Twinkling eyes peek out over a smile punctuated by dimples, nestled in beard scruff–scruff that students watch carefully as it grows into the iconic mahogany beard of Marc Stafford.
It has been said that with age comes wisdom–and sometimes epic facial hair.
While his appearance changes from season to season, the man beneath remains the same quality individual that students and adults have come to love and respect as a teacher, mentor, musician, and friend.
Stafford has been teaching at Carmel High School for 10 years and guides students through courses of Philosophy, AP U.S. History, and, new this year, College Prep U.S. History. His devotion to his students is clear, as he finished a Master’s program in U.S. History from San Jose State University last year to better teach the subject.
“It’s one of the few jobs that I can think of that values relationships and community,” Stafford comments. “I love it… I can’t imagine doing anything else.”
Marc Stafford is not just any teacher in the eyes of fellow faculty member and friend Jason Maas-Baldwin.
“His role as a teacher, mentor, and family man serves to inspire others, both teachers and students, to do the same, and live with the passion, compassion, integrity, and commitment to excellence that he does,” Maas-Baldwin says.
Words like these are often heard from those who know Stafford.
“The thing I like about Mr. Stafford is he’s always trying to be a better teacher, and it’s not about him,” comments Bill Schrier, esteemed social studies teacher and friend. “It’s about serving the students.”
In addition to his teaching position at Carmel High School, Stafford supervises the school’s Singer-Songwriters’ Guild that he co-founded.
Stafford describes how students often learn more classic styles of music in the music department, but in Singer-Songwriters’ there is total freedom.
“[Students] can play whatever they want and write their own music,” adds Stafford. “We want it to be that one place where [students] are doing something purely for themselves.”
It’s common for students and faculty alike to spend hours outside of school writing and practicing with gusto for their performances.
“It’s not extra work because we have so much fun doing it,” Stafford assures.
Stafford hadn’t always dreamt of becoming a musician. It was around sophomore year in high school when he picked up his mother’s guitar and began teaching himself how to play.
“Then there was a period in high school where all my friends thought that I had died because I wasn’t picking up the phone, I wouldn’t go out on weekends, ‘cause I just wanted to sit and learn how to play guitar.”
Music grew to become a stabilizing force for Stafford in high school, and it has continued to be since.
“It was something I realized, ‘I can go to this, I can always come here, I can do this, and I can find peace with this,’ and it’s been that ever since.”
For Stafford, music is his meditation, and his love for it is clearly displayed when observing the passion with which he plays, and the countless hours he has dedicated to sharing his love for music with students through the Singer-Songwriters’ Guild.
2012 Carmel High valedictorian Kenna Little has come to know Stafford through mock trial, AP U.S. History, and the Singer-Songwriters’ Guild.
“No matter what setting I found myself in with Mr. Stafford, it was always better because he was there,” Little remarks. “Mr. Stafford is such an incredible mentor, inspiring by example and holding everyone to the same level of integrity to which he holds himself. He brings such a personal feel to his classroom and clubs that I found myself working alongside a good friend while simultaneously learning from the best leader.”
With all he does for the community, Stafford and his wife, Molly, manage to raise two children. As a parent, Stafford always tries to be reflective and question the decisions he makes.
“Always come from a place of love so that your kid knows even if you’re making mistakes, the mistakes you’re making are a result of you trying to do what’s in their best interest,” Stafford says. “More than anything I want my kids to be good human beings; I don’t care if they’re astronauts or cabdrivers.”
Stafford’s quality character shines through his actions and words. Carmel High School is lucky to have such an outstanding individual.