Member Spotlight: Dave Jacobson

Meet PSIA-AASI member Dave Jacobson, an Alpine Level II instructor from Mount Brighton Ski Resort in Brighton, Michigan.

What inspired you to become an instructor?

I fell in love with skiing when I was eight, and at 18 was elected president of my college ski club. The campus included land that was once farmland, so we raised money to build an A-frame chalet and installed a rope tow. We were missing a ski instructor, so I took on the job back in 1969 and taught my peers how to ski.

What keeps you coming back to teach every year?

The greatest gift for a ski instructor is helping a student breakthrough. Seeing their joy and excitement is the reason I keep instructing. Turning first-timers into lifelong skiers drives me to help them find the exhilaration and fun that I’m fortunate to have had in my life for over 50 years!

What stands out about your teaching?

Over the years, I have had unique teaching opportunities, including guiding a skier who was blind and teaching students who were deaf from the Delavan School for the Deaf. I think my teaching style was honed with the students who were deaf since it demanded non-verbal teaching requiring spot-on demonstrations.

What’s one accessory, tool, or education resource you keep in your pocket?

One is a pair of tiny skis that once were part of a Christmas decoration. Another is a cutout of a ski boot with a hinge so I can explain closing the ankle. Finally, I made a flexible rubber body profile with two hinges that I can bend at the knee and at the waist.

Is there an ‘insider’ tip you’d like to share with members?

Knowing how to ski doesn’t mean you know how to teach skiing. It takes commitment to learn the art of instructing. Get the PSIA-AASI manuals, attend clinics, and earn your certification. Education staff members will help you reach your goals. Understand that learning never stops. Entrench yourself in the education process and you will find incredible personal satisfaction that is well worth the effort.

Describe a teaching or learning experience that sticks out in your mind.

When I was 22, I served as a guide for a university professor with a visual impairment. While riding the chairlift he asked me what I saw. I started telling him about the sparkling snow on the trees, the green chairlift, and the skiers down below. I never ride a chair without thinking about how a person with a visual impairment taught me how to see.

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