Barbra has always been a grown-up name in my opinion. One that I felt didn’t really suit me. My family calls me Barb and often it sounds horrible from the mouths of new acquaintances. Some of my brothers and sisters call me Barbi. My momma always thought I’d be Babs. That didn’t fly until college and the camp scene. My southern friends call me Barbra Irene, don’t forget the drawl! Just after high school I renamed myself Barbra Irene Westfall III. My mother’s mother was Barbara June, my father’s mother Irene Margaret, therefore I am the third. My two year-old roommate Luna squeals Bobbi every time I walk through the door. My grandmother Barbara was called Bobbie. It feels quite right that my newest family, Eleanor Roosevelt Community Learning Center calls me Teacher Bobbi.
When asked what I teach, I say life. It doesn’t matter the size of the student or the arena, I like to share what I know works well for me with whomever is willing to listen.
I graduated from Humboldt State University in Arcata, California with a multiple subjects teaching credential. They say to teach grades K-8. I say life.
While in college, I flew east after three seasons of rain in northern California. I lived through and loved the seasons of Amherst, Massachusetts. After graduating, I went south with Teach for America to teach third and fourth grade in Sunset, Louisiana. I came home after three years, per momma’s request! I taught at Citrus Continuation High School in Porterville for a year before I RETIRED!
I spent 363 days with my orange Diva backpack traveling through Asia’s lovely land learning from the best school I’ve ever known: life. I was blessed to share smiles over miles and meals with families in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, India, Nepal, Malaysia, and Indonesia. I spent time alone on beaches. I walked up steep hills, through thick jungles with leeches, and danced down the streets celebrating in local parades. I read, wrote, and thought. I dissected my observations in my journal each day. I re-read and re-wrote and re-learned about how to smile at every individual in the world.
I spent my 30th birthday dancing through the night in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia after nights of insomnia. I listened to prayer calls, watched with un-blinking eyes as religious rituals were performed, and learned how to silently take it all in. I know I gave myself the best birthday gift ever. It’s a gift that continues to bless me each day.
After retiring, I was ready to teach again. Fortunately, ERCLC needed me and I was ready to join our family.
Camp Tulequoia raised me during middle school as a camper and through my twenties as a counselor. Now, I help raise hundreds of children each summer as the director. I work eye-to-eye with counselors who were once wee ones at my hip. It’s a gift I feel incredibly lucky to open each summer season.
As I tell my new friends, you can call me teacher, director, Bobbi or chocolate; just don’t call me late for dinner!