The Saratoga Sun -

By Mike Dunn 

Teachers say farewell


Several Carbon County School District No. 2 teachers are retiring this year. The following is a look at those retiring from Saratoga schools.

Jack Patrick

Whether it’s teaching the use of complex human emotion in Shakespeare’s writing, or the proper use of a semicolon, Jack Patrick has spent the past 41 years teaching the English language to students.

Patrick began his teaching career after graduating from Dickinson State Teacher’s College (now Dickinson State University) at the age of 20. Patrick said he knew he was going to become a teacher after he was inspired by his high school teacher and a college professor.

After teaching in North Dakota for two years, Patrick moved to Carbon County; teaching in Hanna and Saratoga Middle School. He has been at Saratoga High School for 35 years.

Patrick has also worked on several state committees, including state-wide curriculum development committees and worked on the PAWS test at the district level.

Patrick’s reason for retiring is very straightforward: 41 years of teaching is a very long time.

“It is just time,” he said. “It gives someone else an opportunity. The kids need someone else in here, and it’s time for someone else to come in here and make some changes and such.”

Throughout his years of teaching, Patrick will miss interacting with the students the most. He said he will not only miss teaching, but he will also miss learning from the students themselves. Patrick said the students have helped him stay updated on current on music, literature, music and TV shows.

“I don’t know what will happen next year. I might have to come in the building next year to get caught up on that stuff,” Patrick said.

One of his proudest achievements over his 41-year career is being able to teach a student who has ended up in almost every profession. He said he’s taught students who have became everything from doctors to police officers.

When he retires, Patrick plans to stay in Saratoga, but wants to do some traveling to see relatives in North Dakota and Alabama. He also plans to do lots of reading and catch up on movies he’s been waiting to watch.

Linda Fisher-Perue

For the past 21 years, CCSD#2 students have learned the art of cooking, family consumer science and visual arts from Linda Fisher-Perue.

Fisher-Perue also worked with FCCLA and ProStart over the years. She is a veteran of 12 different national FCCLA trips throughout her teaching years.

The students are going to be the part she misses most about teaching. She said Saratoga students are generally a quality group of kids.

“The kids here are genuinely nice kids to teach,” Fisher-Perue said.

With the busy end of the year events, retiring had not sunk in for Fisher-Perue yet. But when she finally takes out the last crate of school items from her classroom, retirement will finally set in for her. However, that might take a while for a person who has been teaching as long as she has.

“I have 21 years of saving stuff, and you hate to throw it away because you might need it.”

Over the years, Fisher-Perue said the biggest change in teaching has been the technology. She said it has some benefits, but for an “old school” person such as herself, some of the technology has been difficult for her.

One of the things Fisher-Perue hopes students take from her is how to eat healthier. With the amount of processed foods out there, she believes learning how to cook your own food is more important now than ever.

Fisher-Perue said family was the primary reason behind her retirement and would like to spend more time with her mother in Nebraska. She also wants to finish some artwork that she “began 21 years ago, and never finished.”

She also plans to stay in Saratoga and possibly substitute teach when she can.

Sherry MacKay

This year, CCSD#2 will lose a teacher who has spent her entire career in the district.

Twenty-three years ago, Sherry MacKay began her teaching career at a country school in northern Carbon County. She taught kindergarten through grade 12 in the middle of a hay field near the Sherley Rim for four years. MacKay said some of her greatest memories of teaching come from the country school.

“They had a hard time keeping teachers out there because it is 60 miles from nowhere,” she said. “It wasn’t a big deal to me, I grew up there.”

MacKay then taught first grade in Saratoga for one year, then went back to Hanna to teach fifth and first grades. She finally made her way back to Saratoga to teach fifth and fourth grade.

“The first nine or 10 years I taught, I taught a different grade [each year],” she said.

She said working with kids is going to be the aspect of teaching she misses the most.

“When you’re sitting in the classroom and working with kids, that is what I will miss,” MacKay said.

She said even though as education is constantly changing with testing and new techniques, MacKay has never strayed away from her teaching styles. As a archeologist and self-described “storyteller”, she said she has always taught to her strengths and incorporates curriculum into her own styles.

At a CCSD#2 board of trustees meeting, Saratoga Elementary Principal Dave Rangitsch said no matter how early he arrived at school, MacKay was always there before him working in her classroom.

“She is also an early bird. Every morning, I would come to school at 7 or 7:15, and Sherry is already there doing extra things,” he said.

When she retires, she plans on traveling. MacKay will be sailing up the coast of British Columbia, Canada with a friend this summer, and will also be heading to Milwaukee to attend a clock show.

She says she also wants to restore paintings as well.

Nancy Vargas

At the April 21 CCSD#2 board of trustees meeting, Nancy Vargas was recognized for more than 20 years working with students at Saratoga.

The special education teacher has been involved with many activities in the school district, Saratoga High School principal Larry Uhling said, adding “there isn’t much she hasn’t done since she’s been here.”

“Most importantly, she does her job. Our kids just end up with having somebody they admire, they trust and they love,” Uhling said.

Uhling said he’s seen students go into Vargas’s classroom who are struggling academically, and graduate on time.

“She is just a great ally to have, and we are sad to see her go,” Uhling said.


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