Small Snowsports School Scholarship Benefits Next Generation

Villa Olivia Winter Sports School, located in Illinois, received a Small Snowsports School Scholarship for the 2022-23 season to bring additional educational opportunities and training to their instructors. The school used the funding they received to train the next generation of instructors who work at the ski area while attending nearby high-schools and colleges.

“I was ecstatic when I received the call from PSIA-AASI Education Foundation member Mark Anderson,” said Andrea Brown, the coordinator for Villa Olivia.  She shared the school used the scholarship to help a group of young instructors earn their Children’s Specialist 1 credential, which in turn helped benefit the school’s students as children’s lessons make up most of their lesson products. A total of four instructors received their Children’s Specialist 1 credential through the special event the school hosted.

The Villa Olivia Winter Sports School, a small resort near Chicago, employs around 30 instructors. Their two rope tows and one chairlift take skiers and riders to the area’s seven runs. The public facility is owned by the Bartlett Park District and operated since the late 1960s.

“About 550 children, ages 4-12, enroll in our Snow Kids group lessons each season. Children and tweens make up the majority of enrollment in our group and private lessons,” said Andrea. “Total participation in our private and group lessons ranges from 500 to 1000, depending on the longevity of the season.”

As a small resort operated by a government entity, Villa Olivia operates with little down time. If the resort is open, instructors are giving lessons, leaving a short interlude to schedule education events like a credential assessment.

Andrea explained that while the scholarship event was successful, it was initially challenging to find a date to hold the credential assessment. An unseasonably warm season, coupled with prodigious rainfall, made it difficult for Illinois resorts to stay open during the 2022-23 season. This was especially the case for small schools such as Villa Olivia – who only opened to the public for 16 days.

When she found one weekend in January that worked for the assessment, she then needed to find an assessor who was available. Unfortunately, the weekend the event was scheduled warm weather forced the resort to close.

“Next, we made a plan to hold the event in February, and then the resort ceased seasonal operations just ahead of the rescheduled the assessment,” said Andrea. “Fortunately, park officials agreed to keep the slopes open for the credential assessment.”

She noted that while there are many challenges to running a small resort, it has an advantage in the ability to operate with flexibility. “That helped four instructors starting their careers experience a successful Children’s Specialist 1 credential event Feb. 23-24, 2023 at Villa Olivia in Bartlett, Illinois.”

Andrea shared that the instructors plan to return next season to teach children’s lessons to the community. Their proximity to neighborhoods, and the city of Chicago, Illinois, makes it an easier resort to travel to for many families, and gives children the opportunity to play outdoors in the winter.

“Our Children’s Specialist instructors will improve the quality of instruction for our guests, the majority of whom are ages 12 and under, and also help build an enthusiastic and dedicated staff of instructors who stay in the game over the long haul,” said Bobby Pierobon, superintendent of Villa Olivia Bartlett Park District.

The Villa Olivia staff echoed his sentiment. “You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression when you teach a child how to ski or ride,” said Alpine Level I certified instructor Ryan Ostrovsky. “PSIA-AASI’s teaching techniques and training give us instructions the ability to translate the lesson plan to students and parents, making teaching a reward experience to return to year after year.”