MERRITT ISLAND, Fla. — Students rush to get to coach Joseph Hutten, Jr.'s physical education class at Lewis Carroll Elementary School in Merritt Island.
What You Need To Know
- Coach Joseph Hutten, Jr. has been a teacher for 42 years, but he's hanging up his whistle for good to retire
- He teaches physical education at Lewis Carroll Elementary School in Merritt Island
- Hutton has touched the lives of countless students over the years while teaching, coaching and officiating sports
- Here's how you can nominate an A+ Teacher
The A+ teacher says he has had a wonderful career and adds that it has been a great ride. He says it's not really a job.
"I’m lucky. I start the day off with a hug,” Hutten says. “That's not work."
He loves seeing former students and remembers a recent encounter while officiating a high school sporting event.
"I can remember them when they were just little growing up, and here they are varsity baseball players,” Hutten says. “They're growing into men, you know, and it's just really, really a special feeling when you get to see that."
Whether it's jumping rope or a good competitive game of kickball, students stay active in Hutten's class.
"As long as they're moving — raising that heart rate — we’re doing something right,” he says. “It's so hard to get exercise anymore. The kids nowadays have so many distractions, whether it's their phone, the computer."
Hutten remembers the very moment he was inspired to become a teacher.
"When I was in high school, I had a really cool P.E. teacher, and I said, 'Man this is what I want to do’,” Hutten says. “I went off to college, and the more classes I took, the more enjoyable it seemed, and I have been doing this every year since and this is year 42."
But there won't be a year 43.
"It's been a great ride,” Hutten says. “I wish I could continue, but it's time. The pasture is calling, so to speak."
As he prepares to hang up his whistle for good, he is reflecting on special moments, like bumping into a former high school student he taught.
"He comes up to me and he says, 'Coach I want to thank you’," Hutten says.
He gets emotional and adds, "See, now I'm getting verklempt."
He said his former student shared with him, “ 'My parents said I'm never going to amount to anything. I won't be able to do this or that, but you always told me that I can do anything that I want if I tried.'
"And he's got his own business now, and he's happy. He's got a family of his own."
Of all his students, there is one he misses at school already.
"But I will miss Noah,” Hutten says. “That's going to be a bummer. My grandson goes here, and he's going to be in sixth grade next year."
Hutten says he hopes to drop by the school and have lunch with his grandson.
He will stay busy, though. Hutten says his wife has a "to do" list waiting for him at home.