June 18, 2020
By David Nordby
The Brillion News
Coached Panthers to state in 2000
REEDSVILLE – Kris Hanson knew when she was young what two of her lifetime passions would be – art and sports.
She combined those two into a memorable art teaching and coaching career for the Reedsville School District for 33 years until her retirement this spring.
Hanson grew up on a farm in Eleva, Wis. and attended Eleva-Strum Central High School near Eau Claire. There, she was active in sports, band and art.
“There was an art teacher there that I spent a lot of time with. She inspired me,” Hanson said. “When I left high school, that’s when I knew I wanted to be an art teacher.”
While still in high school, she and her husband, Darrel, had the first of their three sons – delivered on her junior prom night.
“It was a little glitch, we’ll just call it, but it all turned out fantastic,” Hanson said.
After high school she attended UW-Eau Claire, lived in Minnesota and Western Wisconsin, and eventually finished her schooling at UW-Green Bay and received her K-12 certification.
By 1987, after coaching volleyball in Blair, and student teaching and coaching in Denmark, she landed her first full-time teaching job in Reedsville. She never left.
She was hired in spring to start in the fall of 1987. Back then, Reedsville had more students.
“It reminded me a lot of the school I grew up in,” Hanson said.
At Denmark, she had met multiple Reedsville teachers, including former Reedsville Athletic Director Al Peters.
It made for an easier transition. Hanson became the volleyball coach and also joined the track coaching staff as an assistant, another role she has kept until now, working closely with Christine Shimek, who also retired this year.
“The people that I worked with kept me (in Reedsville), and the kids are fantastic. The whole ball of wax. Did I ever expect to stay there? Initially, no, I don’t think so, but by year three, I had become the head coach for volleyball and that was one of those personal goals,” Hanson said.
Best of both worlds
Hanson kept in touch with her high school art teacher, who knew how big of an inspiration she was for Hanson.
She is still passionate when she speaks about teaching.
“When you get to see kids get that “a-ha moment,” Hanson said. “They’re so amazed at their results. Being able to see that is fantastic.”
Some students she saw for 12 years when she taught K-12.
“I was very blessed to have exceptional kids that came through there,” Hanson said. “I had some very talented, young people come through there and to see their abilities change and increase to the point that they’re like, ‘Oh, this is so cool’ or ‘I can’t believe I did all this.’”
She says that teaching art never grew tiresome for her.
“It was always (teaching) to different kids, so it never got old because there were always those students that were so impressed and you could see the light go on in their eyes,” Hanson said.
Please see the complete story, with insights into her volleyball coaching career, in the June 18, 2020 edition of The Brillion News.