GOOD NEWS: Midland ISD educator nominated for National LifeChanger of the Year Award

MIDLAND Barbara Yarbrough, a parent liaison at South Elementary School has been nominated for the 2021-2022 national LifeChanger of the Year award.

Sponsored by the National Life Group Foundation, LifeChanger of the Year recognizes and rewards the very best K-12 educators and school district employees across the United States who are making a difference in the lives of students by exemplifying excellence, positive influence and leadership.

Yarbrough was nominated by her former colleague, David Cook. She has served in Midland, since 1959, beginning at Carver Junior/Senior Colored High School, which was a segregated black high school, and continued to elementary school. From that point, she would have a storied career, impacting the lives of children and the community until 1996, when she “retired.” For Yarbrough however, retirement actually meant transitioning from the classroom to the role of parent liaison, where she serves through the present day.

“In my 18 years serving as the counselor at South, I watched and participated with Yarbrough as she cared for children on their worst days and celebrated with them on their best days,” Cook said. “Yarbrough remembers people. She actually looks at them and into them, seeing the best person that they are in spite of whatever morass in which they might currently find themselves. She visits houses and sees people on the street.”

Yarbrough calls people by name – remembering them, sometimes, from a classroom 50 years ago – and asks about their lives and families. She remembers their parents, their families, and their triumphs and tragedies. People are valuable and important to her. Every former and current student and staff member knows that they can contact her when someone dies, when they’re in trouble, or when they have that special day. They call, and Yarbrough responds. At almost 86 years old, she greets children daily outside of her campus. She ensures that they have food in their house, clothing and shoes at the ready, and most importantly, an advocate who unconditionally supports and values them as they are.

“Barbara Jean Bolden Yarbrough is a LifeChanger and an educator in the truest sense of the words,” Cook said. She’s the fairy godmother of South Elementary School, and an icon in Midland. She is a grandmother to my child (and many, many others), a mentor to myself and my wife, and a supporter of all things good in our city. Whether you are at South Elementary, Midland High School, or shopping at HEB, Barbara is visible, active, and involved in the life and blood of our city. She is essential. She is beloved. She is good. We in this city love her and are better for her.”

About LifeChanger of the Year

Each school year, LifeChanger of the Year receives hundreds of nominations from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Eighteen individual LifeChanger of the Year awards will be given during the 2021-2022 school year.

  • (1) Grand Prize Winner, will receive $10,000 to be shared with their school/district.
  • (4) Grand Prize Finalists, will receive $5,000 to be shared with their school/district.
  • (10) LifeChanger Award Winners, will receive $3,000 to be shared with their school/district.
  • (1) Spirit Award Winner, This award is given to the nominee whose community demonstrates the most support for their nomination. The winner will receive $5,000 to be shared with their school/district.
  • (1) Capstone Award Winner, This award is given to a nominee retiring at the end of the 2019-20 school year. The winner will receive $3,000 to be shared with their school or district.
  • (1) Spotlight Award Winner, This award is given to a nominee in a specific discipline each year. For 2021-22, the Spotlight Award will be given to a school nurse. The winner will receive $5,000 to be shared with their school or district.

Winners are chosen by a selection committee comprised of former winners and education professionals. Nominees must be K-12 teachers or school district employees. To be considered for an award, nominees must

Make a positive impact in the lives of students enhance their school or district’s atmosphere, culture and pride demonstrate exemplary leadership at the school and/or district level possess a proven record of professional excellence show commitment to building a nurturing environment that supports learning adhere to the highest moral and ethical standards

A resource page with ideas for how to celebrate nominees can be found at

To view Yarbrough’s LifeChanger of the Year nominee profile, or to nominate someone from your school community, visit