Named the ASCA's 2006 Administrator of the Year, Clare, 53, beat out a handful of nominees from more than 25 Adult Education programs within Region 6, which includes both Contra Costa and Alameda counties.
"There were people more qualified than me," Clare said via phone interview. "I know plenty of these people through networking so I'm humbled and honored."
ACSA, according to Clare, is a "professional organization of school administrators that supports and helps professional development.
"They keep us abreast of the latest educational best practices for administrators," he said.
Clare was presented with the award at an ACSA Leadership Summit dinner in Napa on March 31.
"Gene was chosen for several factors," said Bob Giannini, ASCA's Region 6 Executive. "He's really committed to young people, he has a positive solution-oriented life, he's actively involved and he's good at what he does."
Nominated by Deer Valley High School principal Jo Ella Allen, Clare was pleasantly surprised when he found out about it but remained humble. As the Adult Education Director for Liberty Union High School District, Clare gave praise to staffers Debbie Norgaard, Jerry Black and Larry Rodriguez.
"They all do an excellent job," Clare said. "It's my staff that makes me look good."
But it was Clare who started out making students and their schools shine - as an elementary school custodian in 1973.
After obtaining a degree in social studies with a minor in physical education from San Diego State, Clare went on to earn his master's degree in counseling from University of San Diego before taking the custodial position.
From there, Clare moved within the Imperial Valley school district and served as an instructional aid, working with middle schoolers before finally transitioning into the role of continuation schoolteacher.
In June of 1990, Clare brought his passion for students and education to the Delta area. That year, Clare packed up wife Gretchen and daughters Alison and Julia and moved them to Brentwood to begin a decade-long stint serving as Liberty High School's principal.
"I loved it," he said. "We had an outstanding staff."
Clare said that despite the growth of the area, he helped bring about the "personalization of education. Even though we were getting bigger, we made sure that the kids felt comfortable, while raising their academic levels," he said.
During his tenure as principal, Clare saw massive growth, going from 1,400 students to 2,800 in the span of a decade. He also saw other types of growth.
Only 35 percent of graduates were going on to college when Clare began. But by the time he left, the amount had skyrocketed to a whopping 85 percent.
This was no accident.
Going in, Clare said that he knew that he "had to address the changing times" at Liberty and that his goal was "moving it (education) to the next level."
"We need to move education to a more career-minded place and I tried to provide a construct for that," he said.
He wanted students to see the value of their education in everyday life and be able to know "why we are learning what we're learning."
Clare largely credits his staff, but he was instrumental in the creation of Liberty's (and later Freedom's) Academies, focused learning courses that gave students direction and career choices after high school.
In 1994, Liberty won California's Distinguished high school award.
And right by his side was wife Gretchen, who, as an educator herself, was making a splash as a teacher and health coordinator for the district. Today, she serves as Edna Hill's assistant principal.
"It works great," Clare said of their household dynamics and passion for education. "We understand each other's work. And we have that bond - a love of kids and a desire to serve the community."
That type of passion has helped shape Clare's philosophy over the years - one that has always been the same.
"Be the best you can be no matter what," Clare said. "Don't let the stuff of life get to you. That's the secret to a happy, successful life."