History of the West Park Neighborhood
Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio



Barbara Sedio

 

Teacher at John Marshall High School


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In Memory of John Marshall High School Teacher Barbara Sedio


Contributed by Tom Tiratto


 

Recording artist, vocalist, and actor, Tom Tiratto, spent his youth in Cleveland where he attended John Marshall High School. He studied percussion and guitar while playing drums in the school band, also taking part in drama events and musicals. He has gone on to a long musical career and appeared on many television shows and radio programs with his popular "Tribute to Frank Sinatra" in which he brings "Old Blue Eyes" back to life through music and song. When not performing around the country he makes his regular home near Little Rock, Arkansas.


Miss Barbara Sedio was my math teacher during my senior year at John Marshall High School. I saw her on a daily basis from September of 1970 to June of 1971. I had a very difficult time concentrating on mathematics in her class because she was an absolutely beautiful woman. Of course, as a seventeen-year old kid, my first reaction to Miss Sedio was purely a physical attraction. She was only twenty-four years old at the time, not much older than her students. She was young and one of us.

Mini-skirts were the dress for young women back then and Miss Sedio modeled them very well. While talking to us she would innocently lean against her desk or sit on the edge of it. It was very distracting. Yet she was a very effective teacher who really understood how to teach mathematics. She stayed focused on the subject matter and avoided any discussions about her personal life.

On the other hand, I'd attempt to see her whenever I could; discussing my grades after class, chance encounters, and any other opportunity I could think of. I had a tremendous crush on Miss Sedio and I believe she realized it. I probably wasnít the first or the last.

Did I know her? Not really. We had a few conversations from time to time. I remember asking what her favorite music was and she said she liked the group The Fifth Dimension. She was also an accomplished artist who liked to draw and paint. My conversations with her were very casual. She was aware of my feelings for her and seemed to have experience in handling such reactions from a student. She never said anything to hurt my feelings or my confidence.

At my commencement ceremony at Cleveland Public Hall on June 11th, 1971, I had a special moment with Miss Sedio which made a great impression on me and has stayed with me all my life.

I was walking out to my car at the conclusion of the event when I encountered Miss Sedio in the parking lot. As I searched for the right way to say goodbye I guess she knew by my manner that I very much wanted to kiss her. We embraced for a moment and shared a brief kiss that seemed to go right through me. I've never forgotten it. I went home that evening with my head in the clouds.

Some people might misconstrue the tone of this fleeting moment between a beautiful young math teacher and her admiring student but we both understood we would go our separate ways. There would be no relationship to blossom. She seemed to understand I had all these pent up feelings for her simply based on the fact I found her so attractive. After we parted company that night, I walked away in a state of euphoria. And for the very first time in my eighteen years I felt what it might be like to be in love.

I think Miss Sedio knew what she was doing and treated me with kid gloves. She taught me one last lesson before I went out into the world - relationships between men and women should not be based purely on physical attraction. There can be so much more.

Later that summer I enlisted in the Air Force and never saw Miss Sedio again. I got married to my high school sweetheart and we had children of our own. I thought about Miss Sedio many times over the years but the passage of time has a way of relegating such adolescent memories into obscurity.

In early 2009, I was stunned and devastated when an old friend asked if I was aware Barbara Sedio had passed away long ago! I'd had no idea. Eventually I learned she died in 1988. She'd already been gone for over 21 years but the tremendous loss hit me as though it had just happened.

I needed to find out what had taken Barbara Sedio from us at such an early age. I was able to contact her parents, now in their nineties. Barbara's mother was a little skeptical at first and wondered why someone was asking about her daughter after so many years. I explained that her daughter has not been forgotten by those whose lives she touched, and I just wanted to know something about the lovely person her daughter was.

Barbara's mother warmed up and became more willing to speak with me, sharing some information about her daughter. Barbara Sedio was born October 14th 1947 and died August 8th, 1988, far too young at only forty years of age. She was raised as a Catholic, and attended St. Thomas Moore Catholic School as a child. Growing up in the Brooklyn/Memphis area, Barbara was a very inquisitive and intelligent little girl who showed signs of being a child prodigy with numbers during preschool. I'm told she was also a wonderful artist.

She made a trip to Europe during the 1960s, traveling alone, which caused her mother some worry. Barbara got along well with her older brother Daniel and had many friends although she never married. Barbara excelled during her college years and the skills she acquired as a teacher developed into a rewarding career. She left her teaching position at John Marshall High School in about 1973 to further her career in psychology.

On the afternoon of August 8th, 1988, she and a colleague had diner in Port Clinton, Ohio. As they were leaving the restaurant, Miss Sedio was entering the flow of traffic when a nineteen-year old driver struck Miss Sedioís car broadside (driver's side) killing her instantly. Her passenger was seriously injured and was hospitalized for three months.

The Sedio Family seems to feel justice was never served in this case. Iím told the nineteen-year old girl who hit Miss Sedioís car was the daughter of a public official in Port Clinton. Apparently no arrests were made and the accident was under-investigated. I have never read any of the official documents in the case so canít be certain how accurate these details are. I am sure, however, that many of Miss Sedio's students from John Marshall would be interested in what we know of her life and death.

I still feel a sense of loss and mourning for a person I haven't seen in 38 years. As teens we are very impressionable, and Miss Sedio left an impression which will stay with me all the days of my life.

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Updated 11 August 2014