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Q& A With AMTA Jerome Perlinski Teacher of the Year Tracie Livermore

Tracie Livermore of the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine was named the 2014 AMTA Jerome Perlinski Teacher of the Year. In the words of one of Tracie's former students, “Tracie is truly a gifted teacher, who genuinely cares about the health and well-being of her students long past the classroom ... She is the voice for so many new and aspiring students.” 

Find out how Tracie discovered her passion for teaching and her tricks for keeping students engaged.

Remember, nominations for the AMTA 2015 Jerome Perlinski Teacher of the Year Award are due by December 12! Submit your nomination »

How did you first get involved in the massage therapy profession?

I usually answer this question with "because I love pancakes." On Sunday mornings when I would go to wake up my mom, she would say,“I’ll make you pancakes if you rub my back."  After studying both physical therapy then graphic design in college, I decided that I wanted to pursue my dream of becoming an actress, but I needed a flexible form of income to support me through it. By then, massage schools had caught up with me. I enrolled in a program and discovered that massage was my true calling. Here I am, 24 years later!

What inspired you to teach?

I have always wanted to teach, but after studying graphic design, acting and massage, I wasn't ready to go back and get credentials for public school teaching. I had a day job in administration at Pacific College of Oriental Medicine while I was developing my massage business.  I needed more time to support my business eventually, and I was forced to decided between my massage business and my administrative job. When I gave notice at the college to leave my admin job, I was offered a job teaching the business class in the massage program. I followed the opportunity and fell in love with teaching.

How do you keep students engaged?

Humor! I think my acting training (I studied with a private coach before deciding to go for the Masters) helps me keep my students entertained. I also have a lot of passion for massage and teaching. That comes through to my students.

What are some of the differences between massage therapy students and other adult learners?

Most of us are tactile by nature, or we wouldn't want to be massage therapists. Hence, there is a greater number of kinesthetic learners in our student population. We have to be sure to appeal to that while teaching all subjects, including lecture classes. It is harder—and I believe impossible—to teach a full massage program online.

The population of massage students, like the field in general, is really varied. We don't have an average personality type that studies this work. We have students with interests that vary in perspectives and environments in which they will choose to work. Some may end up in a spa setting, others will work in a medical clinic, and many will build a private practice. The differences keep me on my toes! Not only do I have to teach to all the senses, I must teach to differing personalities as well.

How has AMTA impacted your career?

I became a member of AMTA when I was a student. AMTA has always been there to cheer me on with everything from malpractice insurance to practice building ideas (which help me in private practice and with my business class). The first National Convention that I attended was to receive my award and it surely will not be my last. The support and feeling of massage therapist camaraderie was amazing. I feel that AMTA is not just a professional organization, but more like a "massage family."

Know an exceptional teacher? Nominations are open until December 12 for the AMTA 2015 Jerome Perlinski Teacher of the Year Award. Submit your nomination »

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"The support I’ve received at the various levels of my career has been key
in helping me get to the place I am today."

Lee S., AMTA member since 1995

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