Joyce Harbolt

by Michael Cooper


Joyce Harbolt: veteran drama teacher at Jenks High School.

Or, Joyce Harbolt: mentor and surrogate mother to thousands of students over her three-decade tenure, including this one. You see, my story in high school (much like everyone else’s) was not without woes. I had my fair share of disappointments, heart break, and stress; but also of happiness, self-evaluation, and discovery. Mrs. Harbolt shared many of those experiences with me. For me, she was a non-judgemental voice of reason, a defender against the hopelessness of high school.

The thing is, I came to recognize that she was this person to all of her students–not just of my friends, or class–but to everyone who ever entered her classroom. From the day she started, until the day she retires later this year, Joyce Harbolt’s domain in a secluded wing of Jenks High School has been a safe-haven for students who needed a place to cry, curse, use their cell phone, or simply take a break from the world around them.

On this Mother’s Day, I encourage you to open your heart a little bit and think not just about your own mother, but of all of the women who have supported and influenced your life. I know that when my thoughts travel to Joyce Harbolt, my heart swells up with an affection for someone who may just be a life saver to more angsty high schoolers than I could imagine.

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