Sad Goodbyes, Happy Hellos

“Where are all my children?”

This year we say goodbye to two teachers that have been a part of the Slippery Rock family for years, but we also welcome two new teachers. Sadly, this is Mr. Fritsche’s and Mrs. Timko’s last year being a part of the Slippery Rock family. Even though we are saying goodbye to two teachers, we are also saying hello to two of them as well. Mr. Gaul came halfway through the year to take over Mr. Miller’s history teaching position, and Mrs. Mitcheltree came up from Moraine Elementary School.

Sad Goodbyes

Mr. Fritsche

Mr. Fritsche has been teaching for 24 years, and 22 of them were spent here in Slippery Rock. Although he is sad about leaving after being here for so long, Mr. Fritsche said, “I will enjoy watching the winter storm warnings up north as I sit poolside at el Rancho Fritsche in South Carolina and the thrill of actually having the time to finish a project around the house.” Before Mr. Fritsche worked here, he worked a bunch of odd jobs such as working in sales, in the restaurant business, window washing, and other jobs he can’t remember. Fritsche also worked as a newspaper reporter and wrote copies for radio ads. “At the high school, I brought my love of journalism to develop the newspaper program, a video production class where students produced a daily announcement show,” Fritsche said. One thing about Mr. Fritsche that no one will forget is his “Fritscheisms.” Fritsche said, “I have always been one of the loudest, most visible people in the room; try as I may, I’ve never been able to fly under the radar. Those sayings, which a lot of students and faculty call Fritscheisms, just come to me – inspired in part by former Pittsburgh Penguin broadcaster Mike Lange’s hockey sayings. Some of my favorites are when we get paid, I always say ‘We’re eatin’ tonight, Alice!’ When someone asks me something personal, I say ‘What are you, a cop?’ And of course, on Fridays, I always tell my upperclassmen to ‘Be careful in the hotrod!’” Fritsche said that he will never forget the memory when “One of our star basketball players used to drink the milk for my coffee all the time during newspaper class. Once, my refrigerator quit working and the milk turned into a gross cottage cheese-like substance. When the students were working on stories at their desks, she snuck into the back to drink my milk. We all watched as she took a big drink, and immediately spewed out the coddled milk all over the back wall. It was pretty funny and nobody who witnessed it has ever forgotten the look on her face.“ Being a teacher, one thing Mr. Fritsche will miss the most is when he witnesses the exact moment when a student finally understands what he is teaching them – when he can see the lightbulb go off in their head. After having Mr. Fritsche as a familiar face around Slippery Rock High School, he will be greatly missed by everyone.

Lifetouch National School Studios Inc.

Mrs. Timko

Mrs. Timko has been a familiar face to all students and staff throughout their high school careers. As a beloved school nurse, Timko has the responsibility of recognizing the rights and wrongs of all within the building, and she will be greatly missed. Mrs. Timko previously worked at a hospital before coming to work for the high school. “When you’re a school nurse, you’re on your own. You don’t have a bunch of other nurses or doctors to ask questions, you’re really out there on your own,” she says. “When you’re working in a hospital, you’re dealing with people who are sick. For the most part, this population is a healthy population.” Timko is looking forward to the time she will be able to spend doing things she enjoys such as sewing, gardening, and traveling to see her grandson. She’s also excited about the fact that she will be able to sleep past five-thirty. Retirement’s biggest feat, though, has to be the lives you leave behind. Mrs. Timko says, “My fellow teachers and nurses are the ones I will miss the most. I will keep in touch with people but it’s not the same as when you get to see them almost every day and get a chance to work with them.” It’s safe to say that Mrs. Timko will be greatly missed by all here at Slippery Rock Area High School as she departs into her years of retirement.

Happy Hellos

Mr. Gaul

Mr. Gaul, one of Slippery Rock Area High School’s newest teachers has had a rough go with starting in the middle of the year, caused by staffing issues between the History department and the Vice-Principal position. However, both staff and students would be able to say he has pushed through like a champ. Mr. Gaul, the former student of Slippery Rock, was hired for the position of Honors American History 10 and Civics near the end of 2021 and has been challenged with the job to fill shoes and teach as if he hasn’t missed half of the academic year. Gaul says he wanted to come back because “The commute was definitely something that was more positive about coming here than where I was previously. I liked my school up there (Clarion) but coming back to Slippery Rock to teach has always been a dream of mine. To get back to the area that, you know, I grew up in and went to school, so when I saw that opportunity, I jumped on it.” Because Gaul started in the middle of the year, both he and the students had some adjusting to do. Gaul says, “Usually you get to start off the year and kind of set your expectations as a teacher in a classroom. I think that it could’ve been easier starting from the beginning, but I like all of my classes.” One of the biggest adjustments, though, had to be when Mr. Gaul had to realize he was now the teacher, rather than the student. Gaul says, “It was a little bit weird at first. I’m not gonna lie… I felt like I was doing something wrong like I was sitting in, in Tabish’s [Retired teacher] old desk and felt like I was breaking the rules and that he was going to come through the door at any moment and yell at me to get out of the seat, but it’s been fun.” Gaul is looking forward to his career at the high school and is excited about the classes he will be teaching in the impending future.

Mrs. Mitcheltree

Mrs. Mitcheltree worked as a learning support teacher with all grade levels for 2 years, then as a Kindergarten teacher for a year, then for the next 6 years, she taught as a first-grade teacher. Mrs. Mitcheltree has not only had to adapt to the different schedules compared to the elementary school but also wake up earlier. Going from waking up later in the morning to waking up and leaving hours earlier worried Mitcheltree, she was worried that she might not wake up on time and end up getting to the school late. But on the plus side, she gets to go home earlier as well and is able to be home to get her kids off the bus. Mrs. Mitcheltree was wonderfully surprised when she got to the high school and the students adapted better than she thought they would have, “I thought that it would be a really tough adjustment for them to handle such a big change mid-year. But overall, they’ve done an excellent job. They’ve made me feel welcome. They cooperated well with me.” Mrs.Mitcheltree really enjoyed being able to see students she once had years ago all grown up now. She loves being able to see how much her previous students have grown, like when she went to the prom and saw her students, and she is looking forward to going to their graduation and watching them start a new chapter of their lives. Not starting at the beginning of the year was a bit tough. Mrs. Mitcheltree said, “I am looking forward to starting fresh you know starting off a whole new school year. In my way, you know getting the classroom ready myself making you know, expectations and plans all on my own. You know it was tough to come into someone else’s classroom that was already set up and had expectations in place and I really look forward to being able to do it all myself and really make this classroom what I hope that it can be I have a lot of plans and a lot of things that I would like to see go on in this room and so I’m hoping that I can work on that over the summer and get it ready for the fall.”  It’s fair to say that Mrs. Mitcheltree is excited to be able to create her own path and make her future years teaching in Slippery Rock Area High School the greatest she can make for herself and her students to come.