Posted by: trish alexander | June 15, 2010

Why get certified?

I spent the past weekend in New York City with the most amazing group of skaters. They all are a part of the larger group of the Central Park Skate Patrol.  This NSP chapter has a skate school connected to it and they receive their students through their website and from the local retail store BLADES.  With only a few teachers to run the classes the Director of the school, Bill Harley, (see above in photo, in chair) who was my first Skate IA certified instructor after the company changed hands from Janet to myself, encouraged patrol members to get certified.

At the first meeting with the six candidates this weekend I asked them why they decided to take the certification. For many it was because they wanted to help out and teach at the NSP school. What their post-cert surveys stated were that they were surprised and delighted to leave with even more: The tools to truly teach and what corrections to make; the connection with each other (although they knew each other casually); their skating skills had improved exponentially (edging and mohawks were the most improved); a more thorough understand of the basic/foundation skills of skating and how they apply to all aspects of the various disciplines.

The crew with Bill Harley and Paul Ranking (in gray)
Mike G, Kevin, SB, Bill H (already certified),Paul Rankin (already certified),
John W, Dustin C and Bobby M.

While I have found the above list to be a fairly common occurrence even when I took my certification in 1996 and 1998 what was interesting to me was the toasts which occured afterwards.  I spoke to the group about the value a skate school (a teacher) can bring to the greater skating community. Their skate school is small but now that they have another 6 instructors (oh, all did pass) they can take it up to at least the next level. What is that?

As most of you know I am the director of Skate Journeys Skate School and I created the school because I wanted skaters to skate with and I love to learn as well as teach so it was a natural to me. What I’ve learned is that it’s not about the money, it’s about the impact you can have on people’s lives.  I can tell you a dozen stories of people who have told me that the school, the lessons, the staff or some other aspect really changed their lives. Really. Some just show up for a lesson and they receive value for their money and that is great, but some people want more and see what the school can truly offer.

When our students are invited to take the apprentice class we offer which is a prep course for the certification, I always ask them why they do it. There are always a number of reasons but at Skate Journeys the  number one reason is because they want to give back. They know all the teachers and staff are volunteers. They learned from the other teacher volunteers and they want to give back.  But I always tell them: be careful, you might get more than you give. And it’s true.

So here we have 6 new instructors from NYC, 7 from Washington DC, 7 more from Seattle and 2 from Miami and what we have is amazing. The 2010 graduating class is our new face. They are excited, delighted and motivated to build community.  By giving they will change their own lives.  By teaching they will build the greater skating community. By showing up they will be building the NSP.  Hmmm, whoever thought that my taking over SKATE IA was about running a skate company hasn’t been paying attention.

I’m telling you, they weren’t this close when we started!

The toast to the certification process which was made by my host (and  new instructor) Michael Tillman: Here’s to a life changing event. Everyone hollered Here! Here!

We change lives here folks. Do you?


  1. Hello, Trish!
    What a week end it was!
    2 full day of re-learning how to skate!
    26,5 miles of skating in the area of 30ft by 40 ft
    Getting to know my fellow CPSP patrollers and friends!
    Been credited with ability to do on 104mm what should be done on 80’s…
    I think that a full gratitude credit for the success of this class should be given to:
    – Trish Alexander, for been able to withstand typical New Yorker’s BS for 2 full days!
    – Bill Harley, for his amazing ability to be impartial and to provide practical analysis that helped!
    – Mike Tillman for been a great host!
    – Bob Matson, for his determination and courage: Bob’s skating skill skyrocketed during his 2 years with Empire Skate Club and CPSP!
    – All of us for just simply showing up there, giving each other support and doing it!

    Great job, my friends!


    Mike G

  2. Trish,

    I have to say that when I started skating, I never imagined my road would instructor certification would converge on a weekend like we had. In college, there were moments in my dorm basement where I never could have imagined I would be where I am today, with the people I have around me. It’s been a journey, a good one, and now we enter a new chapter. In the words of Optimus Prime, ‘Skate Instructors! Roll Out!!’

    Thank you Trish, Bill, and my fellow new instructors for the amazing experience.

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