Ski Academy gets new principal
J.T.MCVEIGH/ENTERPRISE-BULLETIN Tobin Walsh has been named the new principal for the National Ski Academy. The school has been promoting the marriage of academics and elite ski racing in Collingwood for more than 30 years.
While Collingwood residents are suffering through a heat wave, students from Collingwood’s National Ski Academy (NSA) are on a glacier in Switzerland getting some practical training in before school starts.
When they do return to Collingwood they’ll meet their new principal, Tobin Walsh.
Walsh will be leading Canada’s only ski academy that offers ski race training and academics in equal measure. Founder Jurg Gfeller started the school to provide elite ski racers with an opportunity to train during the ski year but also integrate academics to give students a better opportunity to compete at higher levels of racing.
Walsh comes from the Toronto District Catholic School Board and relishes the opportunity to work with elite athletes.
“We celebrated our 30th year last year,” said Walsh. “Jurg, like many people in Collingwood, had a real entrepreneurial spirit which is something we are trying to capture at the NSA.”
Gfeller’s plan was that students would focus on three areas: fitness, academics and ski racing and those three areas are integrated throughout the curriculum. Students begin school in mid-August and go until June.
The academy became a credit-granting institution in 2010.
“The students receive the same amount of academics they would at a high school, but the hours would be different. Instead of a 75-minute period, our students may have two hour-and-half blocks. Each student is on an individualized academic plan geared for what they would like to do in post-secondary,” says Walsh. “It’s interesting. The kids we get here are very motivated, they are goal-oriented, they are strong athletes and we find that the focus that they bring to their athletics, they bring over to academics.”
Although she doesn’t officially take over the position until January, Walsh already has an idea what she would like to bring to the school.
“One of the things that I would like to bring to the NSA is a greater focus on the development of transferrable skills, particularly in the area of 21st-century learning,” says Walsh. “It is so difficult to imagine but we are preparing these students for jobs that don’t even exist yet. I believe that it is through those transferrable skills.”
Walsh’s work with the Toronto board involved helping to develop and create a path for students to make next steps after high school.