The students at duPont Manual High School will tell you he was a quirky, energetic teacher that connected to them on a personal level. The faculty will tell you that he was one of the most dedicated teachers the school has ever seen.
Mr. Vaught was a successful actor, a loving husband, and a valued member of the Louisville arts community, but first and foremost he was a teacher. And a beloved teacher at that.
The news of Mr. Vaught’s passing came this morning as a harsh reminder of the fragility and value of life, and lives more valuable than Mr. Vaught’s are few and far between.
Mr. Clint Vaught was the epitome of inspirational teaching. He made his students realize the confidence inside of themselves that they were unaware they even had. He truly believed in the potential of each and every student that passed through his door, and pushed us to show the world the greatest versions of ourselves. Perhaps the most impressive part of Mr. Vaught’s personality was his ability to teach without students realizing the depths of what they were learning. He was usually sarcastic and funny, sometimes harsh and critical, but he was always supportive. Ask almost any student that took Oral Communications and Debate and they’ll agree: it was a life changing experience.
In addition to his role as a teacher, Mr. Vaught was also an actor who performed in various works, such as the role of Hance Purcell in the award winning film Assisted Living, and in local productions with Actors Theatre, Derby Dinner Playhouse, Music Theatre Louisville, and Kentucky Shakespeare Festival. He appeared in commercials and video projects for Southwest Airlines, KFC, Ford Motor Company, and many others. As the Director of the Youth Performing Arts Institute, he was able to channel his love for acting through the young people who aspired to become as successful as him. This self proclaimed “labor of love” that he undertook for the last 24 years is above all else a testament to his passions in life: acting and teaching others.
Even in death, Mr. Vaught continues to teach. His passing only affirms his highest belief, the one sentence he urged forward above all else. “If you learn nothing else from my class,” he once said, “know this: you have to own the moment.” To his last day, Mr. Vaught owned the moment. We, as his students, have the responsibility to carry this ideal forward. We must own every moment, as the lives of even the greatest of people are taken away.
Mr. Vaught will be hugely missed by his students, his peers, and by those who never had the opportunity to meet him. Rest in peace.
Leigh Weddington, Patrick Haertel, and Dave Carroll contributed to this article.
Eliza Coleman is a 16 year old Junior at duPont Manual High School, studying in the HSU magnet. She is a staff writer for ManualRedeye.com.