FHC says goodbye to David Mills

Alexandra VanElls, Staff Writer

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David Mills has been teaching and coaching at FHC for 29 years. After these many years of teaching, however, Mills has decided that this year will be his last year teaching at FHC. Those that are close to him have said that the school will not be the same without him because they feel he is a legend at FHC.

“Selfishly, I don’t want him to retire,” physical education teacher Stacy Steensma said. “I’ve always taught with Mr. Mills and he’s such a good man. I look up to him so much as a person. He’s just so kind and so giving; he’s just always there for me and for the students.”

Despite the fact that Steensma and others feel this way about his retirement, Mills and his friends know that he has thought long and hard about this life-changing decision.

“I feel like it’s time,” Mills said. “I’ve taught 31 years, and [I’m] still young enough to do things and travel, so it seems like the time is right.”

Those close to him have nothing but good things to say about Mills and how much they will miss him when he leaves.

“Coach is energetic, passionate, and just an all around great guy,” history teacher Brad Anderson said. “He makes an impact on everyone he meets. Over the last almost thirty years, students have gotten to have the ‘Mills experience.’ I am sad that future students will not get to know him. I am sad that our staff will lose an incredible advocate and educator. Yes, FHC will not be the same when he retires. He’s a legend.”

Counselor Rick Bolhuis met Mills at a wrestling tournament and has known him for twenty years. Bolhuis was coached by Mills for years when he eventually followed in Mills’ footsteps to coaching and later at FHC.

“He was amazing at mentoring me as a young coach and even now,” Bolhuis said. “Additionally, he encouraged me to apply for my job here at FHC. It may sound cliche, but there is no way I’d be who I am or where I am without him. [He has] unwavering support for and belief in those under his care. You can really be doubting yourself, talk with him, and leave with so much hope and confidence. ”

Mills loves the daily contact with students and the work he does at FHC. He will miss being at the school and seeing daily improvement from students, such as in his weight lifting classes.

“I think [coaching and teaching] really go hand-in-hand,” Mills said. “I believe it did help when I was coaching here as the Varsity coach to be teaching here because you have daily contact with students, and you can encourage other students to join wrestling, or football, or cross country. I just love the students. They are great, and I really enjoy teaching physical education. It’s nice to see kids being active [and] learning through movement. We call it watching kids learn and grow while they are doing an activity.”

Though Mills enjoys teaching and coaching, he is ready to move on with his life and spend more time with his family.

“I want to watch [my son], Matt, wrestle,” Mills said. “He’s all the way out in Stanford, and I’ve [also] got another son in Washington D.C. I hope to spend more time with family. I hope to get some more hunting and fishing time.”

Since Mills has taught in the same building with his wife and son for some time, it will be an adjustment for them to not be in the same building–but not as much as one might think. Mills has enjoyed being a part of FHC along with the rest of his family.

“It’s great that we are all a part of the Forest Hills family,” Mills said. “But during the day, some days I don’t see them at all, and some days I see them a couple of times. They are at one end of the building, and I’m down [in the gym]. It has been nice to be able to teach with my son and wife and give back to Forest Hills.”

Overall, many can say that it will be hard to see Mills go, because he has been a part of the Forest Hills family for so long. Steensma, who has always taught with Mills, will have an especially hard time without her “work husband,” but she is also happy for him.

“I don’t think it will ever be the same without Mr. Mills,” Steensma said. “I’m a little nervous [about who will take over for him]. I’m sure whoever we do have come in will do a great job; I can’t imagine someone being any better than Mr. Mills. He’s a legend around here.”

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8 Comments

8 Responses to “FHC says goodbye to David Mills”

  1. Brian Swiatowy on May 21st, 2017 11:44 am

    I remember when Coach Mills began his tenure at FHC … and his impact on not only the wrestling program but also the football program was tremendous. Congratulations on your successful and impactful time at FHC, Coach Mills. Enjoy your *you* time. You have definitely earned it.

    Brian Swiatowy
    FHC Class of ’93

    [Reply]

    Cathy green Reply:

    I’m happy to hear that Dave has reached the point in his life to enjoy the fruits of his labor. Great man and a giver to the community–good luck Dave!

    Cathy Green

    [Reply]

  2. Brad Turner on May 21st, 2017 12:11 pm

    Mr Mills is a terrific man ! I had Mr. Mills for many classes he was the best…. Kind, fun , tough but always approachable and compassionate. Cheers to you Mr. Mills best to you in whatever you decide to do. I truly appreciate the guidance and lessons i learned from you!

    [Reply]

  3. Janice Briggs on May 21st, 2017 3:14 pm

    Very nice write up David. Congratulations on your dedication and great leadership for all these
    years! 31 YEARS IS A LONG TIME!!!!! Also, congratulations on your decision (which I’m sure was so hard) to be present with family and travel while you are young enough to enjoy it.
    GOD BLESS YOUR NEXT CHAPTER, DAVID ❣
    Our love to you. Cousins, Jack & Janice Briggs

    [Reply]

  4. Tim McGee on May 21st, 2017 10:30 pm

    Dave,
    Congratulations on a great career! You are a man of integrity: an awesome son, husband, father, friend, teacher, mentor, and coach. In addition, your giving attitude driven by an unequalled work ethic and mental and physical toughness have made you admired and appreciated by nearly everyone who knows you. I feel lucky to have worked with you and to call you a friend. Best wishes in your retirement from FHC. I know that you will find new challenges and new people to help in your retirement. Thank you for the positive influence that you had on my sons and me.
    Tim McGee

    [Reply]

  5. Paula Voss on May 22nd, 2017 2:26 pm

    Dave: Congratulations on your retirement and best wishes on this new phase of life. You will be greatly missed at FHC. I would never have made it through 9th & 10th grade, if I didn’t have you to help get Joe & Pat to school on 2 hr delays or early dismissals. THANK YOU!! You have also served as a great role model to them. All the best to you and your family!! 🙂

    [Reply]

  6. Jim Hornaj on May 22nd, 2017 9:27 pm

    Congrats on a great career Dave. You have made your parents very proud.!your brothers too and pretty much everyone you know. I’m glad I am one of these.

    [Reply]

  7. Brice on May 23rd, 2017 12:23 am

    Mr. Mills, what an honor it has been to have been taught by you. Your classes were the ones I looked forward to the most. I am so grateful I had a chance to be part of your history at FHC and I greatly appreciate the lessons I learned, from Such a terrific gentleman like yourself. Thank you for being there for the youngsters at FHC, and thank you for being a role model, friend, teacher and coach for guys like myself to look up too and idealize in a world that is lacking those type of people. God bless you and your wonderful family. Enjoy your time off and getting some Mills time in.

    [Reply]

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