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Sisters students learn ski instruction at Hoodoo

By Jo Zucker

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Two Sisters students will spend 10 days this winter assisting ski instructors at Hoodoo Ski Area and gaining work experience which will makes them good candidates for teaching at the area's ski school in the future.

Sara Haynes and Kevin Breedlove, both juniors, were chosen for the positions through the Sisters Middle/High School "School to Work" program.

According to Rick Saul of Hoodoo Ski Area, the students were chosen because "They had a good foundation as far as skiing skills, they were eager to learn and accept feedback, and what really impressed us was their ability to reverbalize in an animated way concepts that had just been introduced to them."

All about the Sisters Country Three students from other area schools were also chosen. All five of the students will receive minimum wage, a lift ticket for each day they work, ski area discounts, as well as work experience and training.

As part of their experience, the students participate in training programs that Hoodoo offers to its regular ski instructors, who constantly work toward upgrading their certificate levels.

Then, Saul said, "like teaching assistants, the students go out in clinics and learn about ski teaching and at the same time they see the practical applications of the training they have just received."

The students spend their 10 days learning nine different aspects of ski instruction, including working with young children, adults, snowboarders or nordic skiers, super side-cut skiers, private lessons and working in the race and management departments.

The ski area benefits from the program as well as the students.

"Hoodoo gets a potential candidate for our ski school and someone to help assist classes and provide logistical support," said Saul. "For example, if a child in the childrens' class has to go to the bathroom, the assistant can help the child and the instructor does not have to stop the class."

Hoodoo is just one of the area businesses that help Sisters students get started in the world of work through the "School to Work" program. Colleen Reiss directs the project, which the school began last spring.

"We are trying to make education more relevant to kids, and also trying to have a better prepared, dependable work force," Reiss said.

"School to Work gets the students to start thinking about what job interests them, and also places them actually out in the work force where they gain hands-on experience by either observing or participating," said Reiss.

According to Reiss, roughly 35-40 percent of Sisters High's junior and seniors participate in either the internship or apprenticeship aspect of the program.

"In the internship program," said Reiss, "kids typically go to work for a semester, usually during school hours, and they get school credit. Sometimes they are also paid."

Many Sisters area employers have hired students on this basis, including a veterinarian, dentist, hotels, flower shop and Ray's Food Place.

Interning students are often assigned a wide variety of tasks.

"They get credit for developing a work ethic, and exploring a potential career -- its a good introduction to the work force," said Reiss.

The apprenticeship program teaches students specific skills. Among the various apprenticeship programs are those for nursing assistants, auto mechanics, dental assistants and insurance companies.

Reiss said that many business people donate their time.

"The teachers, in conjunction with the people in the particular business, create a specific list of goals and skills students need to achieve," Reiss said. "Many of the students take classes. They have to show competency before graduating from the program."

Reiss invites more businesses to participate in the program. She is also looking for opportunities for her students to "job shadow" by going to a business for a few hours one or two afternoons to see what that business is like.

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