What did you learn early on about working with groups, managing expectations, and overcoming obstacles?
The first, of course, was how to keep track of everyone. Then, how to make everyone in the class feel like they belonged. As an introverted teenager, I quickly learned that I needed to reach out to my students and establish a connection by accepting them as they are.
Expectations are interesting in that everyone in the lesson has them. A critical first step for the instructor is to set accurate expectations. I’ve made plenty of mistakes over the years; most often as a result of incorrect assumptions about a student’s motivations or expectations. I’ve found that checking my understanding before acting saves me and my students a lot of stress and wasted time.
What was your timeline of being offered new responsibilities, especially with regard to managing lesson splits… and other instructors?
I’d already taught skiing part-time for several seasons when I started snowboarding in the 80s, and that experience prepared me to help train new and younger instructors on the fundamentals of teaching. Training others helped me take on more management tasks at Washington’s Summit East, then known as Hyak.
As I pursued my PSIA certifications, I eventually moved to Stevens Pass, Washington, in the early 90s, to work for Andre Hirss and Sven Jonassen. They provided opportunities that increased my exposure to managing lessons, school operations, and training a wider spectrum of instructors. Eventually, (former AASI Snowboard Team member) Chad Frost and I ran the school at Stevens. From there, making the AASI Snowboard Team in 2000 opened the door to travelling, training, and examining around the other divisions.
What other jobs did you have, and how did they help you grow professionally?
I spent time working in the printing industry, a season on a fish tender in Alaska, and a couple years landscaping. The printing industry is detail- and quality-oriented, and the last print company I worked for sent me to supervisory and management classes, which I still find valuable.
My time in Alaska reinforced the need for a strong work ethic and to do what it takes, for however long it takes, to get the job done – sometimes in difficult conditions. My takeaways from the landscape industry include the importance of integrity, quality work, continually learning new and different skills, and time management.