Cliff Mason II is Sequoyah’s new Co-Dean of Students and a teacher in the high school’s Humanities Department. “Born and raised in Santa Ana,” Mason traveled all across the country in pursuit of education and career before moving back to his home state and starting at Sequoyah School. Throughout his career in education, he has found joy in being a teacher and administrator and working with high school students.
While Mason has spent about a decade in education, he didn’t always want to be a teacher. He disclosed that his original plan was to become a member of the Secret Service and “take bullets for the president,” but he noted that “before Obama changed the laws and the process, there was a 24-36 month completion process, but I had bills to pay.” As a result, he took on a job as a Correctional Officer in a medium security prison. It was then that he realized that he didn’t want to be in that line of work; he discovered that he didn’t like the person he was becoming. “I ended up leaving the prison because it just wasn’t me,” Mason related. For several months after that, he worked as a caretaker on a golf course by day and a cashier at a grocery store by night before meeting a customer who happened to be a teacher; she saw something in him. She asked him to apply to the school she was currently working at. He took her advice and met with the principal of the school and got a job as a substitute there, explaining that “all the rest was history after that.”
Mason is no stranger to travel; he described himself as “nomadic” when asked about his journey to Sequoyah. While he was raised here in California, he traveled halfway across the country to Moscow, Idaho on a football scholarship for college. Soon after, he transferred to Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts, and played football there. After graduating from Stonehill, Mason became a vocational school teacher in Massachusetts for two years before moving to Florida, where he taught Social Studies in a prep school. After two years there, he decided to teach in a public school in Charlotte, North Carolina. From there, he moved to Valparaiso, Indiana, where he earned his Juris Doctor (law) degree. Afterward, he taught in a progressive independent school in Portland, Oregon, and it was there where he learned about Sequoyah. Eventually, he moved back to Southern California to teach in Sherman Oaks before finally taking a job here at Sequoyah.
Part of the reason why Mason fell in love with his job at Sequoyah was because of his interactions with his students. In our Sequoyah community, he is the Dean of Students for curricular life, the director of the advisory program, the site director for Global Online Academy, the site director for Mastery Transcript, a co-administrator of the Morning Meeting Steering Committee, and the advisor of the Black Student Union, so he has a lot of chances to meet with Sequoyah’s high school students. He likes the fact that students are generally more honest than adults; he noted that ”with that honesty comes an inherent inquisitive nature and you can have really fun conversations with kids, oftentimes more with kids than adults.” Mason described himself as a man of many interests, so he finds it easy to engage with students about their hobbies.
Mason is also the father to a lot of pets of the reptilian and arachnid variety. If you’re interested in what they are, ask him when you see him around!