Retirees honored


As we close out the school year, we say farewell to several staff members who are leaving the district for new opportunities and five staff members entering the next phase of life—retirement. Our retirees—Travis Johnson, Dan Hutchings, Sara Anderson, Carol Budde and Denise Esparza—have over 120 combined years of service to the Coal City School District. 


“Two things I will miss the most, the people I work with and I will miss the work that we do everyday with the people that we love and the kids that we love and the difference that we make every single day with the kids. That is what I will miss,” Johnson told district staff on the final day of the school year. 


Johnson and his family moved to Coal City 18 years ago when he assumed the role of principal at Coal City Elementary School. Johnson served in that role from 2006 to 2013. He then transferred to the principal’s position at Coal City Middle School from where he retires. 


“I leave here with a full heart, my cup runneth over, I will miss you and Godspeed,” Johnson concluded.


After a few years as a teacher and coach in area school districts, Dan Hutchings returned to teach and coach at his alma mater in 1995.  During his tenure at Coal City High School, Hutchings has taught science, health and drivers education, and coached basketball and football. He served as the head football coach from 2017-2021. Since 2003, he has served as athletic director and has also held the positions of dean of student and district transportation director. 


Sara Anderson joined the faculty in 1994 as an eighth grade computer instructor at Coal City Middle School. In 2002, she moved to the high school where she taught multiple computer and business courses including Introduction of Business, Microsoft Office, Business Law, Personal Finance and College and Career Exploration among others.  Anderson has also served as a freshman class and student council sponsor since 2008. She has been a constant at school activities and events having attended 15 homecoming dances and assisted in the implementation of an annual homecoming parade. 


Carol Budde has supported school district operations for 27 years. During that time she has served as an elementary school lunchroom and recess aide, middle school secretary, buildings and grounds secretary, assistant secretary at the early childhood center and most recently as the assistant secretary and health aide at the intermediate school. Additionally, she served several years as a substitute caller for the district.  Budde was also involved for several years with the Parent School Organization [PSO] serving in the roles of president and vice president and was a founding member of the Unit 1 Educational Foundation. 


Budde also shared with district staff that she too departs the district with a full heart and wonderful memories.


Denise Esparza retires from the district with  24 years of service as a member of the custodial staff. He began as a substitute in 1999 and a year later joined the elementary school staff. She has since worked at the high school, middle school and intermediate school. After several years at the intermediate school, Esparza returned to the high school this spring to finish out the school year and her tenure with the district. 


The Coal City School District is grateful for their dedicated service to the students, staff and school community and wish them all the best in the years to come.