Education Task Force Highlight: Brian Donovan

The Education Task Force Highlight Series spotlights education leaders working to create new Certification Standards, education resources, and communication strategies that will benefit all members.

In this highlight, we sit down with Snowboard Task Force member Brian Donovan.

What task force are you on?  

I’m on the Snowboard Task Force. I also sit in on some of the Freestyle Task Force meetings to share what the Snowboard Task Force is working on.

What’s your current snowsports job title? 

  • Director of Skier Services at Mount Snow Resort, Vermont
  • AASI Eastern Division Advisor for Educational Programs
  • AASI Eastern Division Examiner

Share a brief bio of your professional snowsports instruction history.

I started teaching snowboarding full-time at Peek’n Peak Resort in Western New York State in 2005. I attained my Snowboard Level I certification in 2006, my Level II in 2008, and my Level II in 2010.

In 2009, I accepted the role of Assistant Ski and Ride School Director at Peek’n Peak. In 2012, I was promoted to the Director of the Ski and Ride School. This same year, I was invited to the PSIA-AASI National Team Selection, but I broke my back and was unable to participate.

I started working as the AASI Eastern Division Advisor for Educational Programs in 2014, and started volunteering on the Snowboard Task Force. This same year, I joined the team at Mount Snow Resort in Vermont as the Training Manager for the Ski and Ride School. I was promoted to the Skiing and Riding Services Manager in 2016 and eventually the Director of Skiing and Riding Services in 2017.

I also have my Freestyle Specialist 1 and Children’s Specialist 2 credentials and am participating in Team Selection this spring.

What is your current role on the task force?

I’m a content creator, editor extraordinaire, and occasional presenter and conveyor of ideas. I like to think that I help the Snowboard Task Force stay on target and I provide an occasional good idea from time to time.

What are the task force’s main goals and how are you working to accomplish them?

  • Having a deliverable Snowboard Performance Guide for the 2020-2021 season.
  • Helping introduce the Certification Standards and Performance Guide in the 2021-22 season.
  • Work with the snowboard educational staff and examiners from the eight divisions during the 2020-21 season to understand, implement, train to, and test to the Certification Standards.
  • Implement the Certification Standards, Performance Guide, and supporting tools for the 2021-22 winter.

How will this benefit members? 

  • Consistency from division to division.
  • Consistency from examiner to examiner.
  • A tool to help examiners test to the Certification Standards.
  • A universal expectation of what educational and certification events look like and the content the events cover.
  • A clear picture of what is expected and required at different levels of certification through the Learning Outcomes and experiences, as well as the assessment criteria and activities.
  • An organized pathway for continued education for instructors.
  • An educational system that is focused on the journey to become a better instructor as opposed to a system focused solely on the certification as the end goal.

Certification will continue to give instructors the credibility that they possesses certain skillsets, but the actual certification will pivot to being a by-product of the educational experiences and learning that a member achieves along the journey.

Why is it important to you to work for the benefit of other members?

I want to give members clear and concise tools that will help them with their educational journey. I want to pull the curtains back on what will be expected from them at certification exams, and I want to give them the tools to be successful as they improve as instructors.

I also want to provide content that meets different learning preferences and styles so that we have written content and manuals for digesting information, video content for visual understanding of the information, e-learning courses for confirmation of learning, and on-snow clinics for application, learning, and assessment.  All of these will combine to create an all-immersive learning experience for our members and give them tools to set them up for success.

What’s the fun factor? 

I’m a huge snowboard nerd! I love the concept of making sure that we’re creating content that is fun to participate in, is clear and simple to understand, and is relevant to what our members need to be able to understand and do so they can provide amazing lessons for students. I want all of our members to have the tools at their fingertips so they’re never out in a lesson stumped by what to do with their students, how to help their students, or how to give their students the skills to solve whatever problem they are struggling with in their snowboard journeys.

Instructors are problem solvers. Helping make the problem solving easier for the next generation of instructors is fun. Making it easier for instructors to have success with their students, learn from other’s experiences, and to stoke more people out on snowboarding…well that’s the good stuff.

Best part of being an instructor?

Snowboarding is a silly sport when you think about it. Let’s take a big piece of wood with a slippery bottom, let’s go to the top of a really slippery hill in frigid temperatures with uncomfortable weather conditions, let’s rig up some way to attach both feet to this piece of wood and stand on it, and then let’s try to ride this wild piece of gear all the way to the bottom of this slippery, wet, and cold mountain…But, I absolutely LOVE this sport.

I love everything about it. And the best part about being an instructor is giving students the tools to fall in love with this silly sport as well. And to use all of my experiences and knowledge to help make my students’ learning curve a little easier so they can get to the exciting parts of the sport with less bumps and bruises, with less frustrations, and with more ease! That’s the best part about being an instructor.