Teacher of the week 8: Joshua Harbeck

Teachers are real life superheroes. Every day, CHS teachers touch the lives of thousands of students, and their work extends beyond the boundaries of the classroom. To show appreciation for these teachers, the Crier asked students to identify teachers that have made a real impact in their lives. A new student and teacher will be featured each week.

For week eight, Sarah Compton, ‘18, nominated English teacher Joshua Harbeck.

Mr. Harbeck discusses Hamlet with his students. Maggie Jakopac | Conant Crier

Mr. Harbeck discusses Hamlet with his students.

Compton: Mr Harbeck has a great, sarcastic sense of humor and makes English class interesting every day. He also is a great teacher, and I’ve improved so much from only a few months of being in his class.

Crier: How did you become an English teacher?

Harbeck: I first started out as a writer for the sports section for the “Lasalle News Tribune.” I mostly covered high school sports, but one year, I also covered the Bulls championship game at the United Center. However, I knew that I didn’t want to be a writer forever, and I really wanted to teach journalism. So I got my teaching degree in English and started teaching. I’ve taught journalism in the past, but right now, I teach regular freshman English, AP Language and Composition, and British Literature.

Crier: What do you do to make English class more interesting?

Harbeck: I don’t really do anything extra to make it fun; I don’t want to be fake with my students. I like to have freedom in my classes. I just express my enjoyment and excitement for the material we cover and hope that’s contagious.

Crier: What do you really like to teach in English class?

Harbeck: I love teaching Shakespeare. My favorite tragedy by him is probably “Hamlet,” and my favorite comedy is “Twelfth Night.” I really like teaching all his works because it’s so interesting how someone from 400 years ago is so influential today. I always wonder, “What’s the big deal with Shakespeare?” and reading and teaching his works helps me understand that. Another wonderful thing about his plays is that they’re so open to interpretation, which makes them enjoyable to teach and act out.

Crier: How do you spend time with your family?

Harbeck: My family and I travel a lot, and I love it. One time, we were on our way to Iowa, and we were driving through a resort in Galena. The road seemed to get very narrow and hard to drive in, and then I realized I was driving in a bike trail! Since there was no room to turn, I had to reverse us all the way down. It was a miracle we got out of there unhurt. I also like to travel to Europe, and for seven years, Mr. Zak Zerby and I have taken our students on a trip from London to Paris.

Crier: What is your favorite movie?

Harbeck: I am a big Star Wars fan, and my favorite movie probably is “Episode 5: The Empire Strikes Back.” Basically, all the bad guys win in that movie. I can’t wait for “Rogue 1” to come out.

Crier: If you weren’t a teacher, what would you be?

Harbeck: I’d probably be a chef. My mother and grandmother, who are from Sweden, have had some great influences on me. I’ve already mastered Swedish pancakes, which are like crepes, and I’m on the verge of mastering the meatballs.

To nominate a teacher who has made an impact in your life, click here.


Aditi Katwala

Aditi Katwala is a senior at Conant High School. She is excited for her final year working on the Crier as an editor in chief. She is also the captain of the Congressional Debate Team, president of HOSA, and involved in BPA. In her free time, she enjoys Indian classical dancing, Netflix and volunteering at local hospitals. Something that many don't know about Aditi is that she did her Bharatnatyam Arangetram (dance graduation) during the summer of 2014.

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