Quincy News

It's been a good life for Mike Terry, but don't expect any retirement announcement in the near future

Mike Terry was the first full-time instructor hired at John Wood Community College, and hes still there, enjoying every minute of what he does. His classes are among the most popular at JWCC, often overflowing. He is also the Quincy High School tennis coach. | H-W Photo/Michael Kipley
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Nov. 24, 2015 12:01 am Updated: Nov. 24, 2015 11:25 pm


Mike Terry has reached an age when most people are at least beginning to consider the possibilities of stepping back, maybe even retiring.

In Terry's case, however, it's probably safe to say that's the furthest thing from his mind.

"Over the last four or five years, I have enjoyed teaching so much," he said. "I'm not looking to retire anytime soon."

Now 63, Terry is co-chairman of the John Wood Community College Language, Humanities and Fine Arts Department. He was the first full-time instructor hired by the college almost 30 years ago and has enjoyed being a part of the JWCC evolution ever since.

The continued growth of the college, from its former location in the old Lincoln School at 48th and Maine to its present site, the sprawling campus at 48th and Harrison, has helped fuel Terry's passion.

So has being around a student population that continues to grow in its diversity. Over the years, Terry has seen a student body that was once mostly filled with post-high school students from the immediate Quincy area transition into an educational community that now includes students of all ages and from different regions of the globe.

"We have kids from small schools within our district, and we have kids from Africa and Australia," Terry said. "It's an exciting mix."

That kind of mix and campuswide buzz helps keep Terry young at heart.

The kind of excitement and spirit that oozes from Terry is evident within -- and on -- the walls of his second-floor office inside JWCC's Student Administrative Center.

Terry's office is not cluttered with volumes of ancient literature or the impressionist work of Monet; it is cluttered with artwork of his favorite musicians and sports teams. Terry is heavily influenced by classic rock and also enjoys jazz. And he's a huge fan of the St. Louis Cardinals.

"I've always loved Led Zeppelin and Rod Stewart," he said. "I still remember where I was the first time I heard (Stewart's signature piece) 'Maggie May.' "

Terry has always connected well with his students. His communication courses -- speech, rhetoric, composition -- are normally filled to capacity.

"I love teaching those courses and trying to make them interesting," he said.

The fact those subjects come naturally to Terry should come as no surprise. He's the son of Gene Terry, the former longtime news director at KHQA-TV.

"My dad interviewed five presidents, including John F. Kennedy," Terry said. "Because of him, I grew up in the KHQA newsroom and was around guys from the media all the time.

"I felt at a young age I wanted to work in the media but wound up (teaching) English."

Terry taught English and coached varsity tennis at Quincy High School before being asked to join the JWCC faculty. He also coached ninth-grade boys basketball.

Terry's interest in athletics in general and coaching in particular runs as deep as his passion for teaching.

"We didn't have sports (at JWCC) back in the early days," he said. "Things really changed when athletics were added. It gave the college more of a traditional feel."

Terry has coached QHS boys tennis since 1994 and the QHS girls team since 1997. His teams have won a combined 520 matches.

Being able to continue coaching high school athletes while teaching at the postsecondary level was an important part of Terry's personal equation. It permitted him to work, in a fulfilling way, with two different age groups of young people.

"A lot of John Wood students, since they are freshmen and sophomores, are still searching for majors. ... I feel I can help (mold) them. The most gratifying part of my job is being around students and finding a way to be relevant to their lives," he said. "Plus, I also wanted to keep coaching."

He will readily admit it has been a good life.

"For me, it has been a perfect mix," Terry said.

And there are no signs it will be ending soon.

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