Standing near the Iwo Jima Memorial and Arlington National Cemeter, the Netherlands Carillon has one of the best views in the area, overlooking the Potomac River towards Washington, D.C..

Debi Sorber

Meet Debi

Retiring to the Ski Slopes of West Virginia

While most retirees head south and away from snow during the winter months, Debi Sorber schusses toward it. She didn’t take up skiing until her thirties but quickly fell in love. And as she says, “Once a teacher, always a teacher. When you love a sport, you want everyone to learn it.” Debi and her husband, Rick, have been ski instructors at Timberline Mountain in West Virginia for over 20 years, first as weekend warriors and now as retirees.

Each ski season, you’ll find them happily ensconced in the chalet Rick built—affectionately referred to as “Slopeside Inn.” There, every day is a “snow day” and commuting to what Debi calls her “fun job” simply entails popping on a pair of skis—the ultimate transportation.

Teaching sport is a natural fit for this former health and physical education instructor. A native Northern Virginian, Debi started her career in 1977 at Fort Hunt High School, where she also coached cheerleading, softball, and field hockey. Then, she transferred to Thoreau Middle School (MS) and finally retired from Carl Sandburg MS in 2009 after 32 years with FCPS.

Debi and Rick's 'Slopeside Inn'
Debi and Rick's "Slopeside Inn"
Debi Sorber kayaking on lake Monticello
Kayaking on Lake Monticello

While Debi wasn’t sure she was ready for retirement when her husband first suggested it, she came to realize there would be life after FCPS. For her, that has meant combining a love of skiing with a passion for teaching. As a ski instructor, she has taught all ages, including students from church groups, scout troops, Challenged Athletes of West Virginia, Wounded Warriors, and a school for the blind and deaf.

It has also meant making her year-round home on Lake Monticello in Charlottesville, Virginia, near her two daughters (also teachers) and their families—and far from the traffic woes of Northern Virginia. Kayaking or paddle boarding are on the agenda most days, as are spending time with her two grandchildren and meetups with dear friends who’ve also retired to the area (many are former FCPS teachers).

Because her husband was self-employed, Debi credits having both VRS and ERFC pensions with enabling her to fully enjoy retirement. Her only complaint is that, like skiing down a black run, it’s going by too fast.