After previous years’ successes of recruiting student ski instructors from RAHS, the Mohan Ski and Board School is looking forward to the 2017-18 season, in which they will bring back the program.
Mohan’s COO, Jennifer “Nif” Stimmel, is adamant that their school — located on Snoqualmie Pass — is an excellent environment in which students can learn and work together.
“Students from Raisbeck Aviation have many opportunities,” said Stimmel, “from being given the chance to experience a new outdoor sport to developing leadership and communication skills as a part of our staff.”
In addition to teaching, instructing at Mohan gives students the opportunity to experience, learn, and add more to their repertoire of skills.
“As a staff member you will learn leadership, communication skills, problem solving, and you’ll find confidence you didn’t know you had,” said Stimmel. “All these benefits help your future.”
The teaching system that Mohan instills is a structured and focused approach with an emphasis on games and camaraderie.
“Instructors are expected to create a fun experience for everyone,” said Stimmel. “Be early to classes, cause as much laughter as possible, and end the lesson on a high note. It is the instructor’s job to recognize struggle before it overwhelms the student and adapt their style to better suit the student.”
Chairman of the Mohan Board and mother of an RAHS sophomore, Dianne Meboe, believes aspiring instructors need to achieve a “do hard things mindset” and have an organized, prepared attitude.
“[Instructors] have gone up and had eight weeks of training so they can work, so people [students] can have this experience learning in this challenging environment,” said Meboe. “You’ve managed to get your whole act together to combine all of your gear, your attitude, [and] your work ethic to help somebody else find the enjoyment you have in skiing.”
Meboe’s goal for the 2017-18 ski season was to set up a ski bus program at RAHS, but she was lacking the required amount of people to be Mohan students or instructors.
“In the past, Mohan has served Raisbeck Aviation High School with a ski school program,” said Meboe. “These serious kids [would] pack up all their gear into the bus after a whole day of school and head up to the mountain and they get ready to teach.”
Sophomore Nicholas Eschweiler is planning on joining Mohan, because it is a way for him to get his “volunteer hours doing something I love.”
“Mohan stands out to me because I have always wanted to either instruct or participate in ski patrol, and Mohan gives me the ability to do that,” said Eschweiler.
Eschweiler plans on working with Mohan whether or not the ski bus happens; he is focusing on making a difference on the slopes.
“I love the idea that I can get my volunteer hours because it allows me to fulfill a graduation requirement while teaching another generation of skiers,” said Eschweiler.
The ski school is focused on creating a close community within the business as well as on the slopes.
“We are one of the only non-profit ski schools and we offer more training to our staff than any other ski school in the area,” said Stimmel.
Pat Smith, a Mohanian since 1990, a ski instructor for eight years longer, and a long-time skier, believes learning and teaching the sport is a fantastic way for students and people in general to grow.
“This is a life sport,” said Smith. “It’s not like football; it’s not something we’re going to stop playing when we’re at a certain age. This is a sport we can do all of our lives, and learn those skills and enjoy it.”
Skiing takes hard work and dedication, and teaching at Mohan requires even more.
“It [skiing] gets people out of doors and exercising, moving somewhat,” said Smith, “enjoying a physical experience that has some risk, some excitement to it, some speed, but requires people to have coordination and understanding.
RAHS mentor and sporadic substitute teacher Dave Jones has been an instructor at Mohan since 2011. He believes that the opportunities at Mohan make the experience worthwhile, whether or not a student is experienced or a novel skier.
“You don’t have to be an expert skier,” said Jones. “The clinics that you attend are fun and they really do help you get better.”
Throughout Stimmel’s experience of Mohan, she has seen staff come and go, but the relationships remain strong. She has grown a personal connection with previous staff, and is determined to do so with future staff as well.
“At Mohan we have staff that started as students taking lessons, got recruited once they were ready and have now been with the ski school for a decade or more,” said Stimmel. “We have staff that work with us through High School, leave for College, and then come back to us.”
Being a part of the Mohan family has benefits that transcend the normal expectations of a ski school.
“If you stay up at the lodge that’s a really fun way to become more ensconced in the Mohan family because you’re getting to know people at a deeper level,” said Meboe. “We have Taco Night on Saturdays, we have a Christmas party, we have a Super Bowl party, we have Awards nights, [and] we have extra clinics that you can take with master instructors.”
“The fun benefits are; $80 season’s pass, access to stay in our lodge every weekend, a paycheck for time taught and awesome new friends that like to do something you obviously like to do, Snowsports.”
As the new year dawns, Stimmel is preparing for her second year in command of the school.