, works daily to "mold the man behind the tie."

When 28 year-old ,Tyreon Clark walks into a elementary school he knows that it is his purpose.
Going to different elementary schools in the Warren County, KY region, and mentoring young boys as the director of Boys to Men Leadership Group Kentucky has given Clark purpose. However, Clark was not always so sure of his path. When he graduated Western Kentucky University in 2016 as a young father of a five year old son, Clark looked for a purpose involving his newly received social work degree. Eventually, Clark found Boys to Men Leadership Group, which gave him the opportunity to work directly with young men, ages seven to 18, in Warren county, KY. For Clark, the opportunity was beyond putting his degree to use, it was a chance to be a role model and instill kindness, respect, hard work, and confidence into the minds of many young men.

"It will take us two three hours just to finish something that would be done in 30 minuets in the class room", says Clark as he sits down to some of his personal work after helping his son, Jordan, figure out what assignment he must complete next. The second 'stay at home' order issued in Kentucky caused Clark to completely rewrite his plans for the next month and a half.
Clark quietly peeks into a the class room of a fourth grade at Lost River Elementary to gather the young boys who are involved with Boys to Men for the final tie ceremony of the school year on November 19, 2020. After the ceremony Clark says, "You know it's sad, this is the last time I'm gonna see them until next year. I need to take a moment and process that!"
However, Clark was not always called to work with the youth of Bowling Green, KY. Clark's motivation to help mold young men comes from his teenage year and early twenties. "I had a father who was active in my adolescent years and youth years but as I got older he kinda had his own thing, did his own thing, so I had to figure out a lot of things on my own." said Clark. Independence and confidence were things Clark had to teach himself from an early age, as his mother worked three jobs to sustain the family.
Clark often learned his lessons in life outside of the class room, as a young man exploring a rap career. "One of the things we did was take the energy we had to our pen and paper,"said Clark reminiscing on his first hobby and how he found his own motivations outside of school as a young teenager. "When we where 12 we moved like we were 15, 15 we move like we were 18, 18 we moved like we were 21", Clark noted of his high school years. However, as Clark involuntary grew into adulthood faster than most, it allowed him an opportunity for him to create his own definition of what a man is.
During the weekly 10 am meeting on Friday, Clark check in with young boys involved in the Boys to Men Leadership group. "I try to touch on important topics, stuff that they are experiencing," says Clark; on the week of December 5th he addressed how to schedule school work while at home. Every week Tyreon will walk the students through how to properly tie a tie, Clark does this because, "one day they might be able to help someone else tie theirs."
I learned from my mistakes then, and while I still make mistakes they aren't the same decisions I already made"
Tyreon Clark
After having his first and only child, Jordan, at the age of 22, Clark says, "everything changed," Clark realized that he had to step up to succeed in his own life so that he can be the father his son deserves. Clark marks this moment as the largest change in his personal growth and what has been his defining moment from a boy to a man.

Returning to college after a semester away to get his grades up, Clark found a new focus after the birth of his son, "I mean from there everything just blew up. I put childish ways behind me." His lessons, that he teaches to his son and the young men he encounters every day, come from personal experience of being a teenager "ripping and running" through the streets. Clark believes his personal story helps him connect to the men who may not feel connected to their teachers or parents. As of 2020, Clark is continuing to expand Boys to Men to almost all public elementary schools in Warren County, and he is in able to work with over 100 young men through this process.
Tyreon Clark, 28, sits at his coffee table on December 5th, logged onto a Zoom meeting while also coordination his and his son's schedule for the day. Often Clark will find himself side tracked by his sons homework and Clark's work gets side lined, what would take him a short time ends up being a much longer endeavor.
Clark understands that all children are different, "These kids are sharp it just takes someone to bring it out of them,"says Clark, and he believes Boys to Men can do just that. "So many kids get praised through athletics or in the classroom," says Clark, "but we just do that with a tie." The lessons and achievements, symbolized through the act of learning how to tie a tie, something Clark did not learn personally until he was in high school, are a central point in Boys to Men. If a student follows the guidelines of Boys to Men throughout a month a blue and silver tie is given to them, if their behavior and school work is poor a plain grey tie is received. Clark believes the ties work as a positive reinforcement and allow the children to work towards an achievable goal.
During Practices for the Flag football League Clark has created, he will take on various roles. Aside from being the main coach and often times the only coach, Clark will operate the score board and has even been known to fill in for some of the absent players.
Many of the boys Clark coaches on the junior flag football league participate in the Boys to Men program. “ It’s like being a starter football player on a football team everyone is watching you to see you mess up”, says Clark. Often times Clark can find correlations between his sport involvement and lessons he can instill within the young boys.
All lessons and actions that are taught revolve around the young boys learning responsibility, respect, and how to become a leader in their communities. Clark purposefully combines his leadership position both in the class room and on the football field. Clark was an avid football player throughout his elementary, high school, and college career. However, once his football career ended he longed for a greater purpose which still involved his love of the sport. In 2018, Clark made that purpose for himself by creating a junior flag football team for the students of Boys to Men, as well as all young boys of the greater Bowling Green area. Thus, another outlet for Clark was created. Through his coaching, he was able to reach an even wider range of boys outside of the classroom.
So many kids get praised through athletics or in the classroom. But we just do that with a tie."
Tyreon Clark

For many boys in Lost River Elementary Boys to Men gives them their first opportunity to tie a tie. During the Tie ceremony, each young boy will stand up and practice their public speaking as well as vow to act according to the oath of Boys to Men. Clark encourages every student to practice daily tying their ties and help others who many be struggling.
Clark's involvement with the male youth is so important to him because he is a firm believer that children pave the path for the future. Everyday he is able to be involved directly with hundreds of young men who continue to inspire and surprise him. Clark says, "You can look at what is wrong in the world but what are you going to do about changing it?"

For Clark the answer, his purpose, was found though instilling young men with the proper wisdom to one day become leaders within their own communities.

Football practice is a family affair in Clarks life. His son Jordan and his adopted nephew Ty both attend every practice Clark coaches and often help with various aspects of the job. Clarks son, Jordan often expresses his wish of being number 22 when he plays high school football because, “Ty is number 22, and I want to be 22, that was my dads number.”
Football practice is a family affair in Clarks life. His son Jordan and his adopted nephew Ty both attend every practice Clark coaches and often help with various aspects of the job. Clarks son, Jordan often expresses his wish of being number 22 when he plays high school football because, "Ty is number 22, and I want to be 22, that was my dads number."
Made on