“Ms. Ponkos, can I work with students this week?” This question was asked on day one at Butternut by a student that had earned his black badge and could have spent the morning free riding with friends. At the next lesson check-in time, this student eagerly volunteered to continue working with a younger, less experienced rider because he felt progress was being made and the experience should continue.
Throughout the day at Butternut, students of all levels work together to build skills on the slopes. Students foster friendships and build self-confidence along the way. They take pride in themselves and the accomplishments of their fellow students. To earn the next badge level and gain access to more challenging trails, students work toward mastery of specific ski or snowboard skills Inexperienced skiers and riders begin with a white badge and have their lessons with an instructor on the bunny hill, magic carpet, and mini lift. To move up to a green badge students are tested to ensure they have mastered the necessary skills before taking on new challenges. The same holds for all levels of skiing and riding, all the way up to the Blue Whale – a badge only given to those who demonstrate skills at the expert level on the slopes up at Killington during the annual ski trip.
The student/faculty divide which may be felt in the classroom breaks down on the mountain as students become leaders and faculty become students. Skiing and riding is mastered through the physical body, through muscle memory and strength. People can excel on the slopes without language challenges getting in the way of success. When a student can share their expertise with others, a powerful transformation is made, a bond is formed, and a life is set up for success. The opportunities for students and adults to grow together on the slopes is part of the magic of Kildonan’s snowsports program and why the School invests in professional development for teachers with the Professional Ski Instructors of America/American Association of Snowboard Instructors.
Kildonan is PSIA/AASI Member School and has several certified instructors who help to train their fellow teachers and oversee the development and testing of the students. As a PSIA/AASI Member School, Kildonan holds itself to the highest standard of instruction. Snowsports instructors engage in professional development with PSIA/AASI to continually improve the quality and sophistication of instruction of the program, in an industry that continues to advance it is essential for instruction to keep pace with student interest and ability.