The nugget. (Sisters, Or.) 1994-current, October 10, 2018, Page 19, Image 19

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    Wednesday, October 10, 2018 The Nugget Newspaper, Sisters, Oregon
Middle school principal ready for her ‘Sisters time’
By T. Lee Brown
Alison Baglien journeyed
from Oregon to Chicago,
around the world, and back
again. The new principal of
Sisters Middle School is a
music fan who loves to hike,
travel, and learn.
Baglien (pronounced
BAG-lee-uhn) served as a
resident principal in Chicago
Public Schools, teacher and
coordinator in Acero Charter
Schools, and teacher and
inclusion specialist in the
schools of the Archdiocese of
As a child she lived in
Oregon and Washington until
high school. Then Baglien’s
parents moved the family to
Chicago, which remained
her home base until this year.
Chicago offered career and
educational opportunities
— not to mention a world-
renowned music scene.
“Where I lived in Chicago
I could walk to 10 different
venues in 10 minutes,” she
said. A self-described music
junkie, Baglien described
her tastes as “all over the
place.” In Chicago, she fre-
quented indie shows and
the symphony. Recent big
concerts include Tom Petty,
Tim McGraw, and Dead &
Company. Two favorites
are Fleetwood Mac and The
Head and the Heart.
“I just like live music and
how music makes you feel,
how it can inspire,” Baglien
said. She took in as many
acts as she could at Sisters
Folk Festival. “It’s been fun
working with Brad (Tisdel of
the festival) and the Studio
to Schools grant,” she said,
adding, “I did know that
there was a good music scene
before I moved here.”
Family is central to
Baglien’s life.
“I have a huge, close fam-
ily. My mom is one of 13. I
have 40-some first cousins. I
love my 12 nieces and neph-
ews as if they were my own
kids,” she said. “We have
these huge, Irish, wild kinds
of weddings.”
The extended family
returns frequently to Central
Oregon, to the house at Black
Butte Ranch they have main-
tained for decades. Baglien
estimated she has visited
Sisters Country several times
a year throughout her life but
noted that moving here per-
manently feels different.
It’s exactly what I
was looking for — a
different lifestyle, pace of
life, better work balance,
and just having the
outdoors nearby.
— Alison Baglien
“It’s exactly what I was
looking for — a different life-
style, pace of life, better work
balance, and just having the
outdoors nearby,” she said.
“I’ve done more hiking in
the last few months than I’ve
probably done in the last 10
years and it’s felt good.”
Travel is another of
Baglien’s passions. “I took
my 30th year of life off to
travel and volunteer around
the world,” she told The
Nugget. “That had a pretty
big impact on the educational
and career choices that I’ve
She had been teaching at a
private school in the affluent
Lincoln Park area of Chicago.
Additionally, she began men-
toring in the South Side of
Chicago, where communities
are more ethnically and eco-
nomically diverse.
Ultimately, she found it
more rewarding than her day
job, where she felt students
came from families that had
issues but were probably
“going to be okay in the long
run.” She wanted to learn
more about families and stu-
dents in other situations. With
the encouragement of her
mentor at DePaul University
and help from the Center for
Cultural Interchange, Baglien
set out on a volunteering
“I was inspired in a lot of
different ways,” she said. One
inspiring place was Cuzco,
Peru, near the ruins of Machu
Picchu, where she went to
school to learn Spanish. She
then worked at schools in
Ecuador, an experience she
said “spurred me into being
involved in a charter school
in the Southwest Side of
Chicago which was at 98 per-
cent poverty level.”
The final location on her
trip was a squatter settlement
outside of Cape Town, South
“I was actually one of the
last volunteers to go there,”
she described, “because after
I left, there was too much
bloodshed to allow volunteers
in there anymore.”
The trip brought “great
experiences that will forever
impact me,” Baglien said.
The new principal of Sisters Middle School was inspired by a volunteering
and travel journey she took at age 30, including time in South Africa.
She returned to the University
of Notre Dame to become a
learning specialist.
Last year, Baglien was
drawn to “the unique oppor-
tunity that we have in a three-
school district. It is what
attracted me to Sisters, to be
honest.” Education in large
schools and districts “turns
into a lot of compliance and
mandates,” Baglien said.
“To be able to work closely
with other administrators
within a small town and a
community that’s so invested
in those schools — we should
really be knocking it out of
the park,” she said. “I think
we’re close. We’re hitting a
lot of doubles and triples, but
we’re not there yet. And I like
that. I like a challenge.”
Baglien concluded, “I’m
a pretty big believer in things
happening for the right rea-
sons at the right time. I think
this is my Sisters time.”
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