Jenison counselor returns to school for 52nd year

Posted at 7:12 AM, Aug 20, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-20 07:12:21-04

JENISON, Mich. -- Students and teachers are heading back to class across West Michigan, including one teacher who is returning to school for his 52nd year.

Mr. Terry Dykstra, a Jenison High School counselor has worked at the school for over half a century.

As you can imagine it takes a special person to not only be a teacher but teach with passion for all those years and he has it!

"I think I long wanted to be a teacher just because of the impact that you can make with kids," said Terry Dykstra, High School Counselor at Jenison High School.

Mr. Dykstra has been walking the halls of Jenison High School for 52 years as school counselor.

"I’ve never counted. It seems more recently others have been counting," he said.

We heard about Mr. Dykstra through his son Todd, who wanted to recognize his dad's long career.

"You know I ask him every year about May are you going back for another year? And I think I’ve asked that question probably the last decade or so and he continues to say he’s going back," said his son Todd Dykstra.

Mr. Dykstra started at Jenison High School when he was 24 years old.  He wanted to teach, but says his path led him to becoming a counselor.  Now, five decades later, he says the years have flown by.

"I was never counting. I have a little saying in my desk drawer here that says if you enjoy what you do, you’ll never go to work a day in your life. And I enjoy what I do. I enjoy having an impact on kids," he said.

One thing he enjoys most about his work is working with international students, over 700 of them to be exact.

"There's students here from Ecuador and Mexico, some Italy and South Korea," said Mr. Dykstra, as he showed us pictures hanging in his office of his student.

"Ee just appreciate what you’ve done for us to make our stay here so rewarding. Making our stay here *pats heart* I love looking at these kids and remembering all the experiences with them," Mr. Dysktra said as he reads a signed frame from international students.

After all these years, Mr. Dykstra says he just hopes he was able to do one thing.

"That I made a difference. That I made lives more positive," Mr. Dykstra said. "I try to find some way to cheer every kid on that comes into this office and I think generally they feel that they feel they’ve been cheered on as they leave."

As far as retiring goes.

"I’m gonna work this year. I don’t know what next year brings. And that’s the fun part of it," he said.

We’ve done research and it looks like Mr. Dykstra might be the longest running teacher in Michigan to not retire at the same school.