Jeff Hirschman: SDI Instructor Trainer Ambassador

Hi, I’m Jeff Hirschman. I’m honored to be a part of the SDI Instructor Ambassador Program. I’m from Long Island, New York where I own QC SCUBA. I’ve been diving since the late 1980’s and I’ve been an SDI member since its inception in 1998 (and TDI since its inception in 1994)..

What was the first dive you did and how did it influence you to start a career in the diving industry?

My first dive was in Sheepshead Bay, located in Brooklyn, NY, with a group of friends who were NYFD. Certification dives at Beach 8 in Far Rockaway, NY followed shortly thereafter. I was hooked! Wrecks, Wrecks, and more Wrecks whenever possible – with some occasional beautiful reefs sprinkled in during our Queens College annual warm water destination trip! No puddle too big or too small, I was ready to DIVE IT!

What do you believe is the most important trait of a professional educator and why?

A professional educator needs to be patient and willing and able to adapt his or her teaching style to accommodate individuals with different learning modalities. Differentiated instruction is key.

Armed with the realization that I wanted to TEACH diving, I looked to amass as much knowledge as possible at the onset. I made it a point to seek out and study from the best of the best (pre-google, et al). I studied with:

  • Dr. H. Harry Hoehn at Queens College who remains my mentor to this day. Switching my major from Computer Science to Physical Education with a double minor in Secondary Education and BALA was an obvious choice.
  • Dr. Alex Brylske (and Barbara DeClerque) – the man who “wrote the book.”
  • Robert Raimo – Dive store owner and Instructor trainer.
  • Jarrod Jablonski (and Larry Green) – the best cave instructor(s) to help me establish better styles of teaching Technical Diving back in the Northeast (and I did fall in love w/ u/w caves).
  • Special Agent Wexler – to establish the best Public Safety diving skills.

Although the list goes on and on, my philosophy is that education is a lifelong journey that shapes us into the best divers and dive educators we can be.

What is your favorite SDI class to teach and why?

I enjoy teaching ALL SCUBA related classes, Public Safety, Technical, and Recreational; however, my favorite class is the “SCUBA Discovery” and/or Open Water program where I get to introduce new divers to the 80% of our planet that most never get to see! The OMG! look when taking their 1st breath under water is what gets my blood pumping more than anything else!!

What is a bucket list dive you still have?

Freediving the Great Barrier reef.

What is one bit of advice you would give to a perspective Instructor candidate about to embark on becoming an SDI Instructor?

Study hard, learn from the best, and push yourself to be the best instructor possible; share your passion for the world’s oceans with your own students.