A Mississippi Elementary teacher with over three-dozen years under his belt is retiring.

Physical education teacher Kevin Nystedt, who worked at the Coon Rapids school for 35 years and has been a teacher for 38, ran the track and field day for the last time May 14 and 15.

“I love working with the kids,” Nystedt said. “I love sports and athletics, and I love to have the opportunity to help direct the children in the way that they should go.”

Before events kicked off the morning of May 14, the school unveiled a sign naming the track that he originally installed after Nystedt.

Growing up in Minnetonka Nystedt looked up to his track coach and physical education teacher, ultimately deciding to follow in his footsteps.

Nystedt went to Morehead State University for physical education, later graduating from the University of Minnesota with a degree in adaptive physical education and earning his license to be a K-12 principal.

Ultimately he decided to remain a physical education teacher.

“I chose to stay in physical education so I could stay with the kids,” Nystedt said.

After graduating Nystedt’s first job was in Minnetonka. He was hired by Mississippi Elementary in 1984.

The next year, Nystedt met Mary, then a student teacher, and they married soon after.

His biggest piece of advice for new teachers was to develop relationships with the kids and be a positive influence.

“I would just say ... always encourage, encourage and encourage and everything else will come, fall in place,” Nystedt said.

What comes next for Nystedt is mostly spending time with his family, including his two – soon to be three – grandkids.

Nystedt has a reputation for his two-day track and field event, which starts with kindergartners through third-graders in a light-hearted competition of events including three-legged races, jumping rope and gunny sack races.

The second day is fourth- and fifth-grade students in a more serious competition made up of traditional track events.

Part of Nystedt’s legacy is the track field he helped create. He was one of four teachers who originally would draw the lines of the track each year before the track and field event.

Eventually he decided to dig out a narrow track with the help of volunteers and equipment from the Anoka-Hennepin School District.

Later, when the district added tracks to all of the schools, the track at Mississippi was expanded to what it is today.

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