Home > Dan Schaffer > Jane Schaffer, expert on essay composition, dies

Jane Schaffer, expert on essay composition, dies

SAN DIEGO (SDJW)–Jane Schaffer, a master teacher whose methodology for writing essays is taught in high schools around the country, died of brain cancer early Sunday morning at home.  She was 64.

Schaffer, wife of San Diego Jewish World contributor and former San Diego Jewish Times columnist Dan Schaffer, had valiantly fought the cancer up until the time earlier this month when she slipped into a coma.

Her brave fight was the subject of a prize-winning essay written by her daughter, Sarah Cooper and reprinted on San Diego Jewish World.   The essay may be accessed by clicking here.Arrangements for a celebration of her life are being made, family members said.

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Preceding was a San Diego Jewish World staff report

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  1. Bernadette Higby
    November 25, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    Ms. Schaffer was my AP English teacher when she taught at Santana High School. I am so very saddened to hear of her passing. I was living in foster care while in my junior and senior year. It was a difficult time in my life. I was actually brave enough to write an essay regarding my life “in the system.” Ms. Schaffer was so kind and nurturing to me. She took me under her wing and became my biggest cheerleader. We kept in touch for years after my graduation, and exchanged Christmas cards every year. To this day, whenever writing something, I always take extra care not to use the words “very” or “extremely.”

    While searching for a high school for my eigth-grader to attend here in Tucson, I read that the “Jane Schaffer Method” is utilized for the composition of essays. I was so excited and had to find out whether or not she was my Jane Schaffer. Thusly, I was brought to this site where I learned of her passing.

    Whenever I speak to anyone about those who’ve influenced my life the greatest, Ms. Schaffer is at the top of my list. She believed in me when no one else did, and made me believe that I could accomplish anything. Ms. Schaffer was much more than a teacher to me; she was a dear friend who will be greatly missed.

  2. LEE Huddleston
    September 30, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    Jane Schaffer …a champion for students…for logical and analytiical writing. We still miss you and how many are using your format for teaching the basics! Millions.

  3. Heather McConnell Bolles
    September 8, 2011 at 9:13 am

    As I was looking for Jane’s writing program to help some teachers I work with, I found the sad news that she passed away last year. Jane was my high school AP teacher in the early 1980’s and worked her magic with us. I was her student aide and my friend Eva Williamson and I needed a special schedule because we were editors of the Santana newspaper. Jane was a friend for many years and I wrote my CBEST essay on her. I even ran into her that day at SDSU right after my test. I told her what I had written and she laughed. I have to say that I am the teacher I am today because of her. To Dan and Sara, my condolences.

  4. Charles Reidelbach
    September 27, 2010 at 5:00 pm

    I am sorry to recently hear of Jane’s passing. I was one of her attorney’s who assisted her in protecting her creative teaching materials. My thoughts are with her and all of her family. She is missed.

    Charles Reidelbach

  5. Lynn Abernathy Saunders
    September 12, 2010 at 4:03 pm

    Mrs. Schaffer was an inspiration to me. She was a tough taskmaster and a gentle encourager. She inspired me to do my best in college and afterward. Everything she taught me in high school English classes at Santana High School back in the 70’s was put to good use during my working life, and still is now that I home school my 11 year old daughter. I am honored to have been her student and feel the loss of her physical presence in this world. May God bless your family as you go through this loss.

  6. Robert Pacilio
    September 8, 2010 at 8:48 pm

    Jane was a rebel. Her ideas on writing were one of two important innovations I saw in 32 years of taching, the other was class size reduction–now long gone. But Jane’s legacy will not be gone. Her generous, humorous nature will be always in my soul.

  7. Lauren Roedy
    September 8, 2010 at 1:37 pm

    Jane Schaffer changed me as a teacher and as a writer. Her program has helped so many students at my school, students with learning differences who would be lost in debilitating anxiety if not for her guidance. They go on to college and thrive because of her!! I wave a bold red, green, blue, and black flag of honor for Jane’s accomplishments. She was a mentor to me for a decade. She was a dear friend. She made me laugh, made me work hard, made me believe in what I did. Quite simply: I love her. “In the book of life, death is a comma not a period.”

  8. Laura Hagan
    September 8, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    I met Jane as an arrogant, smart-aleck, know-it-all high school sophomore in 1982, and was fortunate to be in her AP classes for the next two years and to have her friendship for the following 25. She taught me much more than the structure of an essay. Jane Schaffer taught me humility and perspective. I hope that she taught me even a smidgen of her empathy, patience, and compassion. I wish she had been able to teach me her wonderful gift for humor, but alas, those seeds were planted in stony ground.

    I can’t express the debt I owe to Jane, and by extension to Dan and Sarah for sharing her with me. She was one of the best people I have ever known, and I count myself ever fortunate to have had the privilege of learning from her.

  9. Gretchen Polnac
    August 24, 2010 at 10:29 am

    I knew Jane for almost 30 years. She was most influential in helping me decide how to structure a language arts learning environment. She was wonderful woman and her passing leaves a void in the writing community.

  10. amber lovin
    August 23, 2010 at 9:19 pm

    I just heard today. I had both Mrs. Schaffer and Mr. Schaffer as a student at West Hills, and again I saw them recently in the Kaiser halls. I am very sorry to hear of her passing and am glad that Mr. Schaffer has a good support group.

  11. Nadine Yacapin Adrian
    August 23, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    I was a student of Mrs. Schaffer at West Hills High School in the late 80’s-’91. I heard the news of her passing today from a classmate. I am a lawyer, and am sure that much of my success stems from her teachings. I have reaped the benefits of her teaching from the college entrance exam I wrote as part of her English assignment, through law school, and now in my legal practice. I feel very fortunate to have known her. My deepest condolences to her family.

  12. August 22, 2010 at 11:29 am

    Nancy and I had the privilege of spending some of the last few weeks of Jane’s conscious life with her and Dan, typically after her Wednesday afternoon treatments at the Kaiser Medical Center. We would meet at 4:30 p.m. at a local restaurant–often Souplantation or Filippi’s Pizza Grotto, which are both on Mission Gorge Road near the hospital.

    No matter how tired the treatments made her, Jane never would complain. She always turned the conversation to questions about grandchildren and children, or perhaps current events. We marveled that with all the problems besetting her physically, she would continue to be so interested in our family members. But that is the way Jane was, always reaching out, always questioning, always encouraging people to express themselves. She was a good listener, one of the very best. We shall surely miss her, while treasuring her memory.

    Now our thoughts are focused on Dan, who has held himself together through this awful ordeal. Although he intends to stay in San Diego, in that wonderful home in Mission Hills, he’s sure to feel lonely all alone there. Those of us who are lucky enough to count him among our friends need to rally to his side, not only now in the immediate aftermath of Jane’s passing, but afterwards, when for everyone but for Dan and daughter Sarah and her family, the world will have seemed to return to normal.

  13. Sheila Orysiek
    August 22, 2010 at 11:06 am

    I first met Jane approximately three years ago at Don Harrison’s house and was immedidately taken with this bright engaging woman. We talked about our mutual enjoyment in writing.

    Subsequently whenever I received an e-mail from Jane complimenting me on something I had written for this site, I felt tremendously honored – first that she would take the time to read it, and second that she would take the time to write to me.

    As I grew to know her, one couldn’t help but be inspired by her gallent fight for her life. I often wondered would I have such courage? I don’t know that answer – but I do know the answer she gave – yes, indeed, she was courageous and even to the end involved more with others than isolated within her own problem.

    There will be much to celebrate when a “celebration of her life” takes place.

    My heartfelt condolences to all the family.

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