Longtime pool/spa industry educator Connie Sue Centrella is retiring next month, but it’s not the end of her days in the classroom. Her career is just taking off in a different direction, she said.

Graduates of a CPO course taught by Connie Sue Centrella (front, far left) gather on the deck of the Azamara Quest in the Greek islands. (photo courtesy C.S. Centrella)
Graduates of a CPO course taught by Connie Sue Centrella (front, far left) gather on the deck of the Azamara Quest in the Greek islands. (photo courtesy C.S. Centrella)

On Aug. 1, Centrella will retire from her post as director of education at Team Horner, a manufacturer and exporter based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. She will focus even more on international education, as a training consultant working within the Public Health Division of Royal Caribbean International. On the cruise ships, she will continue to utilize the National Swimming Pool Foundation’s CPO course, teaching personnel on the ships that have pools and waterfeatures on board, which need to be kept clean and safe for passenger use.

She’ll still be teaching on land, too. Though she’ll be officially retired from Team Horner, she will continue to provide education services to the company on a consultant basis. And Centrella also will lead technical and business seminars at trade shows such as the International Pool | Spa | Patio Expo; The Pool & Spa Show, powered by NESPA; and Everything Under the Sun Expo in Orlando, Fla., as she has for years. “The industry has been so good to me,” Centrella noted. “I’m not giving up my commitment to the shows.”

As if all that weren’t enough, she’s also now volunteering as a recreational water facilities consultant for the Vessel Sanitation Program with the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention and the U.S. Public Health Service during the review and updating of the current guidelines. The VSP is for the entire cruise industry for those ships that enter U.S. ports. Its recommendations are expected to take effect within the next year.

She credits Bill Kent, Ph.D., of Team Horner with making her multifaceted teaching career possible. “He was always so supportive and recognized my passion for teaching,” she said. “He gave me time off to teach on ships.” Kent also supported her work at Keiser University as department chair of Aquatic Engineering Technology from 2004 to 2014, even as she headed up education at Team Horner.

“As I got older, I thought I’d slow down a little and not do the day-to-day routine for a company,” Centrella explained. That frees her up to do even more teaching on the high seas.

“I like to enjoy life and take more time to travel the world,” Centrella said. Working on cruise ships certainly makes that possible. In fact, she’s scheduled to teach on three ships in August and four in September in the Mediterranean. She said she’s taught officers, engineers and new hires on Royal Caribbean, Celebrity and Azamara ships – a total of 46 vessels since 2010.

Centrella explained that what she does is called ship-hopping: She gets off a ship in one port and gets on another one and heads back out to sea, spending five or six days on board. And what does she find particularly challenging about leading seminars on these floating classrooms? “Teaching the CPO course in the metric system of measurement,” Centrella said, but quickly added that she’s happiest when challenged.

Indeed, she said, “It’s not a job; it’s an adventure.”