Marco Camargo ‘99
Co-lead Instructor, St. Mary’s School
When he was a junior at Santa Clara University, Marco Camargo heard about an innovative program sponsored by the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics. Called LEAD/SPICE, the program brought SCU students into San Jose’s Independence High School to mentor young people aspiring to become teachers. Sensing that it would be a life-changing experience, he applied and was accepted. "I was really looking for purpose at that time, and the program fulfilled a need I was just learning about in myself. Now I recognize it as the ‘Jesuit call to service’," he reflects.
During weekly meetings, a select group of students led by then Character Education Director Steve Johnson learned about the meaning of character education, the importance of books and literacy, how to write lesson plans, moral decision making, and conflict resolution. In a unique "teach the teachers" approach undoubtedly ahead of its time, the SCU students taught high schoolers about character education, and in turn observed as they taught character education to elementary school students. Having the opportunity and thrill to teach while still in college was a major influence in Camargo’s career as an educator, and he has never looked back.
Camargo, who earned his master’s in Interdisciplinary Education at SCU in 2001, has enjoyed a rich and diverse career as an educator, teaching middle school social studies and coaching sports for nearly 20 years at California schools including: Chaminade College Prep; St. Thomas the Apostle; The Buckley School; and currently St. Mary's in Aliso Viejo, where he is a Grade 6 Co-Lead instructor. "My philosophy of teaching, highly influenced by Steve, is to provide an engaging atmosphere, establish a real connection with the class, and let the students know we're on this journey together," he comments.
Camargo's career has of course not been without its challenges. "A few years ago, there was a student I just couldn't reach," he recalls. "He was always angry, got behind in class--basically lost the entire year of school. I tried everything I could, but felt like I had failed him. Surprisingly, we reconnected years later--I was pleasantly surprised to find out he was seeking me out as a mentor--and everything fell into place after that." The student went on to graduate and enjoy a successful business career.
Camargo, originally from Salinas, CA, has lived in Orange County for the last four years, and has been married 13 years to a fellow SCU graduate and LEAD participant Carmen Renee Anderson ’01. To this day, when he encounters challenges in teaching and in life, he finds inspiration remembering Johnson as "a phenomenal educator who took me under his wing…. "I can't say enough about Steve Johnson," says Camargo. "I owe my career in education to Steve and will always remember him as a great friend and mentor."