Mick Wiest remembers vividly the night he learned he was named Wyoming's 2014 Teacher of the Year.
Wiest teaches English and language arts at Sheridan County District 2's Fort McKenzie High School. He says he teaches the same subjects to his students as are taught at Sheridan High School, but smaller class sizes allows him to be more hands-on and experimental in his teaching style.
He says it's also an advantage that he teaches the same students from grades nine through 12. He is the only teacher at Fort McKenzie who teaches those subjects. Fort McKenzie is the district's alternative high school.
He been teaching at the school for the past four years, and in addition to English also teaches theater and related classes. He sees an advantage in teaching the same students at all four grade levels, because he gets to know each student's strengths and where the student might need help.
Fort McKenzie was established for students who are at risk of dropping out of regular high school, and the reason isn't always academic. Wiest says some of the students have been bullied in lower grades, or may just have a different style of learning.
Wiest was first chosen as teacher of the year at the district level, and received $1,000 for that honor. As state winner, he now receives an additional $5,000. He's been teaching for 26 years.