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Name: Luke Pinion
Role (if any) at Wisconsin Skydiving Center: Mostly tandems and AFF these days. Historically I started as a packer nearly 18 years ago, then had a long stint manifesting for many seasons, as well as coaching and video.
Where Do You Currently Live?: New Berlin, WI
What kind of work do you do? How has your job been affected in light of COVID-19?
I am the Director of Student Services (district office administrator) for a public school district of almost 13,000 students. Like many, my day-to-day has been greatly affected as I am now working solely from home and all of our students are learning from a distance. I now run all department guidance, legal matters, and meetings for our school counselors, social workers, psychologists (my old role), and alternative educators via virtual means. Though not always easy, our district was particularly poised for virtual work as we have a huge IT department, are very tech-forward, every student has a district-issued iPad, and every staff member has an iPad and a MacBook Air. I also coordinate all of our school-based mental health services with our community partners. This was a huge shift as I had to work with our community agencies in order to ensure all contracted therapists were set up with district access/technology, linked to their school sites, and able to continue seeing their students for psychotherapy via virtual means. This was a huge priority for me in our first days of this transition. Lastly, I also do all high-level discipline (pre-expulsions and expulsion hearings) for student offenses. This has been a huge decrease, as you can imagine, since going virtual. Now we are working through new and unique student technology violations on a case-by-case basis.
What have you been doing to occupy your time during the quarantine?
Quality time with my fiance Phil, playing volleyball (“peppering”) with Phil in the backyard, going on hikes, home projects, yard work (when the weather cooperates), giving a lot of love/play/cuddles with our two dogs and cat, movies and TV shows, baking/cooking much more, attempting home workouts (emphasis on attempting), and anything that can either get me moving or outside. Oh, and certainly an increase in wine intake!
There have been many negatives related to the coronavirus. What have been the silver linings?
I am purposeful about finding the silver linings as part of my own self-care and sanity:
Has the coronavirus revealed things you once took for granted that you now appreciate?
I now realize I was taking for granted how much I enjoy and thrive off of interactions with people – face-to-face, in-person interactions. I never thought of myself as a full-blown extravert in any way but I certainly realize now how much enjoyment and fulfillment I get from spending time with others. This is true for colleagues/coworkers, family, friends, skydiving community, volleyball community, etc. I very much look forward to the time when we can all be together again. Also, I’m a big hugger so I have been missing that level of familiarity and comfort with others as well.
What are you most looking forward to doing (outside of skydiving of course) when you get on the other side of the quarantine?
Hanging out with friends and family first and foremost. Playing volleyball and enjoying the outdoors with those I love. Also, being able to enjoy restaurants, bars, parks, and public spaces again.
What’s your secret superpower that few people know about?
Oh jeez, this will require some thought. Why is it so difficult to talk about our strengths sometimes? I’m a very empathetic person and feel particularly attuned to how people are feeling at any given moment based on verbals, nonverbals, paraverbals, etc. This is probably why I became a psychologist. Reading people is something I’ve always done well. If I were to answer this question in a lighter manner…..what skydiver doesn’t want the superpower of being able to fly?!
What are one to three books that have greatly influenced your life?
I read a lot of fiction for my personal reading and most aren’t exactly influential (I love horror movies/books). I find they are a nice escape from reality and from the educational material I had to read for schooling and work. Regarding work, I read a lot of academic material, which has certainly influenced my practice both as a former psychologist and as an administrator. Some books that have stuck with me:
What is the most useful thing you own under $100?
This is a tough one! Given the current environment, it’s a toss-up between my coffee maker and my volleyball. When push comes to shove, coffee wins out as I can’t fathom a morning, or a world for that matter, without it.
What is an unusual habit or an absurd thing that you love?
This may not be so unusual for the midwest, but I love ranch…on everything. I swear sometimes I look down at my grocery cart and realize everything in there is something I can dip in ranch.