Mountain Mentor of the month: Gail Shears
What is your background?
I am a New England gal who received an undergraduate degree from the University of Denver and fell in love with the West. I spent my adult life as a middle school science teacher in the Rochester, New York, area and moved to Summit County in 2008 right after I retired. I am a lifelong skier, work at Copper in the winter as a lead ambassador for the Copper Mountain Resort Ambassadors, am a stained glass artist at the Art Gallery at Keystone Lake, am the president of the Board of Directors for the Friends of the Dillon Ranger District and enjoy being a Mountain Mentor. My daughter Kim and her husband live in Boston.
What led you to become a Mentor?
Becoming a Mountain Mentor was a natural for me. I’ve always enjoyed kids and ran the sixth-grade ski club at my school district. After being retired for several years, I felt it was time to be around kids again.
What do you enjoy most about being a Mentor?
Being a Mentor gives me a fresh perspective on the world around me. Julissa has a lot of energy and enthusiasm for most everything and without her, there are a lot of things I would have missed out on. We’ve gone skating, swimming, skied in the trees and done the go-carts at Copper — all things that I probably would not have considered trying. Her family has also been very welcoming.
How does mentoring fit into your life?
Mentoring is easy to include in my lifestyle. We try to plan ahead for the following week when we meet, because sometimes phone calls can be tricky due to language issues. Jesse is always great about helping make things happen. We generally meet once a week, but if other things come up, we just pick up where we left off. I watch for special opportunities in the Summit Daily, head to the library or animal shelter, or find something that Julissa wants to do. We even went to see Whole Foods by going around in an electric cart.
What is a favorite activity you have done as a Mentor?
Julissa and I agree that skiing together is our favorite activity. Her ski lessons through Mountain Mentors have been great for building her skills. We also love skating, making cookies, building gingerbread houses, tubing, going to the movies, swimming, Mountain Mentor activities, the Breck alpine slide, etc. Actually we enjoy it all!
Do you have advice for someone who is considering becoming a Mentor?
My advice to anyone applying to be a Mentor is that you don’t need to be incredibly clever or need to spend a lot of money, just be present. Kids need someone to pay attention to them as an individual. I’ve also found that like most of life, you get a lot more than you expect if you put a lot of yourself into it.
What Julissa has to say about her Mentor
“I love it because we both like to ski a lot in the winter and we get to go kayaking sometimes in the summer. We also both like cats and spending time with them and each other.”
What Julissa’s mom, Maria, has to say about the program
“Thank you Gail! You are a great mentor to our daughter. We are very pleased, and you have also helped Julissa advance greatly with her reading.”
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