Education Task Force Highlight
Kathy Brennan

The Education Task Force Highlight Series spotlights education leaders working to create new Certification Standards, education resources, and communication strategies that will benefit all members.

In this highlight, we sit down with Education Leadership Council Eastern Representative Kathy Brennan.

What task force are you on?  

I am the Eastern Representative on the Education Leadership Council.

What’s your current snowsports job title?

Technical Director at New Hampshire’s Waterville Valley Ski Resort.

How did you first get involved in snowsports instruction?

I began teaching as a 16-year-old at my home hill, Blandford Ski Area in Western Massachusetts. After college, I spent a few years at Wachusett Mountain in central Massachusetts.  Wachusett, like many resorts in that area, is a beginner factory. It was a great place to hone my craft and become an expert at the beginner lesson. It was also when I joined PSIA and trained with my peers to get my “Associate Certification” (Level II).

My next stop was Loon Mountain in New Hampshire where I worked as a weekend warrior teaching seasonal programs and private lessons. I was mentored and inspired by the Boyd brothers, Lisa Segal, and other PSIA-e education staff members to work toward, and achieve, my goal of attaining my Level III. I then earned a spot on the Eastern Development Team.

Earning a coveted spot on the Development Team fundamentally changed the trajectory of my life. Still a part-timer, I spent every weekend, holiday, and vacation day skiing, teaching, and training. I took summer trips to Mt. Hood in Oregon or Portillo in Chile. When I tried for the Eastern Division’s Examiner Training Squad (ETS) it was something I had to accomplish, versus something I was hoping to do.

Once on ETS I was inspired by Mickey Sullivan’s goal to put more Eastern members on the PSIA Alpine Team, but that required you to be full-time in the industry. The planets aligned and it was time to leave my job as a Business Analyst/Consultant and take on a full-time position as Assistant Director at Loon. Ultimately, I served three terms on the Eastern Division’s Tech Team, and made two attempts at the PSIA Alpine Team. While I was unsuccessful, the experience of preparing for, and participating in, the tryout made me a better skier, instructor, and athlete.

Eventually I moved from Loon to the neighboring Waterville Valley where I assumed my current role of Technical Director. Four years ago, I was honored to be selected as the Eastern Division’s Development Team coach. I love the opportunity to inspire, mentor, and prepare the future leaders of our organization. Currently, I enjoy actively participating on the Eastern Division’s Steering Committee, the Education/Certification Committee, and as their representative to the Education Leadership Council.

Sk instructor Kathy Brennan in front of Lone Peak

What are the task force’s main goals and how are you working to accomplish them?

The Education Leadership Council works with the discipline task forces and association leaders to foster communication, collaboration, and consolidation in order to reduce the duplication of efforts in educational initiatives. In addition, the ELC members work together to envision growth opportunities and evolution in snowsports education.

 What is your current role on the task force?

My primary role is to be a conduit of information and to facilitate decision making between the divisions. As an ELC member I review and approve all the materials prepared by the task forces and have regular online meetings. In addition, I have been actively involved with a sub-group of the ELC to help design a template for the upcoming Performance Guides and to work with the task forces to help refine and implement the design.

How will this benefit members? 

A consistent criticism of our organization has been concerns about divisional differences and duplication of effort. During our meetings, we review current initiatives, explore new ideas, and ensure the consolidation, consistency and quality of our educational materials. Once we finish, all the components of the Learning Connection model will have a complete system to support our mission.  Combine this with the open lines of communication and eagerness to share best practices and we have a platform for creating alignment across the country.

In addition, specifically related to the work I’m doing with the task forces on the format of the Performance Guides, I have been impressed by the incredible amount of work the task forces members are voluntarily doing to create the Performance Guides. These guides will help examiners, trainers and members to connect the Learning Connection to the specific ways we successfully apply the fundamentals to engage, inspire, and educate our students.

The hardworking and dedicated members of the task forces are spending countless hours working within their group, and across disciplines, to find a common vernacular and leverage best practices to create an exceptional set of tools to use in our training and assessments.  When you have a chance, please thank them for all their hard work!

Why is it important to you to work for the benefit of other members?

All of the best things in my life have been somehow related to snowsports. It is important to me to give something back and hopefully share some of the joy this sport has brought me.

What’s the fun factor? 

Connecting. Connecting with my peers, mentors, colleagues, students, friends. Connecting with the snow, the mountains, wind, nature. Connecting with the arc, the edge, my gear. Connecting with my body, my breath, movement, energy and strength.

Best part of being an instructor?

The smile from a student who just figured something out with my help.