By Burlon Wilkerson
“I can’t think of anything else I would rather have done over the last 30 years,” Terry Johnson said when discussing his upcoming retirement in a recent interview. “Diboll has been good to me, and I have enjoyed my time here.”
“Coach” Johnson, as he is usually called, plans to retire at the end of the school year. He has coached and taught American History at Diboll High School since 1990.
Johnson’s family moved to Lufkin from Floydada in West Texas when he was 6 years old. He graduated from Lufkin High School and attended Angelina College where he played baseball before receiving his degree in Kinesiology from Sam Houston State University. He said history was always interesting to him, so he chose that as his minor.
“I try to concentrate on why students need to appreciate history,” he said. “I get them talking about their families and realizing that is a form of history. This helps them make connections to things they know about and makes history more real for them.”
Before coming to Diboll, Johnson was at Dekalb High School for several years where he taught Government and Economics. Prior to that he taught one year at Central High School and did construction and offshore work for a while.
Johnson has demonstrated his belief in the importance of family connections by his own behavior.
“I’ve turned down several coaching jobs in order to keep my children here so they would be around their grandparents,” he said. “I wanted them to have that experience.”
Johnson and his wife, Manonne, have four children, one of whom is deceased. Samantha is in her last year of law school. Chance graduated from East Texas Baptist University and has been substituting and helping coach at Diboll this year and will coach at Livingston next school year. Seth will graduate high school this month and major in law enforcement at Sam Houston State University.
When asked about unique experiences in teaching, Johnson said he couldn’t immediately think of anything in particular.
“You change kids every year, but they’re still the same,” he replied. “However, I will say that they won’t take discipline from you unless they know you love them.”
Use of technology is the biggest change Johnson has seen in education.
“Everybody in the classroom can now access the Internet,” he said. “I can ask students a question and tell them to find the answer, and they can look it up on their phone.”
Johnson said he tells aspiring teachers and coaches that there’s a lot more to it than what one is taught in college. There are many hours and much effort involved other than just the classroom time.
He would advise a person to never shirk a job.
“Do every job the best you can and give it a little more than you have to,” he said.
Retirement will coincide with the high school graduation of Johnson’s youngest son. He said he had indicated to his wife when he started that he would stop when he reached 30 years.
However, that doesn’t mean that Johnson will stop working. He has worked in construction with his father-in-law during past summers and plans to continue that practice this summer.
“We’ll see where it leads,” he said. “I know that the Lord will open doors, and I’ll try to walk through them.”