Marissa Stafford is like any other teenager. She would like to sleep a little bit later each morning, but instead she’s up very early and typically at Huntington High School by 7 a.m. to work as a lab assistant for science teacher Stacey Byrnes.
Ms. Stafford and the veteran faculty member have really hit it off with each other. “I really enjoy working alongside her,” the teenager said. “She’s extremely caring and always has everyone’s best interests in mind. Mrs. Byrnes gives the best advice and helps me so much with everything.”
An exceptional lacrosse player, Ms. Stafford has given a verbal commitment to Cornell University to play on its lacrosse team. She isn’t sure about what she intends to pursue academically at the Ivy League school. “I’m debating between interior design or something along the lines of sports marketing,” she said. “I haven’t made a definite decision yet.”
Ms. Stafford helps Mrs. Byrnes prepare for the day’s science lab. A lot goes into such labs and the preparatory work helps lay the groundwork for class members to have a successful experience.
“I help Mrs. Byrnes out with anything she needs,” Ms. Stafford said. The teenager is also taking an Advanced Placement Physics class with the teacher. So the pair spends a few hours a day together.
Ms. Stafford is on Huntington High School’s High Honor Roll, which requires a minimum grade average of 95. Her sister, Camille is a sophomore at the University of Southern California, which recruited her to play on its lacrosse team.
“As my lab assistant, Marissa has surpassed every expectation I’ve had for her,” Mrs. Byrnes said. “She is beyond dependable and rather than waiting to be asked to do a task, she anticipates what is needed and finds solutions before I even know what the problems are. More than anything, starting my day with her positive attitude and smiling face sets the mood for my entire day. I’m thrilled that I will have her for my lab assistant again next year and I know that while I will be devastated when she goes off to college, she will remain a part of my life for many years to come!”
It might have been destiny that the teenager and the science teacher found their way to working with each other.
“Mrs. Byrnes was really close with my sister from Natural Helpers and we met through her,” Ms. Stafford said. “I knew I wanted to be a lab assistant and her spot opened up so she offered it to me.”