Entertainment Magazine: Celebrities: Brandon Stumpf
Brandon Stumpf Juggles Several Artistic Fields
Actor, Cuyle Carvin, (far left) teamed up with Londonderry New Hampshire art teacher, Brandon Stumpf, (left) and cartoonist Fred M. Grandinetti (right) to raise money for veteran’s services. This was for an event at The Comic Stop located in Watertown Massachusetts held on October 26, 2013. Stumpf, who is also an actor and model, became Spiderman. Carvin autographed copies of The Cuyle Carvin Coloring Book. This is a nonprofit children’s publication promoting fitness. Both actors have appeared on Grandinetti award-winning cable access series, Drawing With Fred.
Interview by Fred M. Grandinetti
Brandon Stumpf has been referred to by several names over the years. These monikers include Spiderman, Iron Man, Chief Greg Buxon, Lawson, Detective Ryan and Popeye. From his two daughters he is known as Daddy.
Stumpf is a full time art teacher at The Londonderry Middle School in New Hampshire but during the evening and weekends he takes on many different personas.
He has donned the costumes of both Spiderman and Iron Man when appearing at department stores and charitable events. For the past few years Stumpf has become the heroic vampire, Lawson, for a series of kindle book covers by author Jon Merz. In the thriller BEG he plays a novice detective on the hunt for a deranged murderer. In the film D.I.D. he portrays the investigative Chief Greg Buxon. On the award-winning cable access series, Drawing With Fred, Stumpf has been incorporated into projects involving Popeye the Sailor.
The original animated cartoon, The Stumpf Family Goes to the Beach, paid tribute to the Popeye theatrical films of the 1950’s. This brief segment used the voices of the entire Stumpf family. He also portrayed a nasal-sounding Popeye fan in Clothes Make the Sailor Man. This segment honored the spinach-eater’s 80 years as an animated cartoon character and can be viewed at https://www.facebook.com/DrawingWithFred. Stumpf has appeared in various television commercials including promotions for Latitude Gym, Subaru of Keene New Hampshire and Dependable Lock Service.
His modeling career includes appearances in Boston magazine, Combat (United Kingdom), Newport Life, Arnold Palmer, BOSE, CMP FLLI Campangolo (Italy) and L.L. Bean. I sat down with Brandon to discuss how he juggles being an art teacher and father with all of his other activities
FG: Describe a typical day in the life of Brandon Stumpf, art teacher, actor, model and father.
BS: I usually wake up around 6am and start the coffee brewing. My wife, Jennifer, and I get the kids ready for the day. Then we get ourselves together and usually both out the door by 8:00am. Both Jen and I teach at neighboring districts. My classes begin at 8:05 and run until 2:35 in the afternoon. From there, for most of the year, it is off to various school practices until around 5:30pm. I then scurry home to help with dinner and get the kids ready for bed by 8:00pm. Next is whatever school work which needs completed and house cleaning. I try to squeeze in a workout and hopefully some quiet time with the wife before it is off to bed.
FG: What was your earliest involvement with art? Were there any memorable impressions you received which inspired you to become a teacher?
BS: Hmm, scribbling on paper as a toddler, of course! Seriously, I have been drawing all my life, but only in a recreational form. I have never considered myself an "artist" (pronounced ar-teest), nor have I really aspired to make it a full time career. I do it because I enjoy it, and when something becomes work, it takes the love out of it. That really was the start of me wanting to become an art teacher, realizing that bit. I had great teachers in high school who really loved what they did, and this inspired me to do my own thing. This feeling is what I want to pass on to my students.
FG: What is it about art in general which attracted you as an educator?
BS: Art is the oldest form of communication. Before written language we used symbols and people told stories and recorded memories through their art. It is at once universal and individual. I can think of few things besides art (or the arts in general, really) which can say that.
FG: Do you have a favorite art form and particular grade to teach?
BS: I love illustration and wanted to draw comics when I was a kid. I admired artists like Jim Lee, Todd MacFarlane and Simon Bisley....to name a few. I taught high school my first year but was way too young. I teach 7th grade now and Middle school is challenging. As a teacher you catch kids at a turning point and can really influence who they will become one day. I set a very high standard for everything I teach/coach and hope these kids will become stronger for it.
FG: What other school activities are you involved with?
BS: I am the assistant coach for both the boy's Cross Country and Track teams. Both teams are highly decorated and we rank in the top two every year with both. As in the classroom I set a high standard for our athletes but also foster a love for the sport and the right way to compete. I believe in competing with honor, pride and humility. Thankfully I do have my winters off although I used to coach wrestling as well. Let me just say this is a lot to ask of a wife especially now that we have two children.
FG: Describe a typical class session and how many students are in each? What do you take in consideration in grading a student in art?
BS: In middle school there are no transition times between classes and the kids move immediately from one class to the next. The students roll in and after a few minutes of set-up and attendance we either get straight into the days lesson or continue with the work in progress. Classes are 50 minutes with a good 5-10 of this used for set up and clean up. Classes these days, and in a relatively large community, are between 20-30 kids. With budget cuts happening all over and with the resulting decrease in staff, classes will more than likely rise in number.
Grading art is very difficult as it is a subjective class. If left to every student's individual ability level it would be impossible to do fairly. In art, like any other class, projects are given a rubric, and students know what the requirements are ahead of time before they begin. The rubric details are what exactly are required to achieve a certain grade. Students either meet those standards or they do not and ultimately the decision is in their hands. Obviously I make the criteria as non-skill based as possible to avoid having to grade them on ability. However certain things like craftsmanship and certain basic art elements must be taught and graded. There are also several students with disabilities we have to work with and they each present their own challenges. More often than not the disability is not something which directly impacts my class as a math or reading goal. Other times there are students with motor skill issues or things of this nature which I must accommodate for.
FG: When you became an actor were there concerns regarding the time it would take you away from the family and students requiring extra teaching assistance?
BS: I have a full time job which is how I support my family. Being in New England does not provide much stability in the acting or modeling world so I prioritize my "real" job being the one which pays the bills. There is a good amount of time on nights and weekends I have had to sacrifice which is very hard. I want to be with my family and often times acting projects are unpaid or deferred. This makes taking the time even more difficult to rationalize.
FG: Have you cut acting or modeling engagement short or cancelled them due to a family situation?
BS: Yes. I have not accepted gigs based on previous family arrangements and missed out on many auditions due to my work obligation, but that is just how it is.
FG: When (or if) has being a teacher collided with your acting career? What have been the reactions from fellow instructors and parents?
BS: Everyone thus far has been really supportive of what I do, from my administration right down to the parents. I know a lot of them outside of school through Cross Country and Track, so we have had the chance to get to know each other this way. My boss at work is my biggest fan, and she has clippings of different catalog spreads and articles on her wall. Even the couple who comes in to do our African drumming unit with the kids likes to follow what I do on the side. I have had more awkward interactions due to students whose parent works with my wife in another district.
FG: What do you say when a parent or student runs across dialogue which is not children-friendly coming from the mouth of Mr. Stumpf in his films? Even if this has not happened yet how would you handle the situation?
BS: It has happened and my answer is simple: I am a performer and this is something I do on the side. I have a life outside of the classroom, and what I do in this time is my business. I have had several students who have performed in theater productions with sexual or foul mouthed material. They understand it comes with the territory. In fact, it probably helps to show that I have a much less serious side from my personality in school (which isn't really all that serious to begin with).
FG: You are a handsome guy who has been in the movies. Are you at all concerned if a student runs across you in a magazine in a hunky pose, at the beach, etc.
BS: If I cannot go to the beach without taking my shirt off then I am quitting teaching tomorrow. Honestly, the image all teachers are some sort of recluse introverted stuck-ups with no life outside the classroom is dead and gone as far as I am concerned. I am not on a billboard in my underwear and I keep my material as appropriate as I have control over. Other than that I am a human being. I go to the beach, compete in extreme races, jump out of airplanes, love my wife and kids to death, and try to make the best life I can for them. I do not ever do anything which I feel would jeopardize what I have built.
FG: Is it difficult for you to juggle your careers and essentially make everyone content?
BS: If you are trying to keep everyone happy then you will keep nobody happy. End of story. There is a balance and a sacrifice. I am lucky to have a loving and beautiful wife who supports and understands what I sometimes have to do. My family is my biggest fans and I am very happy they can be proud of me for what I have done thus far and continue trying to do. There is nothing better than to hear my daughters scream "Daddy" when they see one of my commercials or to have my wife grin with pride every time someone she knows says they saw the very same commercial. This applies to my movie, television or catalog appearances. Would I like to be able to make this a full time job....you bet! Am I happy to have done what I have done regardless.....absolutely.
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Photos and art: Artwork by Brandon Stumpf. Photo of Brandon in the Popeye shirts: "Clothes Make the Sailor Man" and Fred Grandinetti with Spiderman.
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