On Aug. 20, Esslinger was presented with a plaque commemorating his service to the Scottsboro City School System. Earlier this year, Coach John Esslinger announced that he would not be seeking reelection as the representative for Place 5 on the Scottsboro Board of Education.
Esslinger retired from teaching in 2012 after 35 years in the Scottsboro School System.
“In life we anticipate many moments and the joy that they bring, and there are other moments that we hope will never come due to the sadness they bring. In this afternoon I find myself in a moment that is both of these things,” stated Dr. Jose Reyes, superintendent of the Scottsboro City School System, when introducing the award given to Esslinger. “There is joy in that I have had the opportunity to serve beside one of the finest men that I have ever known and there is sadness that at the conclusion of this meeting that one of the finest men I have ever known will no longer flank me to my right.”
“You do not replace a man of the stature of John Esslinger,” continued Reyes. “To do so would fall completely short and quite frankly it’s too much to ask of anyone.”
Esslinger has been a staple of the Scottsboro City School System and had taught or coached many of his colleagues on the board.
“A lot of people think it was easy for teachers, it wasn’t” said Esslinger in a speech he gave after accepting the award and talking about the experience of teachers during the last year. He also mentioned his respect for the members of the board of education and those working in administrative rolls in the school system.
“The things that I always admired about you was your dedication,” said Julie Gentry a member of the school board.”
In 2010, Esslinger was inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame for his years of coaching track in Scottsboro. His record as a high school track coach is nothing short of phenomenal. In his time coaching he won 25 state championships and 16 state titles.
“We don’t agree on everything,” said Esslinger in his speech, “but, that’s what makes it important that we’re able to get stuff done and we still have disagreements. We’re able to move forward as a group and get stuff done. Especially when it’s vital to our teachers and our students.”
“We are public servants and the word servant means that we are working for everybody that are in this community,” remarked Esslinger about the importance of the school board going on to add, “we can’t always give everything they want but we do have to try to get everything they need and if they need something and don’t want it then we have to try to get it to them anyway and that’s the hard part of this job.”
The meeting ended with the members of the school board each discussing how they would miss Esslinger’s presence on the board.
Ranging from how his prayers that began their meetings were always topical and meaningful, to how his humor always seemed to appropriately break the silence.
Esslinger’s replacement on the Board of Education, Patrick Woosley, will be sworn in on Sept. 3.