Skip to main content
View Sidebar
Click on any book icon to see Table of Contents and/or to purchase a copy.
Sister Bourne: Small Desert Schools to Tiny Prairie School

Sister Bourne: Small Desert Schools to Tiny Prairie School

March 29, 2024

Dear WinkWorld readers, 

I love the Arizona Highways magazine, and I love education, and I love education taking place in tiny schools.  Prairie pedagogy fascinates me.  We are fortune to have 4 teeny tiny schools (10 to 20 students) still operating with passion in our geographically  huge and very isolated area of the prairies of South Dakota. I was initially drawn to this area of interest by the legacy of Sister Bourne of Arizona when I learned of her during the late 70s when I was teaching at a small school in AZ. Therefore, I was very interested to read in a recent Arizona Highways the article, Reading, Writing,. . .Ranching by Kathy Montgomery, February 2024.  Such a disappointment to see that Sister Eulalia Bourne was omitted.

Sister Eulalia Bourne
ATPEFK Author Sister Eulalia Bourne Eulalia Sister Bourne 1897 1984 a legendary Southern Arizona schoolteacher

For me, Sister Bourne is the epitome of what it means to be a rancher and teacher simultaneously.  When I first saw her book, Ranch Schoolteacher, I thought it had been written just for me. I discovered myself as an educator in her book. From there I went right onto read her book, Nine Months Make a Year, and I learned that she had a lived my life in schools, well before I did. We always hear that kids need to find themselves in the books they read–me too. I found myself in Bourne’s book, Woman in Levis.

I never had the pleasure of meeting Sister Bourne, but I know she has many  former students on the desert, as I have met a few of them. The University of Arizona Library Special Collection section now honors her legacy by maintaining her artifacts. I’ve had the pleasure of searching through these treasures.

Coyote School News to Prairie School Post

Long before, I knew about the importance of encouraging children to write and become authors, Sister Borne and her students were creating the Coyotes School News..  The students became proud authors. Years later Atall School students on the South Dakota prairies discovered the Coyote School News and were inspired to create their own newsletter, Prairie School Post. More student authors were born.The story is posted below.

Joan Sandin, author/illustrator

No one captures of the magic of dear Sister’s work quite the way Joan Sandin does. See below to enjoy what she has put together as part of Sister’s legacy.

Joan Sandin and I in the photo.


Leave a reply