A former Rochester resident, 90-year-old Rev. Jerry Barnhart, has a new program airing on the RCTC public cable access channel, CCTV. His show, "Thoughts to Inspire," includes prose, poetry, and music, which he interprets during the program.

Barnhart’s story began with a childhood in South Dakota and continued in Korea, where he served as an Army band trumpet player. Additionally, he was joined by his ventriloquist dummy, Archie, and the two performed in a vaudeville show. Returning stateside after three years in the Army, Barnhart completed seminary in Chicago and served as a nursing home chaplain in southern Minnesota for many years. He and his late wife, June, settled in Rochester in 1995.

Barnhart, serving as a chaplain, was at the groundbreaking and dedication of Soldiers Field Veterans Memorial. He also served as a UCC pastor in Plainview during his 15-plus years in Rochester.

After his wife passed away, Barnhart decided it was time to move closer to family and settled in an apartment in Chisago City near one of his sons. These days he is keeping busy with his television program. Barnhart films two programs a month by his plant-filled bay window. "With the camcorder running, music plays while I read a poem or some prose," he said.

Check out Rochester Public Access, Spectrum channel 181, Monday through Friday at 1 p.m. for some inspiration from Jerry Barnhart.

'Respect goes both ways'

Will Ruffin II, a fifth-grade teacher at Lincoln K-8 school in Rochester, was recently recognized at his alma mater’s 2019 homecoming.

A 2001 graduate of the University of Mary near Bismarck, N.D., Ruffin received the Bell Banner Award, given to a graduate who upholds the tenets of the university’s sponsors, the Benedictine Sisters of Annunciation Monastery. Their core values are "respect, hospitality, moderation, service, community, and prayer." It is those very ideals that Ruffin uses to live his life and model for his students.

Ruffin moved to Rochester from Los Angeles and has been a teacher with Rochester Public Schools for 11 years. His first job was teaching fifth grade at Riverside Elementary.

In addition to his classroom duties at Riverside, he took over All Pro Dads, a program that "provides an opportunity for dads to spend quality time with their children that will strengthen their relationship, as well as benefiting the child’s school and the entire community."

While he did not bring All Pro Dads to Rochester, Ruffin has been instrumental in growing the program in elementary schools throughout the RPS district. Kids connecting with adults is a critical element of All Pro Dads. However, Ruffin adds, "Don’t let the title keep you from being a part of it." He knows that kids thrive with positive interactions from any grown-up in their lives.

As a teacher, Ruffin aims to "build an inclusive community in (his) classroom."

"When we go through ups and downs, we can lean on each other," he said, adding, "Respect goes both ways." Just as he asks his students to listen to him, he, too, listens to them.

Ruffin, working to promote ethical behavior, believes kids need to hear positive messages "in many places and many times."