In memory of
Sue Kefauver or "Ms. K"
Los Altos HS Teacher 1986-2006
Freestyle Academy Film Teacher 2006-2014
Sue passed away at her El Granada home early Sunday morning, October 11, 2015 ending a courageous 21-month battle against glioblastoma. The daughter of William and Phyllis Kefauver, Sue is survived by her loving husband, Larry Wainblat, her mother, her older brother Bill, younger brother Jim and older sister Nancy.
In lieu of gifts or flowers, Sue's family prefers to have people make donations to support foundations doing work important to Sue. Donations can be made in Sue’s memory to either:
- Vision Maker Media (which supports Native American media to allow members of the Native community to tell their own stories) https://www.visionmakermedia.org/donate or go to the main site and there is a donate button: https://www.visionmakermedia.org/ or mail checks to: Vision Maker Media, 1800 N 33rd St., Lincoln, NE 68503
- Black Mesa Trust (supports efforts of the Hopi tribe to protect their water rights and sacred lands) https://blackmesatrust.org - click the “gofundme” button on the home page
Tributes and memories
On behalf of Sue, I would like to thank all of you for the many kind messages you sent and the generous support that you provided during the course of Sue’s illness. The nature of the illness made it impossible for Sue to thank you all directly, but the community’s love and support meant the world to her as she battled her disease, so please know that you made a difference. Thank you all so very much.
~Larry (Sue's husband)
Being part of the development of Freestyle stands as one of the proudest things I've done in my years in education, and at the top of that experience was the opportunity to create the first Freestyle faculty team. That first group of teachers had to have several things in common: they had to be well respected by both their students and peers; they had to be very talented teachers who were also committed to working with peers; they had to be eager to be part of a fledgling and unproven program that would demand a great deal from them but that had the potential to dramatically change the course of the lives of many young people, as well as their own; and they had to really like kids.
Sue met that criteria in spades and as a charter member of the Freestyle faculty she helped shape the direction and culture that has now proven to be transformative in the lives of so many. She has left a legacy that would make any educator proud.
~Rich Fischer, former MVLA UHSD Superintendent who had the vision of creating Freestyle
Sue's rap style was so smoooooth ... check her out
~Leo Florendo (fellow Freestyle Teacher)
For her "provocative" taste in cinema, for the films she showed as "part of our culture", for her cat stories, for her wit, for her brilliance, I will forever be in her debt. She was one of the most influential people in my young life and without question helped shape the person I am today.
I will miss her deeply.
~Margaret Lewis (Freestyle Alumni 2008)
Ten years ago in June during my first days in the district, I met Sue who was helping to transform an old tired continuation school campus into a new vibrant Freestyle. During the following years, I came to know Sue as a passionate engaged student advocate who embodied the heart and soul of Freestyle and everything that is good about education. With high standards and a critical eye for excellence, Sue was one of the initial founders of Freestyle Academy of Communication Arts and Technology. She will be missed by many but forgotten by few.
~Dr. Barry Groves, former MVLA UHSD Superintendent 2005-2015
We were incredibly lucky to have Sue on our team when we started Freestyle. Not only was she an amazing teacher, but she was a true artist. Everything she learned as a documentary filmmaker and photographer, she brought into the classroom to enrich the lives of her students. We only survived those first crazy years at Freestyle because of her fierce commitment to the arts and her incredible sense of humor. She showed me how to create a life that was both personally rewarding and creatively fulfilling. She will always be one of my great role models.
~Gordon Jack (former Freestyle English Teacher)
I have known Sue since her early days at LAHS when we hired her to develop the Learning Center Program for struggling students. I have always marveled at Sue's commitment to her students, her creativity, flexibility, versatility and ingenuity. I watched her blossom over the years as she took on many diverse roles in the district. Whatever her responsibilities, may that have been teaching English at LAHS, working with struggling students, teaching a Yearbook class or her last assignment as a Film teacher at Freestyle, Sue excelled at them all. Her radiant smile was infectious to her students and her colleagues. Come to think of it, in all the years I have known Sue, I have never seen her sad or frowning. She was revered by her students and loved by us all. Sue will not be forgotten as she has left an indelible mark. We will miss her.
~Brigitte Sarraf, MVLA UHSD Associate Superintendent, Educational Services
The time my wife and I spent with Sue was not long enough to know her well. The connection with Sue was primarily through her husband, Larry. We did attend concerts together and shared a very pleasant meal at a local restaurant. While it wasn’t a long time together, it was enough to be certain that Sue enriched the lives of Larry and others around her. Larry was good for Sue, too. During five years of working closely with Larry, his comments about Sue were always positive. My wife and I understand why. Sue was in that “sweet spot” of having an adventuresome personality while bringing stability to those who were lucky enough to share the adventures.
~Karen McHugh, on behalf of her husband
I first knew her as Ms. K, the smart and funny Film Analysis teacher at LAHS who opened my eyes to the power of classic films like Chinatown, Five Easy Pieces, North by Northwest, Apocalypse Now, The King of Comedy, Taxi Driver, The Conversation, Citizen Kane, Easy Rider, and so many others. She taught me to see film as literature and gave me the creative freedom to make my own film (an unprecedented opportunity at that moment in my education). My daily interactions with Ms. K and the challenges of her class set off an intellectual chain reaction, inspiring me to study the arts in college and to pursue a career in education. A dozen years down the road, I had the unexpected thrill of reuniting with my dear teacher in a most unique and honorable way: as her colleague at Freestyle. As we collaborated on project work for the students we shared, I found myself learning from her and laughing with her once again! So, thank you, Ms. K – Sue – for engaging me, for mentoring me, and for giving life to my mind. I am the teacher I am today because of you.
Jason Greco (fellow Freestyle teacher)
I was fortunate enough to work with Sue for almost five years. She was one of the most dedicated teachers I've even known. Not just to her craft, but to our students and Freestyle as a whole. I admired her in so many ways but one really stands out - I really related to her feistiness, which she dished out when needed, however simultaneously expressing support for her students. That so many Freestyle graduates have gone on to major in film is a testament to Sue's unwavering devotion them. I miss her greatly and wish we all could have had a proper send off for a woman dedicated to teaching for so many years.
~Leslie Parkinson (fellow Freestyle teacher)
While it brings me great sadness to hear that Ms. K has passed away, I know she is in a better place. Sue Kefauver was a one of a kind: an intelligent, kindhearted, hardworking and exciting teacher! I'm not only forever indebted to her for opening my eyes up to the film world, but also for the life lessons she taught me along the way. I will never forget when she assigned me and the rest of my classmates an obituary mockumentary... Haha that's right a fake obituary documentary about ourselves as an exercise to show us how to effectively make a documentary. The exercise proved to be very helpful and in hindsight it speaks to Ms. K's amazing outlook on life. Death is something that we cannot escape, so why let it be a tragedy? Instead, let it be a celebration of the good times that we had with the loved ones we have lost. That's what Ms. K would have wanted. So here's to Sue, may you always be in our hearts as we remember the beautiful impact you had on so many of your students. Thank you and god speed.
~Lambie Lanman (Freestyle Class of 2014)