Meet Your Teacher: Barbara Hofmeister

Barbara Hofmeister

Editor’s note: Meet Your Teacher is a feature of the Independent that introduces readers to a community member. To receive a profile form, send an e-mail to ajeditor@newszap.com.

Name: Barbara Hofmeister.

Age: 80.

Where I live: Mountainbrook Village in Gold Canyon.

Where I teach: Three campuses at Central Arizona College in Pinal County.

What I teach: Life-story writing.

How long at school and how long in teaching: I think I have been a teacher since my children were little. I had been trained in the U.S. Air Force as a medical technologist and worked in that field until my last two children were little. Getting kids off to school and the babies to a babysitter was draining. I happened to go to a Tupperware party and thought, “I could do that in the evenings and quit the hospital.” I did just that and considered myself a teacher instead of a salesperson because I was helping homemakers be smarter in the kitchen and I was very successful. When my husband and I retired early in 1989, we sold everything we had and moved into a little motor home to travel full-time. Everyone we met in campgrounds thought it was wonderful and wanted to find out more so we started doing seminars to answer all the questions we had been getting. Soon that evolved to three books on the subject, which we self-published. After 14 full years of not only educating people on the lifestyle and also volunteering in many national parks as tour guides (still educating), we finally settled down here in Arizona early in 2003. And it was then that I started teaching the life-story writing classes and began working on my own story, which I finished in 2012. I had my first classes in Mountainbrook then in 2006 started with the college. Because so many wanted the class I branched out to various communities and held the eight-week classes there sometimes doing three or more communities each week. I’ve been back at the college since 2010.

What I like most about what I do: People really appreciate what I do and they generally can’t thank me enough.

What is the most challenging aspect of teaching: I want short, concise stories that stick to the title and at first the writers write too much and can’t seem to stop at the end of the incident. It generally takes a couple of classes before they get that firm in their mind.

My classroom philosophy: I want everyone to feel they can share even the most awful story and not be judged because we all have them. In fact I give the first sample story, which is my own, and it is graphic and scary.

How I handle difficult days: Believe it or not there are no difficult days. My students are there because they want to write their story and they work diligently at it.

If I had picked a different occupation, it might have been: I wanted to be a writer when I was in high school so that is what I might have chosen.

My interests and hobbies: I love playing bridge and pinochle in my community. I also have directed eight plays and four variety shows since living in Mountainbrook. And I acted in two other plays, which was fun.

My family: I have four children but they left home before I did and they live in southern California, southern Florida, Seattle and Kansas City. My husband died early in 2012.

The trait(s) I admire in others: Their endurance. Because the students have to read their stories in class each week, I have heard of some awful things that have happened to people and yet they survive.

People who inspired me (and how): A woman in one class wrote about the accident in which her three sons were killed on the same day while installing some electrical equipment for their business. These weren’t boys, they were men with families. I can’t imagine healing after that but she taught us that time heals all wounds.

My advice to my students: I encourage them to write about anything in their life without worrying about who else it will affect. After it is written they don’t have to put it in their book, but they will find that writing heals. If it is something bad that they have been carrying around, they don’t have to own it any longer.

What is one side effect of teaching this class you didn’t expect: Imagine a class of 16-20 strangers who start sharing their stories aloud in class. They listen and care and it becomes a lot like group therapy. And they stay friends. It is awesome.

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Hofmeister teaches ‘Learn how to write your life story’

eave a legacy for your children, grandchildren and great grandchildren yet to be born. Write your life story. It is easy with Barb Hofmeister’s help. She teaches an eight-week class at three campuses of Central Arizona College.
The fee for the course is $99 and a textbook is included. Classes are limited to 20. To register for a class, call 480-677-7721 or e-mail Joel Beck joel.beck@centralaz.edu.
Ms. Hofmeister’s teaches writing short stories from different parts of your life starting with early childhood and continuing on until retirement. You do not need any writing experience. If you can write a letter, you can write your story. You won’t believe how easy it is. And the class is fun and friendly with everyone sharing their stories.
She has been teaching life story writing in the east Valley since 2006 and she has completed her own life story, “My Rocky Road to the Good Life—the whole story.” It is available on Amazon.com.

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