“Sky Islands saved my life.” This is a quote from my daughter, now 20 years old. She had gotten into trouble at a school in TUSD. We used to drive past Sky Islands on my way to work, so we stopped in to check it out. That was the best decision we made. The school is small enough to give individual attention to kids that get lost in the big school district system. My daughter thrived and everyday she came home with new enthusiasm about learning. She graduated, which she never would have done in TUSD, and is still so happy that we enrolled her there.
My son was different. He too, got in trouble in TUSD, but fought me about transferring to Sky Islands. In fact, he fought everyone. The staff had many little run-ins with him, but they stuck by him. It took him almost two years to figure out that he needed to find the desire to graduate within himself. When he did, Sky Islands was right there for him. They saw that he wasn’t confident in his reading skills and brought in a special teacher to tutor him. They also hired a math teacher who really helped build his confidence with the math AIMS. He graduated this past year! I’m so proud of him and so thankful to everyone at the school.
Over the last three years, I have realized and appreciated the determination and commitment (of the staff) to their school and to the students, who have the desire for knowledge regarding environmental and social issues we are faced with today and in our future. Little by little, I began to see the sparkle come back into Sam’s eyes. He began to show excitement in sharing his newfound knowledge of the environment and social issues which he didn’t seem to have much interest in up to that point. This school and the staff were the safe haven that Sam and our family neeed.
Sky Islands high school is a really awesome place to be. Before I came here I hated school so much I even dropped out. Then my Aunt told me to try this school out, so I agreed to give it a chance. Within a couple of days I was looking forward to going to school. Sky Islands has helped me in many ways. I also love the fact that it is the only environmentally-friendly based school in Tucson. So every day we learn something new about the environment. The teachers are also awesome. At Sky Islands, they are not only your teachers, they are your friends. We do a lot of hands-on learning, like our garden, composting, we even have a hiking class. So Sky Islands is an all around awesome place to be.
My experience with Sky Islands High School has been a completely positive one. It began with their willingness to take on a student who, because of a bad life choice earlier in the year, was refused re-entry to his previous school. Their compassion and understanding allowed my son to graduate on time and accept a scholarship for fall entry to the Eller College of Business at the U of A. It immediately showed me that this school is truly concerned about helping our youth be successful and positive citizens. They cared more about what he has to offer in the future than in what he might have done in the past.
The integrated curriculum offers students a very hands-on and interactive education. For the first time since he began high school, Noel’s answer to “How was your day at school?” was more than “OK”. He sat and talked to me for more than an hour about an insect and its effect on the garden project they were working on. It was wonderful to hear that the students were learning about what goes into creating and maintaining an organic garden. It is very science-oriented, but the problem solving lessons are filtered through all subjects, and that sets it apart from other schools. As an engineer I know the importance of thinking things through and planning ahead.
Working as a mining engineer I appreciated the fact that, although the school is very environmentally-oriented, they accepted my invitation to come on a mine tour and learn the other side of the mining industry’s issues. The students kept an open mind and were excited to learn about the measures we take to help restore the balance between environmental concerns and mining needs.
I like the environment of this school. I like the way the teachers treat you with respect. Every one in the school is friendly. I love how we are a hands-on school.
I’ve attended Sky Islands High School since the first day it opened and I’m grateful that my mother enrolled me. I have attended other schools in Tucson but didn’t have much luck with them and I eventually gave up on having a proper education, but Sky Islands has offered me a chance to learn the way I do best, hands on! I have been to Taos, New Mexico for a field trip where I got to learn about sustainability by helping in the garden of our host, I also got to attend a Native American ceremony which allowed me to experience another culture, not from text books but from being there with them. Sky Islands offers a chance to get out of the class room and learn from what surrounds you.
Since I’ve attended this school my teachers and I have grown close. We sometimes butt heads and that’s okay because every family does; and that is what Sky Islands becomes, your family. My teachers have not only challenged me in the classroom but I’ve been challenged from my advisor on the racquetball court, through personal issues such as my fear of birds, and life changing choices like joining the military. I’ve been given the opportunity to understand sustainability by literally putting my hands in the dirt; we’ve built our own garden and have built gardens for Craycroft Towers as well.
“All and I mean ALL the teachers are always ready to teach and learn. There is a no opting out norm which is most important. It forces us to go outside our comfort zone and learn more about the world around us.”
“I appreciate the positive affect from the teachers and the respect they show the students. I also like the environmental focus.”
“I came to Sky Islands because of the smaller class sizes and the individual help that is offered to everyone. At my previous schools I felt lost and alone because I just didn’t seem to fit in. Here all of the students belong to the same community and no one is left out. It makes me feel like I actually have some potential in me.”
“We have teachers here who really care about us as people not just students. They work hard to teach us and make us a part of our own little community in the eco/education system.”
“I came to this school because my family thought it would be a good choice for me since it was a small, family like environment. The kindness and helpfulness from the staff and the students makes me feel like I can be me.”
“This school is very different from any other school I have even heard of. The teachers listen and take time to explain things you don’t understand. We always learn new things and ideas. There are always field trips and guest speakers that let us see a much bigger world.”
“This school is awesome in part because it is the only environmental school in Tucson. We have learned the importance of recycling and having our own garden. We are also all about giving back to the community through service work.”
“I like that we are small and have built a real community. I also like that there are Spanish speaking people here who can talk to my mom so she can understand easier what I am doing and how I am doing.”
“The moment I saw Sky Islands I decided this was the right place for me. It is small and diverse yet close knit. One of the first days I was here we took a field trip to a women’s shelter. We gave the inside a fresh coat of paint and installed a greywater system, which was hooked up to their washing machine. This helped them recycle and cut down the use of water. This school is all about reaching out to the community and using its resources to learn hands on how to give back. The root of the curriculum is based on what WE want to learn, then branched out and applied to standards and to real life.”
“I like Sky Islands better than any other school I have been to because here the teachers will take the time to listen to everything you have to say and will also take the time to make sure I understand everything they are trying to teach me. They don’t just hand us a book and tell us to do 1-42, they make us do things hands on. We are the only environmental school in Tucson and I am really happy that I can be a part of it.”
“Sky Islands is superb in its array of sustainably focused classes and their unrivaled field trips. The staff is unparalleled in their dedication to the environmental focus of the projects and classes they offer. “
“We do a lot of field trips!!! Fuimos a las Montanas Blancas y pescamos. Tambien aprendimos de un sitio que se llama Casa Malpais. Vamos a conocer logarez fantasticos! Es divertido porque estamoss con nuestro maestros.”
“I wanted to start coming to this school my freshman year, but my Mom wanted me to try a TUSD school. I’m really happy to be here now, and wish that I could’ve started last year, too. I like this school because it feels like a community, and the teacher- student relationships make it that much better.”
“At this school you learn about things you would never imagine— it’s a pretty fascinating thing.”
“This school is good in many ways, like the teachers, who work hard to make your time at Sky Islands worthwhile.”
“I know everyone here because the school is small, and everyone is so friendly. We love the environment, and that’s really what the world needs these days. I have so much fun here; the staff really does spoil us.”
“Sky Islands is the ‘cool school’! The reason I keep coming back is because it’s a small school where everyone knows each other.”
“Sky Islands is a great high school. It’s very community-oriented, so everyone is very close. The field trips are so fun, it gives students a chance to get out of the school and do some hands-on learning, and that helps us learn better.”
“This school is the “bee’s knee’s” and the “cat’s pajamas”! If you want to go on a crazy awesome learning adventure, come here!”
“Sky Islands is a great school. I’ve learned a lot, the trips are great and my Advisor and the teachers are sweet!”
“I go to this school because it has good teachers, and there are a lot of programs and things to do, and you get time to finish things. This school is a lot different from any other school because everyone is cool with each other.”