KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Inside the halls and walls of Loy Norrix High School in Kalamazoo, the Duckett name is everywhere.
Engraved in trophies and next to track and field records are those of TJ and Tico Duckett, football stars who went on to play in college and the NFL.
But perhaps the most well-known Duckett at Loy Norrix is the one who raised the boys, the one who’s been at the school the longest: gym teacher and track coach Ted Duckett.
“He taught my uncle and mom my and he taught my auntie,” current student Jermaine McClellan said.
“I feel like he’s older than the school,” fellow student Tatyahnna Scott joked.
Honest, straight-forward and tough, Duckett is an old-fashioned motivator.
Next month, he will have been teaching and coaching at Loy Norrix for a remarkable 50 years.
“It’s gotten to be home away from home,” Duckett, who has also taught U.S. history and coached the football and basketball teams, told 24 Hour News 8 Tuesday.
He started in 1969 as an intern, recalling with bell-bottoms and an afro. He remembers a vastly different time when the majority of Loy Norrix’s students were white.
“I was — to most of these kids — the introduction to the real world,” he said.
Over the past five decades, much in the world has changed. Duckett’s motivation has stayed the same. It not about counting the years, he said, but rather about impacting lives.
“I have three legitimate kids,” Duckett said. “(But) I have hundreds of kids who called me ‘Dad.'”
About 20 years ago, Duckett was diagnosed with a major heart problem. All these years later, somehow, he’s still here, still teaching and still coaching.
“God’s not ready for me yet. When he is, I won’t be here one second longer,” Duckett said. “I’ve been granted time that I should not have had. So I don’t want to waste it.”
24 Hour News 8 asked Duckett if the students needed him.
“I think I need them,” he replied, smiling.
Duckett said that every summer when the school year is over, his sits in his yard and re-evaluates his future. He said if he has the energy and can do it, he will teach and coach again next school year.