Director of Instructor Development
My ISR Story:
In October of 2007, my father sent me a video of the toddler, in the blue cotton jumper, that falls into the water, rolls back to float, and maintains his float for five minutes, fully clothed. I was absolutely amazed that a 14-month-old child could save himself from drowning, in regular clothes, a real-life situation. Having a backyard pond and a 2-year-old that couldn’t swim led me directly to a child self-rescue website. At the time, I noticed there were no self-rescue instructors in Michigan and the nearest Instructor was located in Toledo, OH. I came to the realization that I would not be able to enroll my 2-year-old daughter, Merlot, into the aquatic survival lesson due to the three-hour drive each way. Seeing a need for this important program in Michigan, I began to research becoming a self-rescue instructor. In April of 2008, I became the first Certified ISR Instructor in Michigan.
During my drowning prevention journey since I started in 2008, I’ve learned that drowning is the leading cause of death for children under the age of five. I’ve also learned that most drownings are preventable by empowering the child to know what to do if they reach the water alone. Self-rescue skills, taught to a child by a trained aquatics behavioral specialist, save lives!
In May of 2012, I became a Master Instructor with ISR. This allowed me to teach other instructors thus reaching more children. I have trained over 30 instructors and over 2,000 children. In January of 2016, I trained my first two Team Instructors and have had five Team Instructors over the years to work in the Grand Rapids, MI area and two more to work in the Los Angeles, CA area to reach more young lives before they reach the water alone. My passion is to help new self-rescue instructors improve their in-water teaching ability. In 2022 I took on a full time position with the CAST Water Safety Foundation as their Director of Instructor Development and this allows me to help others learn to fulfill their passion and mission to create Safer Swimmers Sooner.
I was born and raised in a small town outside of Pittsburgh, PA. I graduated from Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management in December of 1992 and started working for Wal-Mart as a Manager Trainee in January of 1993. I worked my way up to Store Manger and stayed with Wal-Mart for 11 ½ years. In 2004 I started my own retail merchandising company, Platinum Service, LLC and ran that for 17 years. In 2008 I started my journey as a self-rescue instructor outlined above.
I have two amazing daughters. Bearenger, age 21 @bearenger who currently lives in Hawaii and does social media marketing for a living. Merlot, age 17, lives in Michigan and is an honors student and a third degree black belt in Taekwondo.
In 2022, I moved to Chicago and occasionally travel to California and Colorado to teach self-rescue lessons.