Education Coordinator - Allison White
Teaching and bridge have coincided in Allison’s life for a long time. She started playing duplicate bridge while living in the Blue Ridge Mountains, but her first playing experiences go back to third grade when she attended the elementary school where her mother was teaching. Allison’s lunch period coincided with that of her mother and two other bridge-playing teachers, so they called upon her to become their fourth at the lunchtime game. Three years later, in sixth grade, Allison served as a teacher’s assistant and taught mini-lessons to the first graders on rainy days when they couldn’t go out to the playground for after-lunch recess. “That may have been the launch of my career in teaching,” she muses.
Her mid-life years were spent raising a family, teaching high school English, becoming a high school principal and subsequently district superintendent. Upon retiring, she and her husband Alan moved south to establish Lightwood Mountain Pottery, and it was there that she was introduced to duplicate bridge and joined a group of friends to help establish the Blue Ridge Bridge Club. Almost everyone in the group had played bridge in their earlier days, but bridge had changed dramatically since that time. It soon became apparent that teaching and learning were at the heart of the game and were incredibly important.
That realization has been the foundation for Allison’s commitment to continuing to learn herself and to help teach others. After moving to Petoskey and becoming an ACBL-certified bridge teacher, she and a cadre of players began to expand the teaching and learning opportunities at the Bridge Center, helping players new to the game as well as experienced players challenge themselves by continuing to study and by applying their learning as they play the game.
“Bridge is an amazing game,” she says with a smile. “Not only does it provide a mental challenge, it provides the opportunity for us to reach out to each other, form new friendships and share new experiences. Teaching is hard, and sometimes people will shake their head and say, ‘You have to love it in order to teach.’ But I have always thought that the secret is not to love teaching or the subject matter – and both of those are important – but the most important thing is to love your students.”