FHC says goodbye to David Mills


Alexandra VanElls, Staff Writer

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.”