Longtime teacher 'was old school'

Longtime La Cañada Flintridge educator Kathleen Seiler Borrowman died on Aug. 16 after a lengthy illness, according to her family. She was 83.

Seiler Borrowman started as a fourth-grade teacher at La Cañada Elementary School in 1954. She later worked as a resource and reading specialist at since-closed Oak Grove Elementary School and led the La Cañada Teachers Assn. She retired in 1989. Following her retirement, she served on a part-time basis as a specialist at Paradise Canyon Elementary.

She had a reputation for being strict but passionate about education, according to family members.

Susan Woudenberg, one of her daughters, said Seiler Borrowman's legacy lives on today. “I belong to a group on Facebook, ‘Growing up in La Cañada,'” she said. “And I get to hear quite often, ‘Mrs. Borrowman, she was so strict.'”

“She was old school,” Woudenberg added. “If you wanted to learn, she would give you everything you needed to learn, and she didn't suffer fools.”

Woudenberg said her mother was also a vigorous advocate for district teachers during her tenure as president of the La Cañada Teachers Assn. in the early 1970s. In 1989 Seiler Borrowman was quoted in the Valley Sun advocating for better retirement benefits for La Cañada Unified School District teachers — from a picket line in front of La Cañada High School.

Woudenberg attended Oak Grove Elementary while her mother worked there, and said her mother's focus on education was impressed upon her and her siblings.

“Of course all of her kids valued education; the difficult part was having her teach at the same school we attended,” she said. “It meant that we had a bird's-eye view of the school and inside scoop on the teachers we had — but we had to stay out of trouble or it went straight back to Mom.”

Seiler Borrowman is survived by her husband of 51 years, Bob Borrowman; son John Borrowman of Las Vegas; daughter and son-in-law Kathleen and Jim Mack, of Las Vegas; and daughter and son-in-law Susan and Antoon Woudenberg, of Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

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