SHERIDAN — Tongue River High School family and consumer science teacher Pat Mischke will retire at the end of this school year.
Mischke, who has been a part of Sheridan County School District 1 since 1996, was recently named the district’s Teacher of the Year.
In addition to her classroom offerings she has been the leader of the school’s Family, Career and Community Leaders of America club, conducts outside catering with her students by her side and has started Bistro Under the Bighorns — a full service dinner restaurant operated by her students out of the school once a month — and a weekly lunch restaurant currently operating under the name The Prancing Pony.
“Someone who has been as involved as she has been, because she is not just in her classroom and she doesn’t work just 8-4 but she is here before school, after school, on the weekends always working with the kids, that is what is going to make her so hard to replace,” TRHS guidance counselor Pete Kilbride said.
Mischke’s husband, Warren Mischke, retired from his position as information and education specialist for the Sheridan Region Game and Fish Department last fall and Pat Mischke will join him this summer, though some commitments will continue to linger for her.
She has a summer trip planned with her FCCLA students who recently placed at the state competition and will travel to compete at nationals and also has some catering plans already in the works.
“It’ll be kind of hard to keep her away, but she will technically be done at the end of the year,” TRHS principal Mark Fritz said.
Fritz also noted it will be hard to replace her, not only because of her dedication to the students and the school but also because of a shortage of qualified teachers in her field.
“A lot of schools don’t even have the Family and Consumer Science program anymore,” he said. “It’s a program that through budget cuts has gone away; so when there are not a lot of jobs out there, teachers go into something else, so the talent pool is small.”
Though other schools may be cutting the program, Fritz has every intention to keep it alive at TRHS.
“Our FCCLA and her program have been some of our top programs and an attention builder at our school and we have no intention of not retaining it,” he said. “It’s pretty fresh news that she’s leaving but we will get the search going for her replacement soon.”
Fritz described Mischke as a “go-getter” and Kilbride said the best description of her would be “selfless,” but the most common thought shared is that her students are really going to miss her.
“She has such a great rapport with the kids and they just love working with her,” Fritz said. “Her classrooms are always full and she will bend over backward for the kids and do anything she needs to do to be successful. The kids are going to miss her a lot.”
The district will hold an awards ceremony at Sheridan College on May 29 at 6 p.m. and Mischke will be honored for her Teacher of the Year award at this time.