News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Teacher raises last walls for Habitat

For years, Sisters High School’s woodshop and construction program teacher Tony Cosby has led crews of students in framing and raising walls for Habitat for Humanity homes in Sisters Country.

Last Wednesday, he hit the job site for the last time with a student crew. Cosby is semi-retiring and passing his hammer to Jason Chinchen, who plans to keep the Habitat program rolling.

“It was pretty smooth,” Cosby said of Tuesday’s labors. “A little warm, but other than that, a good way to end.”

The wall-raising program makes construction class real for students. Their work takes on a different level of seriousness when it is ending up as part of someone’s home. And the educational benefits go beyond learning to frame a wall, Cosby notes.

“It gets the kids in the mindset of it’s OK to volunteer … and it gets them to understand that there are people who need housing who can’t afford it,” Cosby said.

Students get to work with other people in the community, most of whom are a generation or two older than they are. And those volunteers get to see what they are supporting in Sisters schools.

“It’s kind of outreach into the community, too,” Cosby said.

“There’s a real great sense of accomplishment. Typically, we get to meet the family that’s going to live in it, so it all kind of comes around.”

Chinchen recognizes that he has big construction boots to fill. Having worked at Breedlove Guitars, he is well-placed to take on the Sisters School District’s signature luthier program. In fact, since he’s already dialed in on that, Cosby is slated to teach that class next year so that Chinchen can focus on getting up to speed on other programs, including the construction program.

Cosby says Chinchen is highly compatible with the program he built in an honored career at Sisters High School.

“He’s almost me,” Cosby said with a chuckle. “Except I think he’s a little smarter. He’s really bright.”

Does Cosby see the Habitat wall-raising program continuing?

“I think it will,” he said. “It’s one of the best things we do.”

Author Bio

Jim Cornelius, Editor in Chief

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Jim Cornelius is editor in chief of The Nugget and author of “Warriors of the Wildlands: True Tales of the Frontier Partisans.” A history buff, he explores frontier history across three centuries and several continents on his podcast, The Frontier Partisans. For more information visit


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