Nice. It’s a quality that Camille Stafford prizes in a person and it’s one the Huntington High School senior has found in science teacher Stacey Byrnes.
Ms. Stafford has never been a student in the veteran faculty member’s class, but the two have nevertheless grown close. It’s the type of relationship that’s just about impossible to develop in nearly any other profession.
The pair got to know one another through Natural Helpers, a school club that draws a cross section of students as its members and teaches them what it really means to be a good friend and an even better listener. Natural Helpers are then able to help classmates work through personal issues. “It’s really taught me to be a more understanding and considerate person,” Ms. Stafford said.
Dean Robert Gilmor III serves as the Natural Helpers’ faculty advisor and Ms. Byrnes has assisted at the club’s weekend retreat and with other aspects of the organization. The science teacher and Ms. Stafford really hit it off. Their free periods synched in each of the last two years, so the teenager began spending time in her favorite teacher’s classroom.
As time passed and they got to know each other the pair has grown close. Ms. Stafford had two knee surgeries and Ms. Byrnes helped her get through those difficult periods. “She is super easy to talk to and she helped me a lot during my surgeries,” Ms. Stafford said.
One of Long Island’s best high school lacrosse players, Ms. Stafford was recruited to play by the University of Southern California. She’s excited to put on the Trojans’ uniform and to study on the USC campus, but she’ll always remember Ms. Byrnes and the time the two have spent together in a high school classroom.
Ms. Byrnes graduated from Rutgers University (Cook College and the College of Engineering) with a five year dual Bachelor of Science degree in environmental engineering. She worked as an engineer and received a Professional Engineering license in civil engineering before returning to school for Master of Education degree at Dowling College, which she earned in 2002. She has been working at Huntington High School ever.
“She’s such a special person,” Ms. Stafford said. “She genuinely cares about people and what they are going through.” Ms. Byrnes has made her way out to the lacrosse field and watched Ms. Stafford play and she’s planning on attending the Blue Devils’ Senior Day game, too.
“She has definitely guided me through high school and has had a big impact on who I am today,” Ms. Stafford said.
In a few short months, Ms. Stafford will be packing her bags and heading to the west coast. But she’ll never forget the “family vibe” she’s felt while attending Huntington High School and living in the Huntington community.
The teenager and Ms. Byrnes are already making plans to remain in contact with one another and both want to maintain the rewarding relationship they’ve developed long after the senior graduates in June.