In this post we recognize Susan Davis, Instructor of Alpine Skiing, Snowboarding, and Telemark Skiing at the Snow Bowl, for her 25 years of Service to Middlebury. Susan tells us about her life outside of work, shares some memories of past colleagues, and gives some wonderful advice to new employees. Read on to learn more about Midd from Susan’s point of view.
What did you do prior to work at Middlebury College and where were you located?
I have lived in the Middlebury area most of my life with a variety of work experiences. Throughout my years at the Middlebury Snow Bowl I have also worked during the other seasons in Landscape Design Installation and Maintenance. I established my own company Creating Your Scene in 2001. Just before my work with Middlebury, I was a self-employed Site Technician designing single family sewer systems while also offering free-lance drafting, scale model and topographic survey services for area builders…and also beginning the enjoyable journey of parenting two boys. Before that I was with Phelps Engineering doing similar work. And before that I was teaching pottery classes at the Frog Hollow Craft Center on Mill Street in Middlebury during which time I also was at the Snow Bowl teaching skiing for a few years.
What job titles have you held while working at Middlebury?
In addition to being an Instructor of alpine skiing, snowboarding and telemark skiing at the Snow Bowl, I was also Assistant to the former Director, then became the Director of the Snow School and had that position for just over for ten years until recently returning to part time Instructing.
Take us back to your first year as an employee at the College. What were the most significant things happening in your life outside of work then?
Parenting two young boys, volunteering at the Weybridge Elementary School, finishing the building of a new home while exploring the landscape surrounding our new neighborhood.
What are the most significant things happening in your life outside of work now (that you’d like to share)?
Enjoying the grandchildren and learning to be patient with this new stage of my life…and trying to find the most meaningful way in which I am suited to engage in our democracy.
Have your interests/hobbies/athletic endeavors changed over the past 25 years? Have any of these been influenced by your work at the College or due to your association with others who work here?
I have always found the College connection to be a very enriching exchange whether through educational offerings (i.e. staff development classes, auditing other classes, attending lectures and performances) or engaging with the students who enrolled in the J term PE classes at the Bowl or those students who did some teaching of those classes for us. I feel I have experienced a healthy personal growth and expanded interests, hobbies and endeavors.
Many people change jobs/careers multiple times in their working life. Something must have kept you here for 25 years. Is it anything that you can put into words?
I grew up at the Snow Bowl. I have been skiing there since 1956…over 60 years! Due to the small scale of the operation I was friends with most of the personnel since those first years. Many of their children or other relatives are now employed there. The Snow Bowl always had an atmosphere of looking out for everyone who was there whether first time guests or long term patrons. I have explored that terrain from border to border over all those years through all the seasons. I was recently reminiscing with a school friend that I had not seen for 20 years or so and one of the first memories we shared was camping out in the old cabin that used to be at the top of Worth Mountain at the Bowl. It is more than a place that is family friendly… for me it is family… it is home.
What are your plans for the next 25 years?
Continuing to enjoy my two sons and their families…currently one granddaughter in Montana with whom I ski during her March school vacation and a grandson just 6 months with so many opportunities yet to explore. Hoping to continue landscaping especially the design phase and continue sharing my passion for all those marvelous sensations sliding around and exploring the winter wonderland at the Snow Bowl …and helping other people find their comfort level with exploring and embracing winter in Vermont while building balancing skills that not only add confidence and courage but also a healthier body.
Do you have a favorite place on campus?
The Ripton ‘campus’ at Breadloaf and the Hancock ‘campus’ at the Snow Bowl …not sure about main campus.
Is there any person on campus (or retiree, former employer) that mentored you, or you feel helped you grow into your job, grow to enjoy your work and your time at the College?
The Managers starting with Ralph Myhre, then Howard Kelton and followed by Peter Mackey all modeled a very patient and respectful approach, the former Director Dwight Dunning had an inspiring ‘can-do’ … ‘aim high’…’think big’ approach which introduced me to some very exciting adventures and revealed my potential in many ways… also the value of persistence.
If you could give one piece of advice to a new employee at Middlebury, what would it be?
Take advantage of or at least get familiar with all the myriad opportunities both on and off campus and be sure to at least visit the Snow Bowl in Hancock. It offers great hiking (on a clear day you can view Main Campus and the Adirondacks from the top of Worth Mountain) and picnicking in the summer, chairlift rides during fall foliage and during most winter months has a free shuttle service to the Starr Shelter where there is a full snack bar of delicious food and drink both cold and hot. The Snow Bowl is the third oldest ski area in Vermont and has lots of history of participants in the Olympics and other fun facts. The Manager has some great old photos on file and many more can be found in the Archives at Davis Library on campus. The area is full of ongoing displays of flora and fauna as well as rocks exposing the geology …another rich history of the glacial and plate tectonic activity. So even if you are not interested in trying winter sports it has many other outing opportunities.