HomeNewsCHS history teacher prepares for year-long South American sabbatical

CHS history teacher prepares for year-long South American sabbatical

Published May 31, 2023


Marc Stafford, a U.S. history and philosophy teacher with 19 years experience at CHS, will be leaving his responsibilities in different hands next school year for his longtime dream of living internationally with his wife and two kids. 

“One of my top priorities is for us to learn Spanish, and we’ll study it in Ecuador for the first month,” says Stafford of the trip’s tentative nine-month timeframe with mostly undecided locations in South America. “We also want to do service projects, and while we have some ideas and contacts, we’re open to whatever we’ll find down there. Those two things are what’ll be keeping us busy for most of our time.”

Stafford with his wife, Molly; son, Liam; and daughter, Adeline, on a family trip to England. (courtesy of MARC STAFFORD)

Even though the idea of a sabbatical has long been in the works, the location of South America wasn’t definite until about a year ago. Along with analyzing the cost and language-learning objectives to determine the trip’s location, Stafford also took the advice of CHS English teacher Dale DePalatis, who took a sabbatical in China with his own family, of assessing the culture shock his family is willing to take on.

“China would be way too uncomfortable for me, but I thought that Europe might be too comfortable,” Stafford says. “We felt like the culture and language of South America would be more familiar than China, but would still involve a healthy level of discomfort.”

While not enjoying disappointing his students, the teacher looks forward to his absence particularly because he and his wife, Molly, had planned for the sabbatical to occur this year or the coming year ever since his son, Liam, and daughter, Adeline, were born. The ages of the younger Staffords, who would be entering eighth and sixth grade at Carmel Middle School, respectively, have been significant factors to ensure that both are old enough to remember and participate in the experience. 

“I wrote about Shabbat and what a sabbatical is,” explains Stafford of his application to the district, inspired by his motivation to avoid becoming a teacher that eventually becomes sick of their career. “It’s not a lazy rest, but more like a gap year, to take time away from something that strains you. Just even thinking about [the 2024-2025 school year] is reinvigorating my teaching career because I think I’ve got around another 20 years of teaching left in me.”


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