Middle school years can be tough times for students. One Simle Middle School guidance counselor says that critical age is what’s kept him coming back fall after fall, for 30 years.

Here at KX News we’re proud of North Dakota, that’s why we’re bringing you the story of an educator who’s influenced thousands of young student’s lives, by caring about their future.

After 30 years mentoring the youth of North Dakota, Simle Guidance Counselor Wayne Jundt plans to retire.

Simle Principal Russ Riehl says, “People like Mr. Jundt don’t come along everyday. We appreciate the work he’s done. We’re going to miss seeing him around here.”

During his career as a school counselor, there has rarely been a dull moment.

Jundt adds, “People say ‘Well what happens to you and with you during the school day as a school counselor?’ And I tell them, ‘You know, most days I don’t have to plan anything because you never know what’s going to come through the door.'”

But the counseling field has changed a lot over the course of 30 years.

Mr. Jundt says when he started in 1988, educators weren’t trained to address day-to-day mental health issues in schools.

With increasingly busy family lifestyles and the advent of social media, Jundt says, “There’s an obvious learning curve that a professional school counselor needs to stay connected with.”

School faculty have adopted a more proactive, solutions-focused approach, which can be as simple as checking in with students daily. 

Jundt explains, “At this developmental level, even the smallest thing can seem like a crisis.”

And middle schoolers are still impressionable.

Jundt says “They’re still open to the kind of nuturing support that educators can give them, and I know for them, it’s only temporary. These few years, as difficult as they are and they can be, they will grow through them; they will grow beyond them.”

There is one constant through the years: Mr. Jundt still loves working with the kids.

He adds, “I am so amused by some of the middle school behaviors. I have to laugh out loud sometimes, only because I know that this is just a passage they have to make, and that things will get better for them.”

Simle Middle School will miss him come May.

Principal Riehl says, “It’s people first and it’s always positive. He’s always able to help get you to positive.”

Starting Memorial Day, Mr. Jundt will be enjoying his retirement with family. He says he plans to continue to have a professional role in education, part-time.