Ellie M. Nickel, West Fargo
I am originally from the Minot area and now live in West Fargo now with my husband and daughter. My parents still live close to Minot and for the last three summers my daughter Ava, who is now 8 years old, has gone to Minot for three weeks each summer and stayed with her grandparents so that she can participate in swimming lessons. You may ask why send my daughter to Minot for swimming lessons when there obviously plenty of opportunities for her to participate in this activity in Fargo? I say this with all honesty, Ava is the only kid I know that had participated in seven sessions of swimming lessons and never gotten her hair wet. She has always had a fear of being under water. Ava had a difficult time trusting the instructors when they told her that she could do what they were asking her to do.
This situation is what brought my mother to mention Patrice Mitchell, a teacher at Jim Hill Elementary and rock star swim instructor. After Ava's first three week session with Patrice as her instructor she was a different kid. Ava loved the water, jumping into the pool and swimming to the bottom to pick up pennies at Patrice's request. Her dad and I were amazed when we saw her excited to get in the water. These were things that she never would have done pervious to spending time with Patrice. I didn't realize it when the lessons began, but the time that my daughter had with Patrice was about so much more the learning to swim.
The goal of getting Ava comfortable in the water had most definitely been accomplished, Ava now even swims in the lake that her grandparents live at. But even more importantly Patrice help my daughter to experience the pride that goes into to accomplishing something and finding the courage to push yourself to do something that you never thought you could do. Patrice helped Ava gain a confidence that no one had ever been able to do. This is a special gift that Patrice has, the ability to teach and be respected while pushing kids to step out of their comfort zones to accomplish great things. From the bottom of my heart, I thank Patrice for the many wonderful gifts she has given my daughter. Lucky are the kids that get to have this great educator, coach, mentor and friend as part of their lives.