For Midlothian resident / Master Gardener Pat Cheshier, once a teacher, always a teacher
Retired teacher Pat Cheshier finds new ways to share his knowledge, now with gardening
Mr. Pat Cheshier, a Midlothian resident since 2004, spent 39 years teaching children in public schools in classrooms around the Dallas metroplex.
He thought his teaching days were over when he retired from Mesquite High School in Mesquite, Texas, in 2008. Little did he know, that some six years later, he would be teaching adults AND children – doing something entirely different from what his college years had trained him for.
Prepping for a change
Cheshier says he worked outside every day growing up – either with crops, in the garden, or in the yard at home. When he decided to retire from teaching in 2008, he began to take the classes necessary to join the Ellis County Master Gardeners Association, and he is still a member today.
He is proud to say that he has single-handedly landscaped four houses in his lifetime, and he has always enjoyed learning about new trees and plants along the way.
“Growing up on a farm gave me a good knowledge and interest in plants”, says Cheshier. “I collected books from various authors on plants and landscaping in Texas, especially books on native plants. Next, I took the Master Gardener classes to become even more well-versed on gardening, landscaping, and horticulture. It was also helpful to me that there were also speakers who came to the monthly Master Gardener meetings to speak on a variety of topics concerning plants and landscaping. I have been a member of the Texas Nursery and Landscaping Association pretty much since I retired."
Cheshier says each year they have an expo at a large convention center for landscapers, growers, and garden centers, held in either Dallas, San Antonio or Houston. They also offer classes annually, and he has attended those each and every year.
Time for a vocational switch
Today, Cheshier is the nursery manager for Earthtones Greenery Inc. in Midlothian. With his interest in gardening starting at an early age, he says his encouragement came primarily from his mother.
Cheshier says, “I am not a ‘sit down and rest’ kind of person, and I wanted to remain active after I retired. I was raised on a dairy farm in Lancaster on old Ferris Road, across from the Lancaster Airport. My family had a large garden, and we raised milo, wheat, and cotton. I had a keen interest in plants and landscaping already, because my mom worked outside in the vegetable garden and always planted flowers around our house and yard.”
He continues, “I was a customer at Earthtones Greenery for a number of years, especially since I had my home built in 2004 in Midlothian, and I landscaped and developed my own garden, flowers, etc. for my new homestead. After becoming somewhat a 'regular customer' there, I met and became familiar with some of the staff. I saw a posting for a sales associate and spoke to a lady (Sherla) who was a project manager for the landscaping division. I expressed an interest to her, that I would like to possibly work part-time at Earthtones. She next spoke to Justin Crocker, whom I already
knew, and I was hired soon after that."
He began working at the greenery, which is owned by Crocker, in March 2014. What started out as a fill-in, pass-his-time kind of venture, ended up with Cheshier landing himself the nursery manager title in 2016. He now works 40-plus hours a week and even some on weekends.
He explains, “I just needed something worthwhile to do after retirement. I didn’t really need the additional income, but the extra money has been great for extras around the house.” Now, after just recently celebrating his 74th birthday, Cheshier spends his working days helping the greenery’s customers, as he answers questions about all types of trees, shrubs, flowers, and other plants. He loves to share his knowledge and is always ready to give out some of his “free” gardening tips to those that ask for assistance or for his garden-related opinion.
Schooling and background
Cheshier graduated from Lancaster High School in 1965. His formal collegiate background includes attending East Texas State University, where he received a bachelor's degree in 1969 and then followed it up with a master's in 1971.
He worked for 39 years as an educator – the first two years at Red Oak I.S.D., then 26 years at Lancaster High School – and then finally retired from Mesquite High School after 11 years.
Over his teaching tenure, Cheshier taught Spanish one year at Red Oak, as well as World History, United States History, and United States Government. His last 10 years included Advanced Placement U.S. History and Advanced Placement U.S. Government, before retiring in 2008. This devoted educator also taught U.S. Government at Cedar Valley College during the summers of his Lancaster teaching years, and even after retirement, for a grand total of 10 years at the college level.
Cheshier relays, “I'm not exactly sure why I chose to be a teacher, but I think it was largely because of some excellent role models that I had in my 12 years in Lancaster schools. I had excellent dedicated teachers who prepared me well for my future after graduating from my home town. I could see the love of learning and teaching by some excellent long-time teachers like Mr. Marion Galbreath, who inspired me to teach U.S. History. He was a favorite teacher at Lancaster High, and he ended his legacy as the principal at LHS for many years.”
He adds that he has always enjoyed following sports for college, and especially high school. "From the time that I was growing up and through 26 years of teaching at LHS, I missed very few Lancaster High School football games. I also liked to watch Tiger basketball as well, and I worked at the scorer's table for high school basketball games for 20 years where I ran the clock for both the girls and boys home games.”
Beloved teacher and mentor
Cheshier has always seemed to be a “kid magnet”. Most teenagers loved classes taught by this patient, kind, and soft-spoken man. He was not only a great teacher, but he was also a great man of God.
Mrs. Toni (Trojacek) Roden of Red Oak was the valedictorian of the Lancaster Class of 1997, and she says of her government teacher, Mr. Cheshier, “He is the iconic example of what we desire in an educator. He was always fair, disciplined, interesting, challenging, and obviously cared about the success of his students (then and now).”
Another former student from the Lancaster Class of 1993 – Mrs. Buffy (Hullett) Reyes who now lives in Ennis – remembers him as a great government teacher. She remarks, “Mr. Cheshier was a quiet, laid-back guy that wasn’t a big talker, but boy, he was such an excellent listener. Kids felt comfortable coming to talk to him about anything.”
Cheshier explains, “It has always been gratifying to me in my 39 years and now in the years after. The first two years were tough, as it is for all young teachers, but I always enjoyed just interacting with kids and especially high school juniors and seniors. It is so rewarding to see them growing up and maturing, and then going out into the world and maturing further as they get more education, marry, have kids, and start careers. It has been so nice keeping up with former students through Facebook, and currently I probably have about 800 former students as friends on Facebook.”
What retirement looks like today
In the meantime, Cheshier spends many of his retirement days working at Earthtones Greenery, but he often enjoys weekends with his family. He has a son, Chad, who lives in the area, and a daughter, Casey, who lives in Austin. His pride and joy is his 13-year-old grandson, Cale.
Cheshier is also an active member of Creekside Church in Midlothian, and even teaches some Bible classes from time to time.
Even today, Cheshier still enjoys following high school football, especially with the two area Midlothian schools, Midlothian High and Midlothian Heritage. Since he taught U.S. Government for so many years, he also loves following happenings in the national government and elections.
He admits that he doesn’t have as much time as he would like, but he is fond of working in his own yard and trying out new plants within his own landscaping schemes.
Cheshier says, “I generally teach classes in the spring on various topics relating to gardening and landscaping. Of course, we had to cancel them last year due to COVID-19, but we plan to have them again this spring. In addition, I am called to speak at various elementary campuses throughout the Midlothian I.S.D., to teach young students about horticulture and its benefits. That is always fun for me to be back in the classrooms.” It may be a more common fact than not, concerning school teachers. Often times, “a teacher is always a teacher" – completely and unashamedly. Cheshier just can’t help it.
Teaching is what he loves, and teaching is what he does naturally. And besides all of that, he’s also extremely good at it!