New staff integrating well at Sisters Elementary
Last updated 12/22/2021 at Noon
The hiring process at Sisters Elementary School (SES) is quite comprehensive, according to Principal Joan Warburg.
“We really want to be thorough in order to do the best we can to find the right fit,” she said.
With six full-time-equivalent positions to fill as of last spring, Warburg and her team set out to find the right people to carry on the school’s mission to prepare, inspire, and nurture a sense of belonging in its students.
“We wanted to hire people who were really motivated to be here in Sisters for a reason,” she said.
In speaking to The Nugget it became clear that each of the new staff members put Sisters Elementary at the top of their lists of where they wanted to work.
Two of the hires already had roots in the community, while others had eyed Sisters from other places.
Caroline Molesworth grew up in Sisters and graduated from the high school here. Her path to being hired as a certified special education teacher here has culminated in her landing what she describes as her “dream job.”
Molesworth said, “As I was pursuing my undergraduate degree and raising my family, I worked as a part-time/substitute preschool teacher with the phenomenal staff at SPRD (Sisters Park & Recreation District). I earned my MAT and elementary teaching license in 2019. My journey brought me to the special education department at SES last January, in a long-term substitute position as a paraprofessional.”
Being hired as a certified teacher in her hometown put Molesworth right where she wants to be.
“It’s the best feeling to work with like-minded individuals who bring fun and gratitude to the workplace,” she said. “I feel honored every day to work with each and every one of the students and staff at SES.”
Molesworth works half-time as a teacher, partnering with another new hire, Tammy Bick. She spends the other half of the day as an instructional aide.
In contrast to the homegrown Molesworth, Bick, a Salem, Oregon, native, landed in Sisters after eight years of teaching in Saudi Arabia.
Bick, her husband, Alex, and the three youngest of her seven children, made the move overseas. “We spent eight years living a fairytale life, with traveling, global friendships, and small-town simple living,” she said.
The family purchased a home in Camp Sherman three years ago with plans to make it their permanent dwelling once they were finished living abroad. But the pandemic, and a terrorist attack in Saudi Arabia, hastened their departure.
“The pandemic got us thinking of coming home sooner than later, so I applied for the job in Sisters,” she said.
On the day before the interview, a terrorist attack took place in their town. “That made me sure it was time to come home.”
Even as she had just completed her interview with Warburg, and was offered the job from overseas, she was “beaming with gratitude for the Sisters community and all the staffing supports to help each child reach their potential.
“I have been very fortunate to live and travel abroad, but Oregon is hands down the prettiest place on the planet. It’s so good to be back home,” she said.
Ellie Barbieri grew up in Easton, Connecticut, and spent the last eight years teaching middle and high school choir in Ohio. But she yearned to teach music full time in Oregon.
“I believe that music is for every child and that the music classroom should be an enjoyable place for all learners,” she said.
After interviewing for the job, she felt certain she would accept it if offered.
“I became aware of how special the district is through my interaction with the interview committee. Hearing their passion for students, the community, and the arts made me sure I was ready to be an Outlaw,” she said.
Julie Grace is no stranger to the Sisters community or SES, having worked as a substitute teacher for many years. She is now working part-time as a teacher in morning kindergarten, sharing duties with Mylee Card.
Grace’s two children graduated from Sisters High School, and she appreciates the small-school experience offered in Sisters.
“I love working with kids, and this profession has always allowed me to have the same schedule as my own children,” she said.
Jocelyn Gary Blevins holds a new position at SES as the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) teacher. After nearly 20 years teaching in Portland public schools, Blevins was attracted to Sisters for its setting, size, and academic achievements.
“I didn’t really know if I had a shot in heaven to get this job, but the committee believed in me, and now I get to mold these young minds by exposing them to more STEM subjects while also working collaboratively with what I think is the best staff in Oregon,” she said.
Known as “Miss STEM” by some of the younger students, Blevins has transitioned from intermediate grades to the younger ones quite well.
“I’ve taught everything from pre-kindergarten to sixth grade and always thought myself to be an intermediate-grade teacher. But I have to say I love the littles,” she said.
After working for the past five years for Deschutes County Library system, Alicia Hall filled another void for the school district when she was hired as the media manager for both the elementary and middle schools. Librarians and media specialists had disappeared in years past due to budget cuts.
Hall wanted to be in Sisters because of her positive experiences in a smaller district.
“I grew up in a K-12 school with an enrollment of about 800, so a smaller school system in a vibrant town like Sisters appealed greatly to me,” she said. “I really like the foundational involvement in the community.”
Having books as the focal point of her daily work is a passion Hall has kept throughout her life. “Books provided such a wider experience to me as a kid growing up in a very rural area,” she said. “Through books I traveled the world, had countless adventures, and learned so much about how to navigate the tough situations in life. As I grew older, I continued to love children’s literature, as well as interacting with kids.”
Like the other new hires, third-grade teacher Megan Kapp jumped at the opportunity to work in Sisters.
“I grew up visiting Sisters with my family and had a longtime goal of living in Central Oregon,” she said. “I was attracted to the small town and small school district environment as well as the natural setting of tall trees, blue sky, and snowy mountains that I can see when I come and go from the school.”
Kapp says she has fallen in love with SES, especially after getting to know her colleagues.
“The teachers are genuinely kind and caring,” she said. A graduate of Oregon State University, Kapp came to Sisters from the Alsea School District west of Corvallis where she taught fifth grade.
She is committed to her profession, explaining, “I teach because I want each of my students to have an adult in their life that believes in them and helps them acknowledge their strengths and successes. I want my students to enjoy learning and eventually apply their learning, behaviorally and academically, outside my classroom.”
From what Warburg has witnessed in the first weeks of school, the hiring process was a great success.
“They are all integrating so well and I am very excited about what they will continue to do for Sisters Elementary as we go forward,” she said.