by Lorie Lewis Ham
Teachers are unsung heroes who often change the lives of our children. Many of us can say that there was a teacher who made a big difference in our lives. That is why we at KRL like to profile some of our local teachers so you can get to know them a little better. This week we are profiling Reedley High School’s World Geography teacher Roger Hoeflinger.
Roger Hoeflinger grew up in Michigan and went to Tabor College in Hillsboro, Kansas, which is where he met his wife, Maxine, who was from Reedley. Before moving to California, Roger taught in Michigan, Kansas, and Oklahoma. While at those schools, he also coached and was the athletic director at two of them. Other jobs he’s had include being a lifeguard during high school and college, and even a brief stint as a police officer in a small town in Kansas. Though he currently lives in Dinuba, he travels back to Michigan to visit family every few years.
Roger is in his 28th year of teaching at Reedley High School, and while he currently teaches World Geography, he has also taught several other classes and coached. “I started teaching career classes and Physical Education and then moved to World Cultures, US History, and now World Geography,” shared Roger. “I even taught a year of general science. I coached JV Football for five years and Track and Field for eight years here at RHS. But I haven’t coached in 20 years.
“I switched to geography last year when we began the course. I think I pushed for this class for so long that when they finally decided to offer it, they told me to teach it.”
“Roger is knowledgeable and passionate about the subject matter he teaches and he enjoys sharing his world geography expertise with his students,” shared Dawn Linhoff, RHS teacher librarian. “I get the opportunity to collaborate with Roger each week as he brings his world geography students to the library for an engaging, semester-long, country float project.”
“A good teacher like [Mr. Hoeflinger] can change the footsteps of a delinquent into a righteous path,” stated one of Roger’s former students, Cindy Cisneros.
“When I had Mr. Hoeflinger as a teacher many students thought he was a bad teacher for treating us as adults and making us get our work done at a certain due date,” continued Cindy. “I thought to myself he is doing this for our benefit because life isn’t easy. I became an independent student and thanks to him I also became who I am at this moment, believing that everything is possible at its time. I not only learned about Geography with him, but also a whole life lesson.”
What has been the hardest for Roger during his years of teaching at RHS, has been the constant changeover of administration at the high school. “Just when I think I’ve got it figured out what they want, we change. I think I’ve worked for over 10 principals in the 28 years I’ve been here.”
Even though he’s not a morning person, Roger’s day typically starts between 5 and 5:30 in the morning so he can get all of his prep done for the day. “I get to school about 6:30 to 7 a.m. I have first period prep and then six classes of world geography. After school, I go to the farm to do chores and get home normally about 5:30 p.m.”
The farm he refers to is Triple J Alpacas, where Roger has been raising alpacas for seven years and currently has 29 of them with four more on the way. They named the farm after their three children whose names all start with J. “We are a full service breeding facility. Raising animals keeps me very busy, especially now during birthing season.”
Roger has managed to integrate his farm life with school by opening the farm to volunteers from 4H, FAA, and pre-vet students from Fresno State. “These students get valuable work experience and can do their various projects at our farm.”
In his rare spare time, Roger is very much an outdoors guy. “My wife always says I was born 150 years too late. I would have been a mountain man or something like that back then. I love to hunt, fish, camp, garden, and raise alpacas.” It is also important to him to spend time with his family, and he and his wife have been very active in their church for years.
“Roger Hoeflinger is a teacher with a big voice and a soft heart,” shared Janet Adams, who teaches English at RHS. “He has devoted himself to his passions, both in the classroom and in raising his ‘babies.’ He stands for what he believes and does not shy away from making his beliefs known. My daughter was enrolled in his world cultures class twelve years ago and appreciated his clear instructions and research projects.”
“Mr. Hoeflinger has always been a great friend, teacher, and mentor to me,” said Special Education teacher and head wrestling coach Fernando Camargo. “He is a good person with a good heart and I am happy that he is in my life.”
While he could retire in two years, Roger isn’t sure that he will, as he loves teaching. “What I like best is working with students who really want to learn and are motivated to do their best.”