Bob Athayde is the head of the music department at Stanley Middle School in Lafayette, CA.
A proper biography is in the works, but in the meantime, a fantastic one is available here.
One Student's Perspective
Bob Athayde is a true example of what a WikiTribute is for and is precisely the reason this site was created. Often, the most humble people are the people most deserving of praise- he is such a person. Even under the verbal assault of the most callous and careless teenager, Bob Athayde rarely lost his cool. It was hard for even the most rebellious kids to be angry with Bob Athayde. Every student may as well have been his best friend, and most probably felt like they were.
I had the privilege of being one of Bob Athayde's students from 1993-1996 and I learned more in his classroom than I did in high school and college. He did not teach me calculus, trigonometry, physics, or even spelling, but what I learned from him was absolutely essential in every course I took from then on.
Although I was not your average student, I wasn't an above average or even average musician either. I was never great at any instrument, but I always stuck with it for two important reasons. The first was that Mr. Athayde's mantra "30 minutes a day is your way to an A" didn't end with the phrase. His constant encouragement and ceaseless patience were what made that mantra work. Anybody can puff notes into a horn or pluck notes on a string instrument until their lips turn blue or their fingers fall off, but even the highest genius without guidance will fail sooner or later. The second reason I stuck with it was because his class was the best part of my day, and perhaps my life.
Outside of his class, I was a computer geek- relatively uninterested in class and frustrated by my peers. Mr. Athayde probably knew I would never jam with Wynton Marsalis like his son, but he never gave the slightest hint and kept trying to help me be better. Even when I was on my third instrument, I never got the feeling I just wasn't cut out for music. As if his neverending praise wasn't enough, he encouraged what I was better at even more energetically- computers. I suddenly found myself keeping the music department's computers afloat and trying my hand at electronic composition. Eventually, I was helping with many of the other computers around the school because Mr. Athayde had not only enabled me, but given me the opportunities to be helpful where I could be. I also came to be more or less in charge of the sound systems at most of the school's events which I didn't realize at the time was a huge confidence builder.
Mr. Athayde's trust and confidence in me opened so many doors that I would be hard pressed to find an end to the list. Immediately upon graduating Stanley, a friend and I started an Internet Service Provider which became one of the biggest private providers in California and is still going strong today even though I have moved on and left it in the care of my friend. At Acalanes, I took my experience from Stanley and found myself on stage crew, setting up sound for rallies, basketball, football, track and field, and running the light board for several of the school's musicals. Even when I joined track and cross country (neither of which was I great at), I found myself mostly involved in running the meets, and providing support services. Despite my lack of abilities in anything but computers and sound, I was never short on confidence because of the boost I had gotten from Bob Athayde and I was never happier than when I was helping make things happen for people that it really mattered to.
These days, I'm mostly programmer and hardly a musician, but I recorded a song that was nearly used in an Evian commercial and got some internet radio airtime, even made me a couple of dollars on mp3.com. I recorded some piano and guitar music that I'm fairly proud of as well, mostly because I held to his "30 minutes a day" without ever really realizing it. Ultimately, everything I am musically and computationally is a direct result of his influence.
It is hard to sum up exactly what he did for me, but suffice it to say that without the opportunities and encouragement he provided, I would never have had the confidence to get to where I am today or have made the friends I made among the teachers and staff of every educational institution I attended. I have ultimately lead a very rich life because one person enabled me, encouraged me, and gave me the tools I needed to succeed against social adversity.
This may sound like my success story instead of his, but my success is every bit his, multiplied by every student he's ever come in contact with. By my count, he should be considered one of the most successful people in the world. I can only imagine how many others he has led on to success without even knowing. He is by far one of the most humble people I have met and is definitely the most deserving of praise. I can't help but think that every student in his classes might have a similar story to tell about how he changed their lives. In this age of rebellion and decay, the world needs so many more Bob Athaydes but at least the one and only is still in action and improving the lives of everyone around him. I wish him all the best and I look forward to seeing what genius springs forth as a result of his dedication.