Stanley Middle School – 2008 Winner
Bob Athayde is the Music Director at Stanley Middle School in Lafayette. He’s been teaching for 31 years. He loves music, and he loves teaching. His energy and enthusiasm are boundless. And the kids are buying what he’s selling. Here’s the proof: Stanley Middle School has six bands and three jazz ensembles – nine instrumental musical groups in all. Three hundred of Stanley’s students – fully one-quarter of the student body – are involved in a band of one sort or another. The jazz groups meet before school hours, starting at 7:30 in the morning. And believe it or not, those kids are eager to get up at that hour to play jazz.
Bob is all about high standards and high expectations. He says, “If a kid can be sparked, then I’m going to find a way to spark him.” He pushes the kids to achieve their potential. And they do. His students have won national awards from DownBeat magazine and the Monterey Jazz Festival/NeXT Generation Festival. A number have become professional musicians. He brings professional musicians on campus frequently to talk with and play with the students. He founded the Lafayette Summer Music Workshop, a summer jazz camp. He brings his students all over town to perform in different venues. They’re really good. He gets the kids excited about music. He’s excited about it. He says: “In the Stanley Music Department we expect a miracle every day.”
Bob uses music as a vehicle to help his students mature emotionally, socially and intellectually, and builds teamwork. One of the many people who nominated Bob said: “Mr. Athayde is by title a music teacher, but in practice he is a life teacher.” Right up on the front of the board is his motto: “We all play together.” It permeates everything that happens in his classes. And when a student acts up, Bob knows how to deal with it: He stops the rehearsal, makes the malefactor stand up, and asks him: “What is your philosophy of life?” And that student had better say, “We all play together.” At that point, Bob invites the child to adhere to the philosophy he has just enunciated. And the problem is solved.
We’re not the only ones who have noticed Bob’s accomplishments. He has obtained a number of awards, including “Outstanding California Band Teacher” from the California Music Educators Association in 2007, the KDFC Outstanding Music Educator Award and many other similar recognitions.