“I learned a lot about myself and my leadership style. But most importantly the people I met have inspired me to go on and continue to do great things with my life.” – Artist and former SnowSchool educator Nick Kiriazis

After graduating college with a degree biology Nick Kiriazis took some time to ponder his options and spent a few months volunteering as a SnowSchool leader at Bogus Basin SnowSchool.  In the essay excerpts below (circa2011) Nick reflects on his experience at SnowSchool and how it shaped his ideas about his path moving forward in life.  Now, years later, Nick is a celebrated artist and former high school science department director.  His handmade wooden maps are a reflection of his passion for the outdoors.  As way of giving back to the programs, proceeds from the purchase of his amazing map of Lake Tahoe will benefit WWA SnowSchool.

Photo by Nick Kiriazis

“It’s really difficult to put into words how and why SnowSchool was such a great experience.  I guess it was the context of each incredible moment that made its impression on me and not the moment itself… Remembering how I felt after a day working at SnowSchool instantly brings a smile to my face and a warm feeling to my heart. I felt like every day I went to work I gave everything within my power to make a difference in the life of a student. I tried everything to ensure that each student had an experience that they’ve never had before, and wouldn’t forget for the rest of their lives. If you want to achieve great things, set high goals right? Working with kids almost every day made it impossible for me to not give them everything I had. In addition to helping the students, I tried to change myself for the better as well. Figuring out that I needed to improve my life would only get me half way there. The other half was comprised of the learning, trying, succeeding, failing, and experiencing necessary to improve myself. I encountered that all at SnowSchool.”

Nick and his wife Lori

“Working as a full-time SnowSchool volunteer these past few months has been everything I could ever hope a job would be. Moving out west was a leap of faith, and my experiences at SnowSchool provided me with the necessary elements to help me spread my wings. Every incredible day spent on the mountain was filled with equally incredible experiences for not only myself, but for the students I had the pleasure of working with. I truly believe that SnowSchool has molded me into a more effective leader, a more patient and creative mentor, and has allowed me to become fully aware of what I feel is important. This wonderful program has shown me that every child should have the opportunity to be outside, and even more importantly, should have the experience of exploring something completely new and exciting to them. As time goes on, one can observe our natural world fading away and out of our grasp quicker than we can understand how and why. We’re losing land, wildlife, and natural resources right before our eyes. However, I believe that inside every child lies the ability to imagine and dream for a flawless world. As long as programs like SnowSchool exist to help stimulate that excitement and curiosity, I think we have the first necessary step toward ensuring our world stays as wonderful and unspoiled as it should be, just like we dreamt it would be when we were kids.” – Nick Kiriazis