Sandy Thistle (Bio)'s' Photo

Sandy Thistle (Bio)

Carpentry Instructor at Madison College

Sandy Thistle joins the Stars Advisory Council from Madison, WI where she teaches carpentry (now in her 12th year) at Madison College. In this capacity and as a program director for Construction & Remodeling (C & R) she has spearheaded many transformative initiatives addressing accessibility, retention, and student success with a focus on equity and inclusion. 

Thistle, along with her teaching team, developed a pilot to increase individual support and successful outcomes for all program students with a focus on retaining underrepresented workers in the building trades. She was instrumental in development of the Construction Bridge embedded diploma, which aims to provide extra support and night classes to underprepared students.

In collaboration with the Department of Corrections and under her leadership, C & R now offers in-person coursework to incarcerated individuals. Recruited to be part of the School of Trades and Technologies Equity and Inclusion Team, she has been tasked with improving retention and recruitment. 

Sandy partnered with the Badgerland Council of Girl Scouts to create and deliver CampBUILD to girls K-12. The camp, in planning for its fourth summer, offers carpentry, design, welding and electrical hands-on experiences. The camp is the manifestation of a lifelong dream to change the script of what women and girls can do.

Her team has received the School of Applied Science, Engineering and Technology Apple Award in recognition of their successes, commitment, and passion to teaching. She has been individually recognized with a National Society of Leadership and Success Excellence in Teaching Award.

Thistle has always been dedicated to increasing accessibility to all underrepresented people in the building trades, thereby widening the pathway into well-paying, satisfying work. 

She shares her home with her partner Daithi, a cat and a dog. Her two adult daughters were expected to know how to use power tools before leaving home for the wider world. Each have forayed into non-traditional areas, one working in an automotive garage and the other as a beginning carpenter. She enjoys cross-country skiing and has skied the Birkebeiner ski race in northern Wisconsin. Learning pottery and time in the studio has gotten her through the rough spots of the pandemic.