Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Education Encore session approaches

My students in a 2011 class.
PANAMA CITY — I have had the pleasure — and the challenge — of teaching a writing course for the Education Encore program at Gulf Coast State College for the past few years, helping students ranging in age from 30 to 80 and in writing experience from beginner to retired journalist explore their way with words.

The new session begins Jan. 24, and continues for six consecutive Fridays. Registration is Jan. 17, starting at 8 a.m. in the Student Union East Conference Center on a first-come, first-served basis. Doors will open at 7 a.m. The fee for Panama City participants is $88, which includes four classes on each of the six Fridays.

(Classes are also offered at the GCSC Port St. Joe campus, at a fee of $66, which includes three classes each Wednesday for six weeks.)

“The goal of Education Encore is to provide a learning environment that is fun, lively and offers diversity, insight and wisdom — in which adults explore new ideas,” said Jim Barr, coordinator of Education Partnerships. “If you have been to college, this is an opportunity to re-live the college experience. If you have not attended college, this is an opportunity to live the college experience. Just as exercising the body keeps one physically fit, exercising the mind keeps one mentally fit.”

The program’s enrollment spiked in the spring session of 2013 with a record 525 enrollees, Barr said.

Many of the courses evolved from suggestions by students; each semester, GCSC surveys participants to learn what worked and what should be added or changed next time. As a result, courses are diverse, including bridge, digital image editing, drawing, farming, watercolor painting, digital photography, jewelry, learning to use new tablet and laptop technology, car maintenance, zumba, politics, religions, the Bill of Rights, ancient histories, linguistics, financial planning, local marine biology, acrylics, yoga, line dance, film discussion, conflict resolution, a capella harmony, tai chi, storytelling, local history and many more.

Students can choose among 10 or more classes in each of four 75-minute instructional periods. The schedule includes an hour-long lunch break, but even that can be educational.

“While eating lunch, (the students) have the opportunity to participate in what we call ‘lunch-and-learn’ sessions,” Barr told The News Herald. “They’re special programs for students during that hour with speakers on specialized topics of interest to this age group.”

To browse the selection of classes offered, visit GulfCoast.edu/EducationEncore; for more information call   the Corporate College registration desk at 872-3823 or e-mail Jim Barr at jbarr@gulfcoast.edu.

Since 1991, Education Encore has offered non-credit enrichment classes for adults under the motto, “No Stress! No Tests! No Grades! Just Fun!” — although I have been known to send students home with homework.


Peace

I will be teaching a class called "Writing/Life," which I'm really looking forward to. I generally teach a creative writing/short fiction course, but this time I'm making it personal. We'll still be crafting short stories, but we'll be talking about the bigger picture. Why we write. What it means in our lives.
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