Huge congrats to Carla Gregor that has been selected by our team as our April 2015 Instructor of the month. We asked Carla a few questions so she can tell us a bit more about herself, her experience as swim instructors and share some tips and tricks to teach great swim lessons. Here is what she said.
Hi Carla, please tell us a bit more about yourself
I grew up in Ohio with a mother who was a swimming instructor so I have been in the water since I could walk. When I was 12 years old, my mother had me take Water Safety Aid with the American Red Cross and I started assisting in teaching swimming lessons to all ages including handicapped. I swam competitive for 7 years and was 2nd place backstroke in the State of Ohio in high school. I moved to Virginia at the age of 18 years old by myself and obtained my Water Safety Instructor certificate. I taught lifesaving classes for 7 years, water aerobics and again all ages including mommy and me classes. At the age of 26, I retired from teaching. I am a legal secretary full time with over 34 years in law firms. I coached women runners for 14 years and have always been active with all types of sports. Last Summer I started teaching swimming lessons again and obtained my Water Safety Instructor certificate. I presently am in an online study program to get my Adapted Instructor certificate.
Why did you decide to work for Sunsational Swim School?
Last Summer I decided to try my hand at teaching swimming lessons again and saw an ad on Craigslist from Sunsational Swim School.
What do you like the most about teaching children and adults how to swim?
I absolute LOVE teaching fearful beginners to swim. I love watching them get so excited with each step of learning and achieving their goals. I also love the challenge of experimenting with new ways of teaching since every individual is different.
What is your best experience as a swim instructor?
I had a 18 year old last Summer who had a fear of the water to where the first two lessons we just sat there on the steps of the pool splashing water on our legs and arms. By the twelfth lesson, she was jumping into the deep end and swimming across the pool to the shallow end.
Also after being gone from teaching swimming to children for 30 years, it was great to get feedback from parents like the following:
You really have a gift with children, and Vikram and Viraj enjoyed your lesson. Vikram especially is looking forward to seeing you on Tuesday.
I just wanted to thank you for yesterday! I can already tell that Ava and Nate are going to love learning and playing with you each week. Your patience, kindness and knowledge makes you a truly superb teacher- thank you again and we look forward to our next lesson!
What is your funniest experience as a swim instructor?
Last Summer I had a 3 1/2 year old who didn’t do anything for another instructor in twelve lessons. When I arrived for the first lesson, the mom took one look at me (I guess since I am 57 years old) and asked what my experience was and questioned me up and down. After that first lesson with her daughter, the mom said “OMG you have more energy than anyone I know and you got her to do more for you then she did with the younger instructor in twelve lessons.” This same little girl would not kick in the water or even try an arm stroke. After learning she loved Little Mermaid and wanted to swim like a mermaid, I bought a mermaid fin to put on her and she took off kicking … it was so funny. I also used a toy dog in the water to show her how dogs dig with their paws and then she started to use her arms!
Do you have a little secret trick to overcome difficulties while teaching students?
On that first phone conversation with the parents, I always ask what their children enjoy and as much information about that child as I can get. When I find out a child loves ballerinas, sharks, mermaids, Barbie, power rangers or what, I always go out and purchase that item to use in my teaching and then at the end of their lessons I always give them that toy or toys. If a child is into songs, I make sure I learn whatever songs they love and sing with them in the water to get them to do things. I have also gone as far as purchasing books that are age appropriate, learning the story and then creating that story in the water with them. While that child is busy hunting elephants they don’t realize they are doing certain aquatic skills in the water. Last Summer I had a 64 year old Asian woman. During our lessons, I learned that all she really wanted to do was to learn to swim the frog stroke (aka breaststroke) like the other Asian women do in her swim club. I really try to get to know my student and what makes them happy and use that in their lessons!
What recommendations do you generally give to parents once you are done with swim lessons?
After each lesson, I tell the parent what they can do at home to help me in my classes with their children. Some of those things are while they are taking their bath, practice having them put their face in the water or lay their head back in the water. Last Summer I told a set of parents that every time their daughter would get down off their chair to have her automatically turn around and put her hands on the chair … this helped me get her to do that in the water after jumping in the water to turn around and grab the side of the wall!
When they are done with their series of lessons, I always follow up telling the parents what the next skills their children are ready to learn to progress further. I then always follow up with an email about where the child is now and what their goals are and that I hope they choose Sunsational Swim School in the future and ask for me. I always make myself available to the parent since day one via email and cell phone should they have any questions or concerns!
What is your favorite past time outside of swim instruction?
Teaching inline skating