Remember the Tigers. I graduated from Groveton High School in Fairfax County in 1977. Through all of those years there are a few memories that stayed with me. One memory was of a teacher I had for both Biology and AP Biology – Mrs. Isabelle Seftas. Sadly, Mrs Seftas passed “ad astra” just a few weeks ago at the age of 87. Happily, she led a long life and significantly impacted thousands of Virginians throughout her decades of teaching. As we write on this blog of presidents, governors and their ilk I think it is appropriate to occasionally think of those “ordinary” Virginians who have had an extra-ordinary impact on the lives of many residents of the Old Dominion. Mrs. Isabelle Seftas was one of those people.
And the best biology teacher was … Ms Seftas was born in 1927 and studied at Spotsylvania High School, Mary Washington College and the University of Virginia. A Virginian to the core Ms Seftas would start her career as a dietitian and move on to be a biology teacher par excellence. During her tenure as a biology teacher at Groveton High School Ms. Seftas would lecture with the “fill in the blank” method of teaching. “ATP is created in the cell by ….”. If she was looking your way you’d better say, “the mitochondria”. It’s been 38 years but I still get very confident when I see “Biology” on the top of a column of Jeopardy! questions (well, answers technically). She was a dynamo and pretty much every student who she taught remembers not only her teaching technique but the material she taught as well. Her passing brought forth an outpouring of both grief and fond memories from students; many of whom had not seen her in decades. She made that much of an impression.
Teenage wasteland. Ms. Seftas was about 4′ 11″ tall. At least that’s how it seemed at the time. However, she cast a moral and intellectual shadow more like that of Shaquille O’Neal. On one memorable day I was playing a typically stupid game with one of my friends who sat across the table from me in biology class. He’d put his hand in the gap between his table and mine and I’d try to slam the tables together trapping his hand. He’d do the same and he’d try to crush my hand. Pretty bright, eh? As the biology lecture progressed we lost track of the game. Unfortunately, I absent minded-ly let my hand slip between the tables and wham! He got me. I jumped up and went to hit him. He jumped up and was ready to throw down. He was the starting tackle on the football team, I was the starting guard. Ms. Seftas took one look at this and said, “You two clowns sit down.” That was that. I would have fought the tackle and he would have fought me but neither of us would confront Mrs Seftas.
The old, gold Dominion. Mrs. Seftas loved Virginia and Virginia sports, especially basketball. Even the most ardent jocks and sports addicts among us knew to shut up and listen when Mrs. Seftas started talking sports before class began. It was a sight I’ll never forget – a group of hulking 17 and 18 year old high school athletes standing around a very small woman and listening in stone silence as she ticked off the best college basketball players in the country at any moment in time. Nobody ever argued with her opinions on sports.
Biology in heaven. I was very sad to hear of Mrs. Seftas’ passing. She made an indelible impression on me during my time at Groveton High School. However, one thing is for sure – the residents of heaven are about to learn a whole lot about the Krebs Cycle and about the history of the turn around jumper.
– Donald J. RippertThere are currently no comments highlighted.