Fund in Memory of History Teacher Deb Sheftz Covers Tuition, Room and Board, and Related Expenses for a PHS Student’s First Year in College
Prior to her untimely death in 2014, Deb Sheftz always urged her students to challenge assumptions, act against injustice, be open-hearted and open-minded to all, and to be culturally aware and tolerant. Now, thanks to the Deb Sheftz Memorial Scholarship, Patuxent High School students who want to be instruments of positive change in the world will have an opportunity to attend college and seek opportunities to create a more just world.
The scholarship, administered by the Community Foundation of Southern Maryland, awards up to $2,500 per graduating student for tuition, room and board and related educational expenses for their first year of college. As part of the process of applying for the scholarship, students are invited to discuss what they believe to be the greatest injustice facing their community or the world at large, and to describe how they express their commitment to and passion about a cause that’s important to them.
Deb Sheftz came to teaching in a non-traditional way—she had fought to become the first female machine mechanic in a factory in Pennsylvania, then attended and graduated from a public-interest law school, after which she practiced law and defended people accused of crimes. But along the way she discovered that her passion was teaching, and switched gears to teach history at Southern Middle School and then government, criminal law, and AP world history at Patuxent High School.
“Throughout her life Deb was committed to identifying and addressing issues of inequality and social injustice rather than ignoring them, a commitment she imparted to her students,” writes Deb’s wife Rosanna Mason, who established the scholarship. “She also recognized that the ‘playing field’ was not equal and that everyone had a moral obligation to right the wrongs of the past; whether the past was many years ago, a few days ago, or a mere minute ago. Deb looked for the best in all, whether it was her students, friends, or strangers and urged and encouraged everyone she met to strive to be their best-selves. She often did this with humor and empathy. She understood that many people had obstacles that stood in their way to becoming their best-selves, whether caused by outside forces or self-doubt, and she sought to nurture and help in any way she could.
“Her heart grieved when she witnessed a student who had such potential and who wanted to further his/her education but because of circumstances could not go to college,” Mason continues. “Therefore, this scholarship was created to help a Patuxent High School student, who wants to be an instrument of positive change and fight against injustice, to attend college and be a positive influence on the world.”
Applications for the Deb Sheftz Memorial Scholarship will be available the first week in January and should be submitted to the PHS guidance office by April 3, 2017. Awards are made at the end of May of each year and are paid directly to the educational institution. The application, along with guidelines, criteria, and a complete description of the scholarship, are available on the Community Foundation of Southern Maryland website at https://cfsomd.org/deb-sheftz-memorial-scholarship and at the PHS guidance office (410-535-7871).