Throughout her career and into retirement, Ohio State Lima alumna Barbara Hochstetler has cultivated the strengths in the people around her, helping them develop the skills and competencies they need to succeed in education and life.
In her 37 years teaching both students and teachers in the Lima City Schools system, Hochstetler spent a good deal of time listening to their needs, hopes and worries. The decision to be a listener helped her in her roles as an elementary teacher and as a school improvement coach who worked with her fellow teachers to implement new and continuing initiatives.
“I still have my posters from that time. I made a flower growing where we as mentors are a guide from the side. You’re not overpowering, but you’re supporting and guiding and then it grows,” said Hochstetler. “I was there to support and guide so that they could go on to become the best they could be.”
The only thing Hochstetler hasn’t excelled at is retirement. She is a dismal failure at it. Since leaving the classroom in 2011, she has served as a field placement supervisor for Wright State-Lake, volunteered at the Allen County Museum as a docent and at the Veterans Memorial Civic and Convention Center as an usher. She also supports her grandchildren in all their activities and sports, which can be a full-time job.
“I’m one that I can’t sit still very long so I would be getting involved in different initiatives,” she said.
When she stopped by campus this autumn, she was in the midst of launching a new version of a successful reading mentoring program. She is working with 60 plus students and the volunteer mentors who come with them in Project MORE in Putnam County, thanks to an Ohio State Lima connection.
Dr. Jan L. Osborn and Hochstetler enrolled in the education program the same year, 1969, and have worked together on and off since graduating in 1972.
“I am in my fifty-second year in public education. I have worked with hundreds and probably thousands of educators during my tenure,” Osborne said. “Barbara Hochstetler is a ‘Teachers, Teacher’ and one of the very finest teachers I have had the privilege to work with during my career.”
Osborn, now superintendent of Putnam County Schools, asked Hochstetler to tackle an after-school version of Project MORE. Hochstetler is the trainer for the project and happy to further the mission of helping every student maximize their reading potential, no matter their ability level. The after-school version is grant-funded and serves mainly second, third and fourth graders who are not reading at their grade levels. She is delighted to facilitate the process that brings the students together with a willing mentor.
“The program helps build the one-on-one time with an adult that's paying attention just to them and then the confidence builds because we start at the student’s independent reading level, not at their grade level,” Hochstetler said. “The mentors gain as much working with the students than maybe the students do. It's just such a joy in their hearts and the students are so appreciative and it's just fun to work with them and to see them with a smile on their face.”