Legacy of Pratibha Seshappa

Pratibha Seshappa became a very well-known figure at Ames High School during the first six weeks of the school year when she substituted for chemistry teacher Mrs. Sullivan. Students were a little unsure of how the next few weeks would turn out when she appeared on the first day. Would she be a tough grader? How much chemistry did she actually know? Lucky for them, they had nothing to worry about. Although she had her own unique style of teaching, she knew her stuff. Not only did Seshappa’s students learn chemistry, but they had the opportunity to meet a unique woman with a cultured history as well. Pratibha always had the mindset that her students simply had to “think” and they could figure out the answers they needed. One popular teaching method she used was calling on random students instead of waiting for them to raise their hands. “I hated that,” senior Mackenzie Bourke said, “but it was good to see if you were paying attention.” Seshappa not only managed to teach her students the first six weeks of school, but she also turned them into “little Einsteins.” “Because of her, we’re budding chemists,” said senior Elena Nieves-Doyle, who was one of Seshappa’s chemistry students. Born and raised in India, Seshappa learned English from Australian and British teachers and attended Delhi University. Although she prefers biology, she graduated with a master’s degree in zoology. After being a teacher and working with sales in India, Seshappa finally moved to the United States, the last in her family to do so. She arrived in September of 1990 hoping to further her education. She is now happily married with her husband, an engineer in Boone, and has two kids, ages 11 and 14. Although her parents returned to India, her sister and twin brother live in California, while her older sister lives in Chicago. “I hate living in the past. History’s not me,” Seshappa said when asked why she preferred science over other subjects. Her love for science really blossomed when she started doing lab work in the ninth grade. Apart from science, Pratibha enjoys listening to music, especially the Carpenters and other old romantic songs of the seventies and eighties. In her free time you can also find her gardening flowers and greens. Pratibha enjoyed substituting at Ames High School, finding the students a lot of fun. “They are very mature, creative, fun loving, and enthusiastic students,” she said. Seshappa hopes to continue substituting at Ames High School throughout the school year. By doing so she’ll have yet another opportunity to turn Ames High School’s young adults into “Budding Chemists.”