On Wednesday, May 20, 2020, Thomas “Tom” M. Schelstrate, PhD, age 74, died peacefully at home in Arlington, VA, in the company of his wife and stepson Eric. He leaves behind his wife (Barbara Schelstrate), daughter (Emily Lenneville), two stepsons (Eric Reinhardt, Chinyelu Reinhardt), along with grandchildren (Conner Reinhardt, Maya Ma'at, Alec Reinhardt, Ahkia Jones, Rashida Reinhardt, Anna Lenneville and Paul Lenneville), his five siblings, their spouses and children. Born in Davenport, Iowa, on May 24, 1945, to Frank E. and Catherine H. Schelstrate, Tom spent the last 40 years of his life as a resident of South Arlington. He worked 37 years for Arlington County Public Schools, the vast majority at Washington-Liberty (W-L) High School.
During his tenure at W-L, Dr. Schelstrate was instrumental in the school’s adoption of the International Baccalaureate program; he initiated W-L’s student teacher development partnership with Marymount University; and more recently organized student groups to improve the school’s landscaping. His roles at the school went beyond teaching and included, at times, Social Studies Department Chair, Interim Assistant Vice Principal, and Student Success Coordinator. He was faculty advisor for student groups, such as the Environmental Club and Bike Club, and coached girls basketball and softball during his career as well.
Tom was a Vietnam war veteran (Army) and former NPR employee. As a young man, he laid railroad track and worked factory jobs; but he found his true calling as a teacher and mentor of young people. His intentional connection to students, colleagues, staff, and employees of Arlington Public Schools built a community he deeply loved.
Given the current pandemic, the family is not making immediate plans for an in-person memorial. Memories can be shared online at https://www.memories.net/page/5519/thomas-schelstrate, and donations can be made to Washington-Liberty High School in memory of Thomas Schelstrate. The address is 1301 N Stafford Street, Arlington, VA, 22201. Our deepest thanks go to the Arlington community, which supported him through his adult life and in these last months after his glioblastoma diagnosis.