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April 27, 2023

For information on enrollment and registration at Notre Dame, an independent, Catholic, International Baccalaureate school, please visit the admissions section of our website here.

Alum and physical therapist says Notre Dame and the Marists inspired a lifetime of service and a focus on human rights.

Ron Clinton PT, M.Ed., a 1964 Notre Dame High School graduate, currently is a certified physical therapist practicing in Rochester Hills, Mich.

When Ron Clinton was transitioning from sophomore year to his junior year at Notre Dame High School, his dad lost his job due to a corporate takeover. While concerned initially that he might not be able to afford the last two years at the private Catholic school in Harper Woods, he nonetheless pressed on and eventually made it through graduation.

“I was very fortunate to finish high school at Notre Dame,” he recalled. ”But after graduating and then concerned about paying for college, I took what the kids today would call a gap year, which for me consisted of working in a factory for a year so I could get the money together to get a car and go to college.”

After his gap year, Clinton’s college career began rather unceremoniously with a general studies program since he was certain he would eventually end up where many of his classmates were going post-high school: Vietnam. 


But by that time, he said, after his four years in a Marist high school that preached tolerance and promoted working against injustice and violence in the world, if he was to join the Army and head to southeast Asia, it was not going to be with a gun.

“My plan was to be a medic because I didn’t want to kill people,” he said. “I remember when I went to the draft office, it was a little early for my appointment, and the recruiter told me I could review some literature in another room. I opened a book up with careers in the service, and one of them was for physical therapy, which definitely intrigued me.”

In fact, it intrigued him enough that he thought it was perfect for him because it combined exercise, of which he was a big fan, with medicine, in which he also had a keen interest. And presumably guns were not a big part of such a chosen path.

Long story short, Clinton headed to a special Army base in Texas to begin training for a military PT position.

“When I got to the base and started to fill out the paperwork, I was told there might be a problem,” he said. ”Turns out they were only accepting women in physical therapy in the military at that time.”

That policy eventually changed, but by that time, Clinton had already been through a community college physical therapy program and had graduated from Wayne State University in 1970 with his PT degree.

Fast forward to present day, Clinton is still very active in his chosen profession with a specialty in knee and joint therapy. A certified McKenzie-trained physical therapist in private practice since 2001, his office is located in Rochester Hills, Mich., at HealthQuest Physical Therapy. He’s also created and taught seminars for fellow physical therapists and presented several times at PT-related conferences across the state.

Clinton sat in for a podcast conducted by Notre Dame Prep’s ”Talk of the Irish” student podcast club.

He was named “patient educator of the year” at Crittenton Hospital (now Ascension Crittenton Hospital) in Rochester and has helped patients with long-term knee problems and failed knee surgeries return to an active lifestyle, including clients referred from the Cleveland Clinic headache, dizziness and balance clinic.

Prior to that, he worked with patients at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit and spent five years at Mount Carmel Hospital, also in Detroit, specializing in cardiopulmonary physical therapy.

“When I finally got to Crittenton,” he said, “I had become a spinal specialist, certified in the McKenzie Method of joint therapy, which has pretty much defined my career up to this point.” 


While still in private practice, Clinton’s working on cutting down on his actual patient treatment activities and starting to work again toward more consumer education as an adjunct faculty member at Wayne State, and separately at Oakland University and the University of Michigan-Flint. He also continues to teach courses privately and train physical therapists as an independent practitioner through an organization he calls “Back Coaching Services.”

“After working at Crittenton, I had several doctors who continued to refer to me, and I’ve built up a clientele of patients over the years who come back periodically for one issue or another,” he said. “I see a lot of back and neck patients as well as a number of knee patients now that I’ve written a booklet on knee pain. I am trying to slow down my practice a bit and move to educating consumers locally, nationally and internationally as I feel the information in the booklet has universal applications. Currently, my wife, who is originally from Venezuela, is translating the booklet into Spanish.”

It’s been a long and remarkable career for Clinton and while his attention to his own health, wellness and fitness has no doubt contributed to his success thus far, he reserves a special place of gratitude for the education he received from the Marists at Notre Dame High School.


“As a student at Notre Dame, I never realized how much I was getting from the training and discipline I learned there,” said the father of two. “It was only after graduating and when I started to attend college that I experienced the benefit of being very well prepared to handle the courses that I needed to take.

“At Notre Dame, I also developed a very strong spiritual foundation, a desire to seek the truth and to be a champion for human rights. I continue to do my best to serve people in my work, and support those who are in very difficult situations. Additionally, my wife and I support Doctors Without Borders, Haven, Goodwill and Gleaners. We wish we could do more.”

Clinton noted that some of his favorite classes at NDHS were U.S. and World History with Father Boulanger, s.m., and religion with Fathers Lavoie and Demers.

“Those three classes made me acutely aware of injustice in the world,” he said. “I soon began to follow more closely the civil rights movement and then the work of Father Bill Cunningham of Focus: HOPE, which for a time led to me living in a community of students, a priest and some grads from the Newman Ministry at Wayne State. We were laser focused on humanitarian issues back then and it continues to inform my life today.”

For information on enrollment and registration at Notre Dame, an independent, Catholic, International Baccalaureate school, please visit the admissions section of our website here.

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About Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy
Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. Notre Dame Preparatory School enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame's middle and lower schools enroll students in pre-kindergarten through grade eight. All three schools are International Baccalaureate "World Schools." NDPMA is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers and is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the National Association of Independent Schools. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy, visit the school’s home page at