What made you decide to teach again vs. working in The River Store? It’s hard staying in the shop while everyone paddles. As I took on more responsibility I had less river time. I’m returning to my kayaking roots!
Your parents are teachers. Did you learn anything about teaching from them? Tons, watched them break down material, build lesson plans, communicate new ideas and their enthusiasm. I LOVE discovering how someone learns and breaking down the components of a skill in a way they understand and ultimately have fun with. My diverse background of living overseas, learning a new culture and language gave me a better understanding of how one learns. I can empathize with the student having challenges and desperately wanting to learn.
You’re married to head instructor Jason Bates. Do you guys discuss teaching methods? Yes, we compare notes, especially when we come up with new, interesting problems or creative ways to teach something. We’re supportive of each other’s teaching styles even though they are slightly different.
What’s your favorite part of teaching? The energy from enthusiastic students, when a idea clicks or they’re having fun. Especially when it’s something they’ve put a lot of effort into learning.
What river did you learn to paddle? The first river I ever paddled was the Rio Claro in Chile. But the McKenzie River in Oregon was my learning stomping grounds, where I’ve swam every eddyline and hole and surfed every wave.
What do you like best about teaching on the South Fork of the American? The hydrology is fantastic for learning. I’ve taught in California, Oregon and overseas. The South Fork, particularly at flows under 2000 cfs, has the perfect combination of eddies, rocks, pools and flow. Some rivers have too much flow and too few features or the flow is too pushing for learning, or the river bed is too shallow. This river really has nice deep learning areas with good crisp features including: all sizes of eddies, tongues of current, waves, holes, boof rocks, and of course eddylines.
… I took the Safety and Rescue Course with Gigi and she did an awesome job… –Gabe Pettersen, July 2010