Though Mr. Hartsfield has passed, his legacy lives on in the memories of his students. Through stories the Archer community tries to do justice in describing a man whose spirit is extraordinary beyond words.
In the Archer community Mr. Hartsfield was a beloved photography teacher, mentor and friend. Mr. Hartsfield had passion — tangible, effervescent, wide-reaching passion. His style of teaching was a testament to that spirit. He took students under his wing and showed them the magic that existed in the world. He taught his students to capture those moments through photography.
Current student Athena (‘14) describes Mr. Hartsfield’s class as more than just a class about learning to take pictures. Mr Hartsfield also “taught us about life and living right. He encouraged us to push our artistic visions and was supportive of every student, always ready to listen or give advice.” She attributes her success at CSSSA (The California State Summer School for the Arts) and her growth as an artist to his teachings: “I owe him so much for his guidance in art, his lessons on how to navigate the little things in life, and of course, for the laughs. Thank you, Mr. Hartsfield.”
Teachers and faculty mourn the loss of their friend as well. Ms. Lancaster, who spent years working alongside him, says, “He would have taught photo to students out of a cardboard box if he had too. He didn’t care where. He just loved being with students.” She has her own cherished memories of him, like the time they toured Archer’s “saggy lonely building” before it was renovated or the times they spent “shooting the breeze, and digging into the injustices of the world with a laugh.”
Mr. Hartsfield shared his passion for justice with us all, through his lectures on civil rights and his Microaggression seminars on Diversity Day. He told of his own experiences in the hope that we could learn to be understanding and compassionate citizens of the world.
Though he was serious when he needed to be, students will not forget the joyful side of Mr. Hartsfield. His laugh was booming and rewarding — a sound that made you want to laugh, too. And who can forget the year he dressed up as the cowardly lion from The Wizard of Oz for the school’s One Book celebration?
Mr. Hartsfield’s presence was equally meaningful to the students who only knew him from afar. Leasly Salazar (’12) writes of a hike during the Senior Fall Retreat during which Mr. Hartsfield pointed out a bright planet beside the moon (either Mars or Mercury). What she loved about that night was realizing they shared a passion for looking at the “clear and unpolluted” night sky. To Leasly, Mr. Hartsfield is a fellow “lover of the stars.”
For many, Mr. Hartsfield’s impact on their lives went beyond the classroom. Lauren Bass (’12) says this about her mentor: “His door was always open and his arms were open even wider. He listened to his students and gave them many chances. He respected us and treated us like adults. He trusted that we would complete our assignments on time and was very understanding. Whenever I had a bad day, I would run straight to him and he knew how to cheer me up and change gears. He had this teddy bear like quality to him that always made everyone comfortable around him (even though he sometimes tried to act scary– it never worked). In one way or another he would tell me that even though life might be tough at times, it’s still great and would give me many reasons why.”
Though Mr. Hartsfield is no longer with us his legacy will continue to influence our lives for the better. Members of his classes and of the Archer community can be proud to say they knew the passionate photographer, stargazer, and music lover, Mr. Hartsfield. He was our teacher, our friend, our confidante, and he will always be our inspiration.