in Central Oregon knew about our school,” remembered Edwards. “the
first years I was here as a coach … I made my first phone
calls to set up my basket ball schedule … calling schools
like La Pine, Gilchrest and Prineville … nobody would play
me.” He knew their schedules weren’t that full, so
he finally asked why they wouldn’t play his team. “They
said, ‘Well Bill, we have to tell you the truth, we don’t
want your kids in our school. And furthermore we don’t want
The kids were rowdy, ill-mannered and the parents
got drunk at the games and had fights. “They were basically
good kids, they’d just been allowed to be like kids, kind
of ornery …” Bill said. So the Principal, Byron Evans
and Edwards and the other two women teachers decided it was time
for things to change. “We took these tough kids by the back
of the neck and said you’re going to be good and you’re
going to learn and this will be a good school, and that’s
where we started,” declared Edwards.
The secret to success was getting the parents to
focus their attention on helping the kids and the teachers create
an atmosphere of community, offing new opportunities for learning.
For example, Edwards started a baseball program.
None of the kids even knew the rules of the game, they’d
never played. This was before television was available in the area,
so they’d never even seen a baseball game. But families got
involved, an ex professional ball player, Dennis Brocket, offered
to help coach the team and over time, Sisters developed a powerhouse
In 1950 Edwards was offered the job of school principal
and superintendent. He continued to expand learning opportunities
including setting up a ski team, offering drama and developing
a conservation program focused on Indian Ford Creek.
In 1956 a friend of Edwards was given a teaching
position overseas. He told Bill he should do it too. With the friend’s
recommendation, Bill was given a position teaching in Germany,
thus leaving his students and friends in Sisters. He worked in
Germany for twenty years. He stayed in touch with friends and came
back to Sisters for regular visits. Edwards finally moved back
to Central Oregon for good, buying a home at Black Butte Ranch.
You can read more about Bill Edwards and his passion
for helping kids become great people and his love of nature, by
reading the “Oral Interview with Bill Edwards” on this