Meet the dean of Calgary’s Santa school: ‘I’ve trained hundreds of Santas’

Jennifer Andrews is a self-professed “Santa snob,” but it’s a title she’s earned.

“I’ve trained hundreds and hundreds of Santas,” says the dean of Santa School.

The Calgary-based program recruits individuals from all walks of life and backgrounds to channel the biggest role of their life: Santa Claus.

“Ethnically diverse, culturally diverse, physically diverse… we’re looking for snowflakes — we’re looking for them to be different and unique and beautiful,” Andrews says.

But the most important trait is the ability to capture one’s own persona and translate it into becoming the jolly man in red.

Read more: Santa School in Calgary trains aspiring St. Nicks

“There are as many Santas as you can imagine because people create that version of their Santa,” she says.

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“At Santa School, one of the exercises that we spend a lot of time on is, ‘Who are you? Who is your Santa?’ And we help them figure out what that means.”

That training has brought Andrews success in booking gigs locally and internationally.

“I’ve sent Santas multiple times to Hong Kong, Jakarta, England, Sweden. We’ve sent the best Santas everywhere.”

Even to the White House.

Several years ago, Andrews placed St. Nick for a function in Washington, D.C.

“I don’t know if he met the president or not, but he was there and had to go through all kinds of security clearance,” she says with a twinkle in her eye.

Andrews’ motto is “Santa can’t be everywhere,” so there needs to be professional helpers who can get the job done. Like the age-old story of how many supermodels are discovered by agents, Andrews uses the same technique: carrying cards in her back pocket and approaching complete strangers.

Click to play video: 'Vulnerable families find holiday cheer at the annual Children’s Christmas Party'

Vulnerable families find holiday cheer at the annual Children’s Christmas Party

“When I see somebody that maybe could be the part, I hand those cards out and just say, ‘Hey, have you ever thought about working with kids in this way? We’d like to talk to you.’ But mostly people come to us,” she says with a laugh.

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Andrews is a businesswoman who proves that behind every great Santa, there’s an even greater teacher.

“When my daughter was little, she said, ‘Do you think Santa is the most powerful man in the whole world?’ And I said, ‘I think he’s one of them.’ And she said, ‘That’s pretty cool because I think you might be his boss.’

“I do feel really lucky.”

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