“My son has only been at the school for one week. The impact that the teacher Shane Harle has had on my son is amazing. My son actually feels engaged in school and doesn’t see it as a burden to learn. He spends the morning doing his academics and then spends the afternoon working on his leadership and personal development through skiing. In one week my son can actually see the potential that he has and feels that it is attainable. That is worth more than anything in the world for a parent to see the light in their child’s eyes.”
With kind regards,
A GREAT BIG THANK YOU!!!
Podium of Life is about achieving your goals and making you the best person you can be. (Paul 7th grade)
Podium of Life is an environment where students are encouraged with facilitation to explore the upper spectrum of their expectations for achievement. (Corey instructor)
Dear Shane and Corey,
We are still glowing from our amazing winter season on the mountain with you and we are even more excited about the future.
When we first discovered your Podium of Life school it was like a dream come true; we were in England at the time and decided we would send our daughter, Mel, for a whole season and the experience of a lifetime. After attending your school for the 2011/12 season we just had to do it all again this year.
This year my daughter’s dream of becoming a skiing Olympian is really coming alive, thanks to your unwavering belief and absolute encouragement for Mel and indeed all your students to pursue their dreams; the reality actually seems possible! As parents we could want nothing more for our daughter than to have such a strong self-belief and determined spirit; an invaluable life skill for anyone.
Through the disciplined and self-motivated study that you encourage in your school her academic success has improved exponentially. Last year at her regular school Mel struggled with Math and always had homework in this subject (which she resented very much). On returning to her regular school she is achieving 100% marks easily and that’s a dream come true for any parent!!
Alongside her academics, as an athlete we can see and appreciate just how far she has come in such a short time. We are truly thrilled that she has far exceeded any pediatrician’s prognosis and that her overall fitness and strength also serve her really well at her regular school sports.
We have supported Mel’s ski racing dream from the start, believing that even if she never got to race she would improve her balance, co-ordination and muscle tone. You guys have really taken this to the next level and little did we know that her skiing abilities would reach such levels. You have led her the way to the Provincials in Silverstar and the ‘Whistler Cup’ and that was an amazing time almost overwhelming; well for us parents anyway, not Mel.
As a family we are so excited to be a part of P.O.L. and look forward to next season, which is only 204 days left and counting….
See you soon
Rachael, Simon and Mel.
Tommy and Jenny Nymann (Parents) – This letter appeared in the newspaper.
When I was a kid, I used to ski to School
We’d like to share with you a unique experience for our family this past winter season. A courageous and energetic Campbell River couple decided last year that they would embark on a new direction in their lives and careers. Shane and Corey Harle had a dream of starting a school program on the ski hill at Mt. Washington Ski Resort that would provide grade level schooling and ski instruction, allowing kids to accelerate their skiing skills at a higher rate while enjoying a new and progressive way of learning. Last season they made that dream come true when they created the Podium of Life Ski Academy. This season our daughters were fortunate to take part in the second year of this incredible opportunity. We believe what our daughters experienced amounted to so much more than just school and ski instruction.
Our daughters have been skiing since they were out of diapers, they are now 11 and 14. Both have been training with the Mt. Washington Alpine Ski Club for several years now, with our older daughter skiing competitively for the last two years, missing up to two months of school every year. Podium of Life offered a great chance to spend more time on skis to further their skills, but even when it became possible for us to take advantage of this unique program we were reluctant and unsure if it was the right thing to do. This was our daughters’ education we were messing with here. Would they fall behind in their schooling? Would they be able to integrate back into the regular school system after the ski season ended? Where would they live? Would they commute? How often would we see them? These and dozens more questions were on our minds as we tried to evaluate the pros and cons of experimenting with our children’s future. It didn’t take long to decide that some opportunities come only once in a lifetime and if fear and apprehension were all that stood in the way, well then, get out of the way.
Our children left home for the mountain to join Shane and Corey on December 5th. It had been decided that they would live with their Grandpa on the ski hill. Grandpa had decided he too would take advantage of an opportunity and rent a condo for the season and become a full time ski bum. He may have missed the fact he would also become a full time parent again.
The kids started out with some reservations. The schooling is based on the E-Blend home schooling program through School District 72 and the children now had to get used to working mostly independently on their new laptops at their own pace with guidance from Shane and Corey. Shane has been a teacher at the high school level in Campbell River for many years and has also worked in programs for gifted students. Corey works as a physiotherapist at the Campbell River Hospital. Both have skiing backgrounds and coaching skills, Shane in Freestyle skiing and Corey in Alpine Racing, what a great combination for these kids. The schedule consisted of focused independent school work in the first hours of the morning followed by group activities or projects and then outside for skiing or other activities after lunch, Monday to Thursday. Children involved in the Alpine race program with the Ski Club would train all day Friday through Sunday and some Mondays. Of course fresh powder days would see the schedule flipped to allow skiing the fresh snow first thing in the morning. Got to get the priorities straight!
As the kids fell into their new routine of focused learning mixed with skiing and a variety of other mountain activities we became aware of the only downside to this experience, we suddenly had an empty house. OK, that wasn’t all bad, but the overall feeling of being distanced from our children’s everyday life was admittedly not a good one. We made it work though. It would have been a different experience 30 or even only 15 years ago, modern technology really does make it easy to communicate. Daily phone calls, texts and Skype sessions allowed us to stay at least moderately connected and involved on a daily basis.
Of course we would spend our weekends on the ski hill with them, busy, full weekends of training , visiting and scrambling to catch up to all those loose ends you’re used to keeping tied up on a daily basis. It was difficult to gauge how this experience was working out for us all, it seemed good but I’m sure most of you parents out there experience the robotic response from the always ready to talk about their day adolescent. “How was school?”, “Good”, “Anything interesting happen?”, “Nope”. Meanwhile you find out the next day that she may have gotten an award or the fire department had to put out a blazing inferno in the gymnasium. Anyways, we could see they were having a good time and as the season went on bits and pieces began to fill in the information we were really looking for. Guest speakers, ranging from professional skiers and snowboarders talking about their film careers to Orthopaedic Surgeons talking in detail about their daily activities , became a weekly norm. Our youngest daughter may have already discovered a career path she will likely avoid. I happened to pop into the classroom to try and catch a part of the Orthopaedic Surgeons presentation, only to find her sitting outside in the cafeteria, white as a ghost with one of her teachers making sure she stayed upright. She didn’t appreciate the finer details of the working parts of a human knee. Outside activities ranged from Alpine Racing with Corey and Freestyle tricks with Shane to cross country skiing and snow caves. They even spent a day learning mapping and compass work.
By the time the season came to a close we had a clear and overwhelmingly positive picture of what their time at Podium of Life had given them. On an academic level they had been exposed to an entirely different way of learning and working that was a blend of very quiet focused university style individual time, to fun filled media based and art group projects. On an athletic level they had greatly advanced the skills they came into the season with while at the same time adding entire new skill sets to their repertoire that they would likely never have considered trying before.
Finally, and possibly most significant of all, on a life and social level they had looked outside the box. Through Shane and Corey’s enthusiasm, energy, positive attitudes and their effective use of compelling guest speakers, they had been awakened to the idea that it’s OK and often even great to do things a different way, your own way, to take a risk , rise to a challenge, work with your fears and achieve your goals.
The Podium of Life program came to and end on April 5th and as our daughters came home from their first days back at their regular schools, some of the insight and reflection we were looking for rose to the surface of their young and easily distracted minds. They talked of the friends they had made, the incredible experiences they had enjoyed and how different it was to go from the regimented, focused twelve hours a week of classroom time on the ski hill to the frantic, often chaotic thirty hours a week they would now be spending in the school system. When we asked them, was it good? Would you want to do it again? Before they even opened their mouths you could see in their eyes what the answer would be and that was all we needed to cement in our minds that the experiment we had undertaken with our daughters education was a huge success. As a family we all grew in the sense that we had stepped out of our comfort zone and been thoroughly rewarded. Our hope is that the lesson will stick with us and our children for the rest of our lives. We would like to whole-heartedly thank Shane and Corey as well as all the other students, parents and contributors to Podium of Life for a truly wonderful and eye opening experience. Everyone should be as fortunate we are.
The Nymann Family
Nancy Green Raine:
“When I was in high school, I missed many months of school in order to train and race. Today using technology to deliver distance learning, school can be brought to the mountains. The Podium of Life program under the direction of a master teacher offers a winning combination for young athletes: quality time training on snow and first class education. Parents now have a way for their children to pursue their dreams of excellence in sport without sacrificing their education.”
Senator Nancy Greene Raine, Olympic and World Cup Ski Champion.
“Coming from Vancouver Island, it was amazing to be able to race at Mt. Washington. I loved growing up in a small mountain community and all my fond memories of a young racer revolve around hitting the alpine slopes in the day and then cross-country skiing to my friends places after skiing. For me, coming from Nanaimo and a regular school system, it was very difficult to combine skiing and school. My goal was to be able to graduate with good grades, and on time with my peers. To do so, I was forced to move from the island (and Mt. Washington) and go to Whistler. I have always wished that I could have continued at Mt. Washington until I reached the Provincial Ski Team and I feel like I missed some good development years on the mountain in order to achieve my academic goals. Combining school with the opportunity to ski is brilliant and absolutely necessary to be able to provide our athletic youth with the well-rounded life that they should have. Congratulations!”
8-time Canadian Champion, 5 –time World Cup medalis, World Championship bronze medalist, Proud member of the Mt. Washington Ski Club.
I have known Shane and Corey for close to 20 years through my involvement with multi sport event planning and then later in the Mount Washington Community. Both of these fine people have instilled a positive approach in anything they do. Both their smiles are genuine and their commitment to youth and youth development can not be questioned. Their commitment is genuine, and their abililty to deliver the teachings and experience needed for this program are without a doubt 100% guaranteed.
Sincerely, Rick Gibson