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Schefer Schools-Does Anyone Remember?
Posted by: Schefer School Alumni ()
Date: September 19, 2010 09:06PM

I went to Schefer School briefly in the early 1980's. It was a non-profit program for fuckups and had branches in Falls Church and Fairlington. It was weird, 10 to 12 kids per class and I think they only went up to 11th grade because they weren't certified to graduate anyone.

There is nothing about Schefer Schools online except the head of the school, Anton Schefer died in 2010 and the school had been closed since 1988. Nothing about it on classmates.com.

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Re: Schefer Schools-Does Anyone Remember?
Posted by: 1201SLD ()
Date: September 24, 2010 07:58PM

I was a classmate of Anton Schefer at St. Andrew's School 1957-62 and at UVA 1962-1966. During those years I visited him and his parents many times at 610 Fulton Avenue, Falls Church, at the time the school's only location (and a bit like visiting Miss Havisham's house.) His parents, Ernest Edward Schefer (Harvard 1924) and Eileen Lennox-Conyngham (a Titanic survivor) met in Kuala Lumpur in the Malay raj early in WWII. I believe Mr Schefer was in the U. S. foreign service. At the Schefer School they ran a tutorial and catch-up program for students who didn't do well (whatever that means) in other schools. Mrs. Schefer was definitely the policy- and decision-maker. Parents and son were all a trifle eccentric and quite opinionated, also quite charming in an effete way. They were very serious about what they did at the school, and as far as I know, up through the mid-70's at least, never made much money from it, but then they were socially secure and were not spenders. To the extent there were grades at The Schefer School, it was to more to relate to other schools that to suggest any real academic level. They were not by nature great record-keepers, so if there are no directories of students, I am not surprised. Nella Mehlman of Washington may be able to tell you more about the school.

Schefer School Alumni Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I went to Schefer School briefly in the early
> 1980's. It was a non-profit program for fuckups
> and had branches in Falls Church and Fairlington.
> It was weird, 10 to 12 kids per class and I think
> they only went up to 11th grade because they
> weren't certified to graduate anyone.
>
> There is nothing about Schefer Schools online
> except the head of the school, Anton Schefer died
> in 2010 and the school had been closed since 1988.
> Nothing about it on classmates.com.

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Re: Schefer Schools-Does Anyone Remember?
Date: September 30, 2010 08:24PM

I WAS A FRATURNITY BROTHER OF ANTON SCHEFER AT UVA AND FOR ABOUT 5 YEARS I WORKED AT SCHEFER SCHOOL. I WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR TWO OF THE SCHOOLS AND CERTAINLY KNEW MANY OF THE STUDENTS.

I AGREE THAT THE PLACE HAS BEEN LARGELY FORGOTTEN BUT IT DID HELP MANY STUDENTS WHO WERE ABLE TO LARGELY CATCH UP AND RETURN TO REGULAR PRIVATE OR PUBLIC SCHOOLS.

I HAVE SOME LISTS OF STUDENTS AND TEACHERS AND I HAVE THOUGHT ABOUT ESTABLISHING A WEBSITE TO ALLOW FOR COMMUNICATIONS.

PLEASE CONTACT ME (WBFOUNTS@HOTMAIL.COM) IF YOU ARE INTERESTED. INCIDENTALLY, I LIVE IN RICHMOND, VA.

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Re: Schefer Schools-Does Anyone Remember?
Posted by: CeeBee ()
Date: January 22, 2011 11:25PM

Anton Schefer was my slumlord in Old Town for several years. During that time, he was verbally abusive to tenants, wrote illegal clauses into leases, failed to maintain his properties to a livable standard, and would periodically "stop by" at odd times, such as 11:30 on a Sunday night, just to "check in."

It surprises and pleases me to learn that he ever did any good for others in his life, considering the extent to which he made my own life miserable for several years. I'm glad that in his 66 years, he was able to make any impact other than a negative one, long ago though it was.



1201SLD Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I was a classmate of Anton Schefer at St. Andrew's
> School 1957-62 and at UVA 1962-1966. During those
> years I visited him and his parents many times at
> 610 Fulton Avenue, Falls Church, at the time the
> school's only location (and a bit like visiting
> Miss Havisham's house.) His parents, Ernest
> Edward Schefer (Harvard 1924) and Eileen
> Lennox-Conyngham (a Titanic survivor) met in Kuala
> Lumpur in the Malay raj early in WWII. I believe
> Mr Schefer was in the U. S. foreign service. At
> the Schefer School they ran a tutorial and
> catch-up program for students who didn't do well
> (whatever that means) in other schools. Mrs.
> Schefer was definitely the policy- and
> decision-maker. Parents and son were all a trifle
> eccentric and quite opinionated, also quite
> charming in an effete way. They were very serious
> about what they did at the school, and as far as I
> know, up through the mid-70's at least, never made
> much money from it, but then they were socially
> secure and were not spenders. To the extent there
> were grades at The Schefer School, it was to more
> to relate to other schools that to suggest any
> real academic level. They were not by nature great
> record-keepers, so if there are no directories of
> students, I am not surprised. Nella Mehlman of
> Washington may be able to tell you more about the
> school.
>
> Schefer School Alumni Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > I went to Schefer School briefly in the early
> > 1980's. It was a non-profit program for fuckups
> > and had branches in Falls Church and
> Fairlington.
> > It was weird, 10 to 12 kids per class and I
> think
> > they only went up to 11th grade because they
> > weren't certified to graduate anyone.
> >
> > There is nothing about Schefer Schools online
> > except the head of the school, Anton Schefer
> died
> > in 2010 and the school had been closed since
> 1988.
> > Nothing about it on classmates.com.

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Re: Schefer Schools-Does Anyone Remember?
Posted by: Elizabeth Morgan ()
Date: October 10, 2011 08:04PM

I knew Anton Shefer well all my life because his parents and mine were professional friends from the time I was about six and he was nine.
The Shefer school was the first alternative school in the entire DC area and one of the few in the country at the time. It helped a lot of youngsters who didn't fit in at the standard schools of the time.

It did not have grades, as I remember, because Mrs. Schefer, who was the grand-daughter of an Earl and had been educated privately by a governess, felt that the ungraded, accepting approach she had as a child would help many 'failing' children gain confidence in themselves. She was right and years ahead of her time.

They chose not to be accredited, as I recall, because the accreditation meant testing the youngsters. If they were going to do well in tests, they 'graduated' from Shefer and went on to traditional schools.

Anton was an only child. To my brothers and me, he was our 4th sibling. He was eccentric and yes, opinionated and yes could be very difficult as he grew older but he stood by me and my daughter for years during some very hard times and went out of his way to help her, even when he was dying of cancer. Underneath his sometimes crusty exterior,he had a really big heart.

Although out of place in Virginia, the Shefers would have fitted in well in Boston and in the UK where eccentricity among old, distinguished families is familiar and accepted.

Anton's thirty year partnership with Nella Mehlman outlived and outloved many, if not most, conventional marriages I've come across. He and his parents may not have run the best ever alternative school in the country but they ran one of the first, with dedication and good intentions and paved the way for those than came after. Hats off to them.

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Re: Schefer Schools-Does Anyone Remember?
Posted by: Another Schefer School Alum ()
Date: October 24, 2011 04:04PM

I also went to the Schefer (or is it Shefer) School in Falls Church in the early 1980s. It was a school to help students with minor learning disabilities or other issues that prevented them from succeeding in regular schools. The small class size allowed for more one-on-one instruction and helped students catch up and prepare for transfer to a more normal education environment. They didn't have grades or assign homework. But they did send out regular reports with marks ranging from Excellent to Unsatisfactory.

I have wondered what happened to some of the teachers from the school. Mrs. Johns, Mrs. Morgan (headmistress and math teacher) and others whose names I can't recall now. I'd like to thank them for all they did. My time here helped me attend a prestegious DC-area high school and a good college.

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Re: Schefer Schools-Does Anyone Remember?
Posted by: troublebuddy ()
Date: October 24, 2011 04:13PM

We called it "Shithead Academy" my friend went there after he was pitched from Fairfax Public schools for fighting.

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Re: Schefer Schools-Does Anyone Remember? I Do !
Posted by: Lahr ()
Date: April 30, 2013 07:35PM

My sister and I attended the Schefer School on Fulton. Yes it did get me back on track for public school. I was going through 6th-7th grade public school level at the time. Mrs. Carmody, my teacher for two years, teach really kicked some butt in class. She would get right in your ../ my face . and laydown the law. She helped, and motivated me to really take off and succed.
There was a teacher that lived across the corner whose husband had a flag design shop, there in Falls Church. The beautiful lady teacher from Dead Wood N. Dakota..... Some good looking guy that taught German.... WE all had study hall after school for several hours, and wiped out our homework which was mainly tear sheet work books.
I met my first girlfriend there, rode in a taxi / pool from Chevy Chase everyday with five other kids ( Falls Church Cab Service, Sunny was our driver). The big house where the school was held, was incredable. With a huge porch...
I can hear Mrs. Schefer now, "Annnton !!"....Camiel get back to your room !!!!" When we crossed the Pacific to excape the Jappinese in a PT Boat.....
I now holed a Private Pilot's Lic Land and Sea, have traveled around the world twice, sold airplanes in Mongolia, have a business in the US...small family, lived in Europe....Thanks Mrs Carmody and Mrs Schefer's vision to put together such a great "relaunching pad" for students. The staff had great impact on their charges.

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Re: Schefer Schools-Does Anyone Remember? I Do !
Posted by: Lahr ()
Date: April 30, 2013 07:37PM

My sis and I went to Schefer 1969 -71.

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Re: Schefer Schools-Does Anyone Remember?
Posted by: Schefer School Alum ()
Date: January 15, 2015 02:43PM

Went there in the 80s. Often thing about it and what happened to some of the people who worked/went there. As someone else said, it was one of the first alternative schools to help get kids back on track. It certainly helped me. Too bad there's not a Facebook page or something for alums. At least I haven't found one.

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Re: Schefer Schools-Does Anyone Remember?
Posted by: Cunning Linguist ()
Date: January 15, 2015 07:15PM

Is it just me or does the writing in these posts seem a bit off?

Like they ate a lot of lead paint chips, or they were dropped on their head frequently, raised by feral cats, or they were from from Mt. Vernon.

Something is just wrong here.

Hmmmmmm

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Re: Schefer Schools-Does Anyone Remember?
Posted by: Seminary Rd ()
Date: January 15, 2015 07:38PM

I also went to Schefer School, it was in the basemnt of a church on Seminary Rd. I remember going to public library, usually in the teacher's car. It got me back on track. I was there in 77 and 78. When you got all your work done (everything was self paced) you could read whatever you wanted to. They had a huge stack of Classic Illustrated Comics (comic book versions of thing like Moby Dick, The Three Musketeers, and Ivanhoe and such.) I went through all of them and got a good enough idea about all of them that when I was assigned to read them in regular schools, I felt like I was ahead of the game.

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Re: Schefer Schools-Does Anyone Remember?
Posted by: Robert ()
Date: January 25, 2015 12:45PM

I attended Schefer School on Fulton Ave in the late 1950s. I had failed the 4th grade in public school so my patents sent me to Schefer School. I loved Schefer School, especially Mrs. Schefer who taught me math. Mr. Schefer taught English (ugh!).

Once a week I was tutored by an elderly retired Admiral of WWII submarine service. He died and was buried at Arlington. I represented Schefer School students at his funeral - I went with Mr. Schefer. His wife gave me one of the Admiral's notebooks with polar graph paper. I'm sorry, I don't remember his name. He was a nice teacher.

At lunch time we would wrestle on an old tarp in the yard. I don't remember the name of the teacher that taught us wrestling but clearly remember he taught me to have an open mind. I learned that my mind and opinions as well counted at Schefer School. Thank you.

I returned to public school but always had a difficult time. Later in life, when I was a junior in college, I started to suspect I had a reading disability. Over the years I can see how this situation impeded my education until college. Neither my parents or teachers knew about this in the 1950s-60s. They saw a bright kid who could fix anything but just didn't do well in school. I just couldn't read well. Today, such conditions would be identified. An undiagnosed reading disability is difficult to deal with when you don't understand what is happening to you.

I wanted to be a physicist but taking German was part of the curriculum in those days. Heck, I couldn't pass English (that's why I avoided Mr. Schefer when possible!). So I graduated from VPI with a degree in Engineering Science and Mechanics (which is really just applied physics), the most mathematical engineering discipline. I just retired after a 38 year long engineering career at the nuclear facilities in Oak Ridge, TN. Yes, I still have a reading disability. I can't change that. I can read a textbook on thermodynamics faster than I can read a history book. I just learned to read math and science better.

Schefer School gave me the confidence to keep going and not give up, and I am very grateful for my time there. They were way ahead of their time in education. Thank you Mr. & Mrs. Schefer.

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Re: Schefer Schools-Does Anyone Remember?
Posted by: start one ()
Date: January 25, 2015 05:23PM

Schefer School Alum Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Went there in the 80s. Often thing about it and
> what happened to some of the people who
> worked/went there. As someone else said, it was
> one of the first alternative schools to help get
> kids back on track. It certainly helped me. Too
> bad there's not a Facebook page or something for
> alums. At least I haven't found one.


You can start one. Or a fb group

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Re: Schefer Schools-Does Anyone Remember?
Posted by: A believer alumni!!! ()
Date: August 01, 2015 11:36PM

I spent my first 4 years in a public grade school in Falls Church. My parents realized the teaching was weak and transferred us over to St James, a catholic school in FC. That´s where my 3 brothers and I all hit the fan! Not a single one of us managed more than 2 years. Our public schooling was so weak that we didn´t even know what the work ESSAY was, we had never done one and hadn´t a clue as to write one. When I had to go to the board do to long division, I was horribly embarrased when I couldn´t do it! I stopped doing my homework for feeling so horribly lost in the traditional methods which the parochial school forced! But the more I began putting it off, the worse it got and the more I got into trouble and apparently my brothers as well!

I attended Shefer school having almost failed 6th grade. I went into Shefer totally defeated and disinterested convinced I was stupid! Shefer school recuperated me by boosting my confidence to the point that I recovered 6th, 7th and 8th and prepared for 9th only in 2 years at Shefer. When I left Shefer I was able to return to the traditional private schools and compete. My grades weren´t the best and once back into that traditional method I began to fail once again, but I didn´t return to Shefer, instead I realized that I had to fight.

I´m now a school Principal of a private school where I have learned so many tremendous principles from those two brief years at Shefer. I don´t use the same methodology but have trained the teachers that each child has his pace and way of learning and that this must be respected and that each child deserves to be respected and encouraged and that in this kind of atmosphere, the child will learn to ENJOY learning and thereby blossom!

In all my 23 years of schooling, from preschool, Kindergarten, primary and secondary schools, and two university degrees I have NO DOUBTS that Shefer School was my very best schooling experience!!! I learned the most there and learned that I am one student who thrives in an auto-didactic learning situation!!!

Shefer school was RADICAL and WAY AHEAD OF ITS TIME!!!! We need MORE SCHOOLS like Shefer!!!!!!!

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Re: Schefer Schools-Does Anyone Remember?
Posted by: Schefer Alum ()
Date: October 07, 2015 04:44AM

I'm looking for info also, did they even put out a yearbook, nothing on classmatesDOTcom either, went there in early 80's

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Re: Schefer Schools-Does Anyone Remember?
Posted by: 1982 Schefer ()
Date: December 28, 2015 09:37PM

I went to Schefer school at the old Fairlington elementary building in 1981-1982 for 10th grade. I was just looking for something online and this is all I found, but it was a small operation.

The descriptions of the Schefer family are very accurate. I remember Mr. Anton Schefer was a somewhat stuffy gentleman who along with his mother was very involved in the school. Looking back I think they were probably very caring people but they did have some very antiquated ways about them. When I started at the school, I first had to go to their home (which doubled as a school) in Falls Church. I may be embellishing but I remember a somewhat creepy Victorian mansion. I wasn't thrilled about going but my parents insisted on getting me out of public schools. I wasn't a bad kid but I had some health problems and missed some time, an undiagnosed learning disability and I was pretty tuned out to school at 15 or 16 years old.

The principal(?) of the school was an older woman named Miss Mooney, another guy was named I think Mr. Hicks or Hickman. My teacher was Mrs. Chilcoat (may have been spelled differently). There were about 10 kids in the class I remember some of the names: Bob, Brook, Tim, Scott, Dan, Jon, Robin (only girl in the class for most of the year) We used to have to bring bagged lunches to class (no cafeteria) and they had a smoking court or just a picnic table that they let you smoke cigarettes at.

I hadn't thought about this place for years until I went to the Fairlington school (which is used as a community center and HOA meeting place now) and I flashed back. This has been interesting to read, I never knew that Mrs. Schefer had been on the Titanic and as an adult I can appreciate the teachers more than I did in those days.

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Re: Schefer Schools-Does Anyone Remember?
Posted by: 1982 Schefer ()
Date: December 28, 2015 09:40PM

Mistake above, I was in the 11th grade class, not the 10th. There was a 10th grade and I think a 9th grade class was taught there, but definitely not a senior class.

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Re: Schefer Schools-Does Anyone Remember?
Posted by: Tony Reckmeyer ()
Date: June 02, 2016 01:19PM

I went to Schefer School for Fall of 1972 to Spring of 1975. Where I graduated from the 9th Grade and then went onto Christchurch School in Christchurch, VA an Episcopal Board School for Boys and we had girl day student there and I graduated from HS in 1978 from Christchurch School! I went to the McLean Branch of the Schefer school. 2 years we met at the Lewinsville Presbyterian Church on Chain Bridge Rd and then we met at St. Thomas Episcopal Church at the end of Lewinsville Rd by Rout 7 my last year..... After I went onto Christchurch School! I did get caught up over the 3 years that I was there.

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Re: Schefer Schools-Does Anyone Remember?
Posted by: Gregg Lorenzen ()
Date: May 12, 2019 09:09PM

I went to Schefer from 1967 thru 69. I was diagnosed with dyslexia and a learning disorder. Flunked out in Fairfax. Anton was young back then and was teaching. Mr and Mrs Schefer taught. I remember Mrs Carmody well, she made me memorize and recite the Charge of the Light Brigade. They got me on track and taught me how to function with my challenges. I have done well and I owe those people a debt of gratitude.

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