Rocky Mountain Pro Drivers - Excellence In Education
Published in Kootenay Business Magazine, January 2009
Gifted educators – teachers who know their material, have the tools and techniques to teach a wide variety of students, and care enough to make sure that every student excels – are a bit of a rarity. Finding one at a professional driving school is nothing short of a surprise. But Rocky Korchinski, owner and chief instructor of Cranbrook’s Rocky Mountain Pro Drivers, Inc., fits the bill. Strange indeed, since his own schooling officially stopped at grade 10.
Rocky Mountain Pro Drivers has been training students for class 1, 3, and 4 driving careers since 2003, and doing it with uncommon care and attention to teaching methodology and detail. Classes consist of air brakes training, truck theory, one-on-one lessons in the appropriate vehicle, and advanced mountain training, which is highly recommended given BC’s abundant steep roads. Pro Drivers’ goal is not to help people pass their commercial road test. “The road test is the easiest two hours you’ll ever spend in my equipment,” says Rocky. “We train you to pass your employer’s road test, which is much more stressful. We train drivers for real life.”
Rocky made his way into the trucking industry soon after high school, amassing over a million miles of driving experience before being sidelined by an arm injury. He retrained as a software technician. All this time he was helping and supporting his former wife as she earned a Bachelor’s degree and then a Master’s in education. He was also listening, sitting in on classes, and discussing education theory with her. In his own job he taught people how to use their computers, and began to apply some of what he was learning.
Eventually his old arm injury threatened to end his second career. One day he took his daughter out for a driving lesson, and the revelation for his third career hit him. Two months later he was training to be a professional driving instructor. In 2003 he took ownership of Pro Drivers in Cranbrook.
“Communication is my most important tool,” Rocky says. Knowing how to get important information across to many types of student is key. Listening is just as vital. “I know how much students have learned by the questions they ask, much more than by the answers they give.” He will explain a point, re-explain, demonstrate – whatever it takes until each student fully understands the lesson.
Rocky knows how to manage the stress of intensive learning. He starts each student off by explaining the learning curves of confidence, doubt, and terror that each and every student goes through in the course. Knowing about the ups and downs doesn’t prevent them – it prevents them from getting in the way. The course, and the in-truck teaching, is designed to be stressful, and to push the student’s capabilities beyond what they think they can do, without truly overloading them. This requires a knowledgeable and attentive instructor.
The focus at Pro Drivers is on the student, says Rocky. “Take care of the student first, listen to them, and everything else takes care of itself.” It’s a philosophy that seems to be working. Transportation employers regularly come to Rocky looking for new drivers, and the school’s pass and placement rates are impressive. Pro Drivers now has three instructors, and business is brisk. Graduates work in commercial operations throughout BC and Alberta.