What is Sisters High School?
Sisters High School of 430 students and 18 teachers, 1 counselor, 2 administrators, 3 educational assistants, 2 ½ secretaries, 5 support staff and a plethora of volunteers is located in the High Desert country of Central Oregon in Deschutes County. Our student to staff ratio at the high school is 25 to 1. Sisters is a small town of about 15,000 located within the school boundaries. Our school’s mission is to provide a caring community that is built on strong relationships, that sets and achieves high standards, where learning is positive and engaging for everyone. The city of Sisters is nestled in the Cascade Mountain range just east of the Three Sisters Mountains and 20 miles northwest of Bend. Sisters Oregon is a western themed resort town that is a wonderland of lakes, mountains and rivers. It is truly a paradise for hikers, campers, paddlers, mountain bikers, and skiers. The city also provides world-class lodging and a downtown that will delight shoppers and satisfy the dining needs from causal to elegant. We have a population of 89% white, 3% Hispanic/Latino, 2 % Asian, 1% Black, 1% American Indian and 3% multi-racial. Those that reside in Sisters make various sacrifices to engage in a better quality of life and have the access to our schools. As a result we have strong community support for our school district to help us fulfill our mission. Our community exhibits great pride in both co-curricular activities and academics by providing funding and volunteerism. Together we support our 12% who are special needs, 20% who are economically disadvantaged and the 90% who plan on attending college after graduation. Sisters is a center of arts and culture, offering events and activities that are international renown, from the Sisters Rodeo t the acclaimed Sisters Outdoor Quilts Show or the Sisters Folk Festival that also provide unique fundraising and educational opportunities for our students.
School Mission, Vision, Values, and Belief
Our mission is to provide a caring community that is built on strong relationships, that sets and achieves high standards, where learning is positive and engaging for everyone. We are most proud of our ability to establish an environment where relationships really matter. We understand that our students are faced with all sorts of challenges and every student is at-risk in one way or another every day. Although some of our students might be able to make it through four years despite the lack of any personal connections, we create a supportive environment where students know they belong as well as give our students a sense of ownership over the direction of their own learning. Having less than 500 students at the high school and having comparatively smaller class sized certainly helps our staff connect with our students.
Another point of pride is our ability to direct student ideas and interests into the learning environment as well as transition our student into college. As we continue to grow our advanced placement and dual enrollment courses are students are finding they are finding they are better prepared for college than many others. To enhance our learning environment we offer a variety of unique classes to our students from performing and visual arts to interdisciplinary courses. For the music lover wanting to write music, learn about the history of music and in some cases build a guitar we offer the Americana Project. For those who want to learn about the natural environment and gain an in-depth understanding of the world around them through a hands-on format we offer the Interdisciplinary Environmental Expedition course. For those interested in becoming a pilot we offer a Flight Science Course and for the entrepreneur we have a group of business leaders who help us offer a business class. For sophomores we offer an interdisciplinary honors class that combines American Literature and US History that truly enhances the learning experience for our students. We also support our students as they transition out of high school to reach their career goals by connecting them with a mentor their Junior year through our A.S.P.I.R.E program.
The major challenge Sisters High School faced the last three years is meeting the needs of all our students with shrinking funds. To meet this challenge we were fortunate to receive additional funding through various grants to help with some professional development. Our educators work collaboratively in an ongoing process of collective inquiry and action research to achieve better results for the students we serve. We are creating an environment where we operate under the assumption that the key to meeting the needs of our students is continuous, job-embedded learning for educators. Our departments work collaboratively from the elementary school to the high school to define the essential learning necessary to be successful for the next level. They also attend conferences, workshops and most importantly they learn from their own collective inquiry to ensure our instruction is aligned with the Common Core State Standards. Additionally, the departments are creating various assessments to collect evidence necessary to specifically state a student’s progress towards mastery of these standards into the classroom. We strongly believe that even in these tough economic times that we will create a system which will help the district educators specifically identify which students are meeting performance standards and which students are not. The challenge is how to meet the needs of our struggling students with shrinking funds.
We partner with community members to support our students in our school district. Sisters School Foundation was created in 1996 to respond to the major budget cuts and tax limiting measures that threatened programs in the schools. Their mission is to save, enhance, and perpetuate programs for all three schools in the district. Family Access Network (FAN) is a community partner to ensure children attend school ready to learn. FAN advocates are service brokers who link children and their families to critical social supports with the goal of keeping our students in school. FAN will help students and parents obtain all sorts of basic necessities from clothing to health insurance to rent assistance. Another community resource that has grown to be a major contributor to the education of our students in the area of science, math and engineering is the Sisters Science Club. The Sisters Science Club was formed to provide funding for professional development and learning opportunities for our teachers. While we are proud of what we do to help our struggling learners we know the most effective practice is to ensure we have the best teachers in front of the students.
The major challenge Sisters High School faced in the last three years is meeting the needs of all our students with shrinking funds. We are creative in our scheduling, writing grants and we are blessed to have strong community support as we passed a bond in May of 2016. These funds will help improve our facilities and give us some flexibility to hire additional teachers. We strongly believe that even in these tough economic times that we will create a system which help the district educators specifically identify which students are meeting performance standards and which students are not.