Larry Joblin: A man on a mission

Mr.+Joblin%27s+students+demonstrate+their+historical+knowledge+on+Decades+Day.
Mr. Joblin's students demonstrate their historical knowledge on Decades Day.

Mr. Joblin's students demonstrate their historical knowledge on Decades Day.

Photo by Amanda Strain

Photo by Amanda Strain

Mr. Joblin's students demonstrate their historical knowledge on Decades Day.

Amanda Strain, Features Editor

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At 3:45 p.m., Mr. Joblin walked back into his classroom, having just finished his bus route. He stays after school every day in his political poster-clad history classroom for any student who wants tutoring, or in my case, to interview him.

I pulled up a student desk to the small bare table and chair he uses as the only desk I’ve ever seen him sit behind. Behind us, there were several bookcases stuffed full of nonfiction and history books and all around us were pictures of historical monuments and sights, which go along with the stories he has about his many adventures.

As we talked, Mr. Joblin sat straight-backed in his rolling chair and animatedly explained everything he said with detail and lively hand motions. Throughout the interview, I gained insight into Mr. Joblin’s character, wisdom, reflection on life and advice to his successors. Mr. Joblin is a person who wants to do and see good in the world in every aspect of his life.

Mr. Joblin recounts his childhood with a twinkle in his eyes, as he reminisces on simpler days. He discusses things he would have done differently if he had the knowledge and wisdom that he has now as a child. One thing he always makes a point of to express to his students is the importance of planning ahead to be prepared for all the curve balls life can throw you. “Do better in school to start with, start saving for retirement earlier… long-range planning,” he said when I asked what advice he would have had for his younger self and for the students of this generation.  He expressed the importance of trying harder in school through his personal story and how his lack of long range planning prolonged the finding of his career path, which he finally discovered at 44.

Our 67-year-old history teacher originally went to college to be a speech teacher because of his history in theater, but dropped out when he discovered the artistic side of the career didn’t suit his interests and his funds were depleted. The intended pause in education became an extensive twenty-year hiatus, in which he pursued an occupation as a Boy Scout leader.

The discovery of his passion for history was unveiled because of his curiosity about the historical monuments he was able to see in Boy Scouts, and his developed interest in ancestry. So, he went back to college to once again become a teacher, but this time, for history. Once he graduated college with a bachelor’s degree at 44, he landed his first teaching job at New Hope Middle School. He eventually obtained his master’s degree, which he proclaims is his greatest achievement.

Mr. Joblin recognizes his late start in his career and wants to advise students to work hard and plan ahead as to be more proactive about their path in life. In his twenty-three years of teaching at New Hope, he has recognized a correlation in the students who try hard in their studies, who are “overachievers,” and the students who practice a cordial lifestyle, both of which will help you get farther in life. He says, “Oftentimes your better academic students are more mature, and if they’re more mature they often times are just better, more polite, you know they know how to interact with people. And sometimes people who are immature don’t make as good of grades and don’t do well interacting with adults.” He goes on to say that he has never taught a politer class than the advanced student’s he is teaching this year, his dual enrolled students here at New Hope High School.

Since 1949, Mr. Joblin has seen many changes in society, culture, and technology. When his household first owned a TV he was in either the fourth or the fifth grade and it only possessed a single channel. Mr. Joblin has watched electronics and media continuously advance throughout his life and concludes that technology has both improved and degraded society. With the development of technology, he has seen the spread of hatred and pornography, but also the development of medicine and the spread of knowledge. Mr. Joblin confirms the universal truth about technology, “You can’t make it one or the other it’s both good and bad.” He thinks technology and the internet are tools of humans, and as humanity is neither entirely good or bad neither are our tools.

But, he also states that the amplified spreading of hate is because of the possible anonymity of the internet. “I think we would all be nicer to each other if we knew who each other were,” says Joblin. His input on how society has changed through his life is parallel with the advancement of telecommunications: “When I was a kid growing up where I lived there was never any drugs, there was no stealing, there was no crime to speak of, I mean the little, you might, rare—but, we were segregated and that was wrong. So, we’re not segregated anymore, but now we have a lot more drugs, crime, hatred, you know. Bad stuff.” He admits that both society and technology has changed over the generations for both the better and the worse.

Mr. Joblin sees the good in today’s society and technology, despite the bad, and desires to help provide further improvement by teaching each class that comes through his room about his mistakes and the mistakes of others in history so that they aren’t repeated. He loves righting the wrongs that have been learned through the media and less competent sources so the lessons people apply to their lives are genuine. “All that stuff back then it affects us today. And also, a lot of the stuff back then people are lying about it. There’s stuff that happened in history that most people either don’t know or they think it was different than what it was… there’s so many things that people don’t, they get it wrong. And I like to try to correct those things.”

His selflessness and generosity doesn’t only extend to the sharing of personal revelations and knowledge, but also to material things, like money. “I don’t need to be rich, if I was rich I’d give it away. If I won a hundred-million-dollar lottery tomorrow, I promise you I would give it away. There are so many things that I see needs that I would love to be able to put money into.”

Mr. Joblin was fueled to discover and share history by his curiosity, but also by his desire to spread good in the world. “If we paid more attention to history, maybe we would be better people. History shows us how bad things use to be,” he concludes.

We can see this core desire in every aspect of his personality and life, his career, his views and opinions, and experiences.

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