News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Bilderback running for Sisters School Board

Karissa Bilderback is running for one of two open spots on the Sisters School Board that will be on the May election ballot this year.

Bilderback graduated from Sisters High School (SHS) in 2000, and now is raising four kids who are in and entering the Sisters schools. Bilderback grew up in the Willamette Valley, and her family vacationed in Black Butte Ranch when she was young. Her family relocated to Sisters, partially because of the schools.

“I loved high school and I felt like I received a great education, but in the mindset of an 18-year-old, I don’t think I fully realized it until I was comparing myself with peers in college, and realized just how prepared I was with English classes I took, and my study habits that were formed in high school,” she said.

After graduating from SHS, Bilderback attended Oregon State University, where she received a bachelor’s degree in human development and family sciences, basically a pre-education avenue. She then went to University of Portland, where she received her master’s in teaching.

“I got a job teaching right away in the North Clackamas School District, where I taught for six years, combinations of second and third grade,” she said.

Once she and her husband got married and wanted to start a family, they made it a goal to eventually get back to Sisters to give their kids the same education that she received.

“Through our conversations in our differences of experiences, it was evident that we wanted to get back to Sisters to raise our family,” she said.

They moved their family to Sisters 10 years ago when their kids were young, and they now have four kids, three in the Sisters schools: a sixth-grader, a fourth-grader, a kindergartner, and a 2-1/2-year-old. She began substituting in the schools, volunteering in the classrooms, and serving on the Sisters Parent/Teacher Committee, working in different areas on the board.

“Education has always been a passion of mine, from early on all the way through. Running for school board felt like a natural step for me to take,” she said.

Bilderback has always had it in the back of her mind to run for the School Board when the opportunity presented itself. She felt as if now was a good time in her life; with her youngest heading to preschool she has more time to serve. As her kids inch closer to high school, she will have kids in all three buildings.

“Now is a great time to give back to the system that I am so grateful for. I have a lot of pride and I feel like our school district excels in so many ways, and I want it to continue,” she said.

Bilderback is continuing to volunteer in the elementary classrooms and interacting with the kids.

“Once a week I volunteer in my kiddos’ classrooms and I go in and do anything that the teacher needs to lighten their load,” she said.

She sometimes works with the kids in the classroom, testing them with their letter sounds, and helping one-on-one with math assignments.

“There is such value in lightening that teacher load… and interacting with the kids and getting to know the students in my kids’ classrooms, and teachers in the building,” she said.

When it comes to the School Board, Bilderback brings experience wearing the parent hat, an educator background, being a long-time community member, and having kids as her number-one priority.

“I feel like it gives me a unique perspective from all those different vantage points,” she said.

Bilderback stated that she is not running for the School Board because she is angry or frustrated with a certain aspect of how the District is run.

“I am running because I feel like we have an amazing District and I want it to continue,” she said.

Like many parents and community members, she knows that Sisters is a special place and at its root are the schools.

“To me, it is crucial that they continue to be that special place that people envy what we do in the schools,” she said.

Bilderback emphasized the strength of the staff that stay in for the long haul.

“You can’t make a teacher care; in Sisters we are lucky enough to have teachers that go above and beyond for their kids,” said Bilderback.

Bilderback is passionate about giving back to the district that helped shape her as a person when she went through high school. Running for School Board was the natural next step in her service to the schools and to her own kids.

Her campaign bio states: “I believe that the best decisions are made when a diverse set of voices are heard. These voices should be included constructively and within the goals of reaching a place of understanding and finding solutions. I hope to work with other members of the Board to approach each issue with evidence, an eye on best practices, and a commitment to seeking the best results for our children.”


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