The Student News Site of Mercer Island High School

The MIHS Islander

The Student News Site of Mercer Island High School

The MIHS Islander

The Student News Site of Mercer Island High School

The MIHS Islander

Teacher Feature: Mr. Stafford

Lee Hardisty
Graphic by Lee Hardisty

Hey Islanders!

I know you have had those moments in class, while spacing out, wondering what your teachers were like when they were our age. Well, here it is! Teacher Features is where I will be interviewing a new teacher every issue to talk about their childhood. For this issue, I interviewed Economics and APUSH teacher John Stafford, to talk about what he was like growing up.

Where did you grow up? 

“Bellevue, and I went to Bellevue High School.” 

What were you like as a kid? 

“I would say I have always been serious. I have always liked, I would say, even going through college, my life was characterized by, I worked hard in school so I was a good student. I played sports, at sort of a good high school level. I played one year of JV level basketball [in college]. So I would say those are three prongs of my life that were very steady all the way through college.”

Do you have siblings? 

“I do. Here’s the answer to this. Growing up I had four sisters. Two of them have passed away, both in tragic circumstances that I won’t go into. I am 60, my oldest sister is 61, my next oldest sister [she would be] 57 now, then I have another sister who [be] 55 now, and then my sister Jane who works [at MIHS] who is 50.”

What role did your siblings play in your development as a child? 

“Yeah. Development is an interesting choice of words. I would just say I was close [with them].  I got along well with my sisters, and I was involved in things that they were involved with. By that I mean, for example, my oldest sister took a trip across the country one year to return to school on the east coast, [and] I went with her. I visited her when she was on the east coast going to college, took some bus trips and visited other colleges. So she played a role in introducing me to the east coast, if that makes sense, for colleges. You know, and above and beyond that I would just say our family took trips, I did things with my sisters; they were friends of mine in addition to being my sisters.”

As a teen, throughout high school, what were your interests? 

“[In high school I was interested in] basketball, tennis [and] later, but not so much during high school and golf. I have always liked movies. I had a serious girlfriend when I was in high school, so she was important to me. [Also] friends. There’s [card] games throughout my life as an adult, contract bridge.”

What were you like in college? Where did you go? 

“I went to Dartmouth College, in New Hampshire. I would say that there was more continuity than anything else between high school and college. I continued to like sports, friends and family [and] I worked pretty hard in college. I was a good student. I graduated cum laude from Dartmouth, but I wasn’t one of the best students in my school by any means. A lot of my personality and interests were the same [from high school to college]. I didn’t change a lot then; later in my life I did, but not then.”

Throughout high school and college, what was your social life like? 

“So, you know I had girlfriends a reasonable percentage of the time through both high school and college, so that was a part of my social life. I did a lot of things with friends: we’d go to movies, we’d play sports [and] go to parties. Dartmouth fraternities are a big part of the social scene, [so] I joined a fraternity. I did not feel comfortable joining it so I went inactive after a year, which means you basically sort of leave without going through some big formal process. So, I guess that is all to say, I would go to parties sometimes but I wasn’t comfortable with that being a big part of my life.”

Is there anything that you would like to add that I haven’t asked about? Oh! Pop culture? 

“You know, I like music: classical music. Classical music? What I meant to say is classical rock music, so groups like Led Zeppelin. I was certainly more fun-loving when I was in high school. I mentioned some things in my life that have happened that have been hard, in terms of my family. I would say that the general atmosphere of our times, [with] the recent political events, etc, lead to a more somber view of life, [than] I have now that I did when I was younger. Things were more carefree and fun, not as dower, not as negative in a lot of respects as they are in our era.”

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About the Contributor
Emily Fain
Emily Fain, Co-Business Manager

Emily Fain (she/her) is a senior at MIHS. This is her third year writing for the MIHS Islander and she will serve as the co-head of business this year. In her free time, she enjoys going to farmers markets, reading, and cooking. Outside of school she plays tennis, hangs out with friends and writes for the paper of course!

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