At Whatley Swim, one of the most important parts of being a great swim instructor has nothing to do with swimming and everything to do with connecting with our students. How can we build trust with them? Encourage them when they are scared or timid or feeling alone? How do we teach them in such a way that we set them up for success in other areas of their lives, too?

We teach our instructors how to connect holistically with their students by also training them holistically. For the second year in a row, we invited JoEllen Goldsberry to work with our instructors at our spring training to talk about enhancing the learning experience for our kiddos. JoEllen Goldsberry is a Licensed Professional Counselor in the state of Texas and is based in the Austin area. She has 16 years of experience in both the education and counseling fields. She formed JS Goldsberry & Associates in 2019 and now offers counseling, consulting, and coaching services.

With our instructors, JoEllen talked about child development (and the way COVID has impacted development in kids over the past 2+ years), learning preferences using the VARK model, and what it means to be neurodiverse and neurotypical. She talked to our instructors about what the three A’s can look like in our students: ADHD, anxiety, and autism, as well as what it might look like to teach a student with cerebral palsy or down’s syndrome.

JoEllen asked our instructors to consider when they had last tried something new, how that made them feel, and why the mindset they choose to have this summer with their students matters. Finally, JoEllen discussed calming strategies that our instructors can use with their students and ways to sidestep meltdowns: redirecting, validating how they feel, and the importance of trying to connect before we correct. We know that JoEllen’s knowledge is invaluable to our instructors, and we are excited to see it trickle down into the lives of our students not only this summer, but beyond!

If you or someone you know might be interested in JoEllen’s counseling, coaching, or consulting services, you can visit her website at or follow her on Instagram: @jsg_leadwell.

Translate »