05/21/14 — Potpourri of learning

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Potpourri of learning

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on May 21, 2014 1:46 PM

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Coe Smith demonstrates how to throw a jab during a cardio kickboxing class at Wayne Community College. Smith had the idea to offer the class as part of continuing education, with an ultimate goal of getting the class added to the curriculum. He said, "If there is a walking or weight training class, why can't there be cardio kickboxing?"

Sometimes, education can just be about having some fun.

While the bulk of the continuing education program's schedule at Wayne Community College remains consistent -- technology, allied health and other courses that are organization-driven -- more diverse and unique classes are also popping up.

"Sometimes that results in a one-time class, like beekeeping and model plane classes, and sometimes the concepts take off and are offered every semester," said Renita Dawson, associate vice president of continuing education services.

The unique approach results in other course offerings like couponing and decorative rock painting, cardio kickboxing and iPad training.

"People walk in the door and want to learn how to do something," Ms. Dawson said. "Most of the things we do, the public can have some input.

"If you have got a group of 10 or 20 friends and have a specific course, if we're able to find the instructors for them, we can cater to the needs of the people."

Classes can be developed based on interest, like the popular ongoing line dance class, or the Zumba class that is being considered as an option starting this summer. Others, like the area of allied health,  one of the biggest continuing education categories, are based on need for credentials or retraining.

"EMS is very popular, so much so that we have started a class on Fridays," she said. "Computer classes, there's a steady stream."

The senior population also generates a number of classes that are offered, some at the Senior Center and at no charge, Ms. Dawson said.

The expansion of summer programs and campus is another area continuing education is moving toward, she said.

"We run the training for the Foster Grandparents program during the summer," she said. "And we have been approached this year by the Boys & Girls Club to see if we can do some enrichment this summer for the kids.

"That's in line with our campus. We're going to offer on campus this summer an allied health career camp for middle and high school students. This will be the first time for the week-long camp. This is going to be a good way for us to start."

Another new addition starting soon is the concept of a community chorus.

"We want to be able to build our arts program," Ms. Dawson said. "Sometimes folks don't have time in their schedule to take an elective. It's a fun way to be involved in their community. They'll meet weekly for eight weeks."

From craft classes to a course in workplace Spanish, college isn't just for academics any more.

"If you don't see it, ask for it," Ms. Dawson said. "Our motto is, we'll try it!

"Sometimes we have heard of something that's worked at another community college and we're not afraid of doing that. That's the beauty of continuing education. We can do that."

Lisa Newkirk, coordinator of occupational extension/leisure and recreation, said she enjoys getting feedback from community members and learning what they like.

"I had a lady call me this week, 'I signed up for a sewing class because it's going to help me de-stress,'" she said. "That made me feel great because I saw that we could do that for her."

The list of ideas doesn't have to be limited to students interested in taking a class, either. If there's an expert in the community willing to teach a course, those suggestions are also welcome, the women said.

"We're always excited about finding out what people would like to see. We want to hear from the people what they want to learn," Ms. Dawson said.

The summer semester starts in late May. The schedule is available online and at the college, as well as the Wayne County Public Library, the YMCA and the Department of Workforce Solutions, formerly Employment Security Commission.

For more information on continuing education, visit online at www.waynecc.edu/course-schedules or call 919-739-6900.