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Competence and Compassion: Open Sky Admissions Team

Tere Snodgrass | Admissions and Professional Relations Director

Featured Team Members: Tere Snodgrass,

An interview with Open Sky Admissions & Professional Relations Director, Tere Snodgrass

The Open Sky Admissions Team utilizes their extensive experience to support families in crisis. This dynamic team of four is dedicated to assisting prospective parents, students, and professionals with care and compassion as they navigate the admissions process. We recently sat down with Admissions & Professional Relations Director, Tere Snodgrass to learn more about the Admissions Team and how their collective experience benefits families in crisis.

Open Sky Admissions Team: Tanya Dalebout, Tere Snodgrass, Shahara Davis, Susanna Shakespeare
From left to right: Admissions Counselor, Tanya Dalebout; Admissions & Professional Development Director, Tere Snodgrass; Assistant Admissions Director, Shahara Davis; and Associate Admissions Director, Susanna Shakespeare.

Q: As you think about the Admissions Team at Open Sky, what stands out to you?

A: First and foremost, experience. Collectively, the Open Sky Admissions Team has over 50 years of combined admissions experience in wilderness therapy. Beyond that, each of us has additional wilderness or therapeutic experience from other roles. This level of experience really enhances and enriches our ability to support families and referring professionals.

Assistant Admissions Director, Shahara Davis, started out in wilderness therapy in 2000 as a transporter before moving into admissions in 2003. Associate Admissions Director, Susanna Shakespeare, worked in admissions at a therapeutic boarding school for several years prior to joining the Open Sky Admissions Team in 2015. Admissions Counselor, Tanya Dalebout, celebrated ten years with Open Sky last January. During those ten years, she worked in both our Family Services and Medical departments before joining the Admissions Team. I’ve been working in admissions and marketing for wilderness and residential programs for 27 years now.


Q: Why is it important for the Open Sky Admissions Team to have such depth and variety of experience?

A: Our experience allows us to better understand how the program works as a whole, rather than as separate departments. For example, Shahara’s experience in transport gives parents better insight into what the transport process will look like. Tanya’s experience at Open Sky is critical to providing an understanding of day-to-day life in the field, Family Services, and our clinical approach. This is a huge asset when talking to prospective students and families. Susanna and I have experience that allows us to draw from a broad understanding of the field, transition, and the next steps after Open Sky.

We are a close-knit team. We are in constant communication, sharing our knowledge and the specific experience each of us holds for the greater benefit of the team, and most importantly, the families with whom we work.

This varying depth of experience allows us to bring different aspects of the program together. It gives families and referring professionals a comprehensive understanding of the process and our program. Together, we work seamlessly to provide families with information and the best possible care and service.

Q: What are the strengths of the Open Sky Admissions Team?

A: Each of us is skilled at, and committed to, supporting families in crisis. We strive to be that calm voice of support throughout what we know can be a very difficult time for parents. Some families just want the hard facts and data. Others have many questions, fears, or concerns. Some families have complex family dynamics. Each of us has the capacity to meet families where they are at, which allows us to best address their specific needs and concerns. We are always patient, flexible, and understanding so that we can offer support in the way that works best for each family’s unique situation. 

As a team, and as individuals, we truly care. We value communication and are always very aware of each other’s cases so we can help. Our dedication, teamwork, and documentation systems allow us to provide an exceptional level of service. This is crucial to supporting families and professionals in the most effective, efficient, and caring way possible.


Q: What is the top priority during the Open Sky admissions process?

A: Safety is the top priority for every department at Open Sky. This begins with the admissions process. The most important thing for us to consider is if Open Sky is the right fit for a prospective student. We must always think about what is in the best interest of the young adult or adolescent, and the family. We make admissions decisions based on a comprehensive, multi-departmental review of each potential case. We intentionally and thoroughly review all of the information that parents and referring professionals provide. Once a decision is made, we make sure that parents and professionals understand the basis for this acceptance or denial.

Q: How does the Open Sky Admissions Team demonstrate care, guidance, and support?

A: Most importantly, we make ourselves available to families 24/7. We return calls as quickly as possible because we know that families are often reaching out to us in the midst of crisis. For parents, researching different options and navigating the admissions and enrollment process can be overwhelming. Tanya Dalebout works onsite in our Durango office and is there to meet and welcome each student and family on arrival day, offering support and guidance throughout the process. It is our job (and honor) to support families and ensure that the process unfolds as smoothly as possible.

October 29th, 2018

Tere Snodgrass | Admissions and Professional Relations Director