The teachers at the Renaissance Academy in Chicago are not there to collect a salary. Rather, they are there to share their passion for their subject with their students, who themselves have a lot of life experience.
This includes Carol Conway, who started leading classes at the academy for people aged 55 and over after first being a student at Renaissance.
“The instructors are people who give their time and are interested in them,” she said. “It’s completely collegial: we learn from each other. There is no one outside who is hired. It’s just if something interests you.
When the fall semester begins Oct. 10, Conway will lead a class called Novels You Weren’t Ready For in High School. The former high school English teacher called teaching the course “a different experience than having a sophomore swallow it.”
“To Kill a Mockingbird” will be this year’s first book and “Great Expectations” will be the last, she said.
“It’s so amazing to me that people who read this book in high school — and almost everyone has — said, ‘I don’t remember.’ I had not noticed it.
The academy specializes in unusual courses, such as Let’s Talk Happiness, which aims to provide “spirited discussions about what happiness means to course participants,” according to the academy’s enrollment booklet.
“It’s a new one. It’s really something,” Conway said. “It’s about what brings you joy.”
Women Athletes, which explores female athletes who have become legends and role models for people around the world, tells the stories of stars such as Bobbi Gibb, Wilma Rudolph and Billie Jean King. News and Views is a course that helps participants “make sense of the news of the day,” according to the registration booklet.
For an annual fee of $180, adults can take one to three classes during each of Renaissance Academy’s three 6-week sessions in the fall, winter, and spring. Fees include winter and spring lunches, access to select university facilities, and two speaker forums.
In-person classes are held Tuesday and Thursday afternoons at Saint Xavier’s University, 3700 W 103rd St., Chicago. Zoom classes take place on Wednesday afternoons. Registration is done online at www.renaissancechgo.org September 8-15, and the academy is limited to 300 students.
“Obviously you meet a special type of person who is a lifelong learner and willing to put in a little work,” Conway explained, explaining that while most of the academy members are women, a number of men are animators. “My experience with people is that they like the community, the camaraderie. They love learning something new and using our brains that are still working.
This social aspect is also found among students who take personal enrichment courses at Moraine Valley Community College, based in Palos Hills but which also has educational centers in Blue Island and Tinley Park.
“Some of our cooking classes have friends taking the class together or family members. It’s really fun,” said Elizabeth Micheletti, Program Manager for Corporate Community and Continuing Education. “Our craft classes also tend to draw them. It’s kind of a fun group outing activity.
She said the arts and crafts class has many returning students.
“They say it’s not just the art they come for, but also the community around it, and they’ve made friends by taking the classes on several occasions,” Micheletti said. “They are able to create a sense of community in the classes, especially those that last several weeks in which they get to know each other.”
Micheletti said the college strives to be “community accessible, so we want to make sure we can offer something that appeals to everyone, not just our credit students.”
“I think one of the fun things that we can differentiate ourselves with is that we have such a wealth of knowledge in middle school, and we want to be able to make that available to anyone who wants to learn something new or try a new pass. -time or explore a subject they know nothing about.
Micheletti said the courses run the gamut. “We have a very good birding course and we take people who have never thought of putting a bird feeder in their backyard to a bird watcher.”
Non-credit and personal enrichment courses are available to everyone. This summer, a program presented a classic activity.
“One of our employees here in Moraine has actually been a dungeon master since he was a kid – Kipp Cozad,” she explained. “He was able to integrate Dungeons and Dragons into our children’s programs. We ran it four times and it was all packed out which was so much fun. We will definitely bring this back in the spring semester.
Another popular class discusses movies shot at Old Joliet Jail, offered in the fall and spring. The state prison was built in 1858 and operated until 2002.
“It’s an off-site course, and they end up in jail. We have an amazing film and film instructor who will take them through the prison and all the different buildings and tell them about the films that have been made there over time,” such as “Blues Brothers,” Micheletti said, adding that would like to take the course herself.
A new topic this semester taught by a faculty member is Chat GPT. One course focuses on understanding technology and how it works, and the other on how people can incorporate elements of artificial intelligence into their daily lives and work.
Chef Lampros Tizmas leads a one-day course called Cooking With Starches which includes risotto, mashed sweet potatoes, quinoa and more, as well as Greek street food, which shows how to prepare the most popular dishes. most popular in the country and a bit of Greek culture and cuisine. and lifestyle.
Participants can learn about the geography, weather, and culture that make up the Chicago area and how waterways have shaped the region during a Chicagoland Waterways course. Another course teaches students how to save money with extreme coupons. Those planning on traveling in an RV might want to take the one-day course. So you want to campervan?
Midwestern Foraging, which teaches participants how to safely identify local plants that can be cooked and eaten, is another course offered this fall.
“In the spring, we organized a bird watching course. I was so surprised that a lot of people wanted to sign up for this,” said Syreeta Brown, Moraine Valley Senior Program Manager. “The knife sharpening course is very popular – we only have two spots left. The succulent sauce course is also very popular.
Some students seem to enjoy taking classes with the same instructor. “We have followers of (watercolor teacher) John Howard, and people take his course again and again. Every time registrations open, they sign up. It’s a social thing for them,” Brown said.
Classes are a good way for people to broaden their horizons, she said.
“I don’t think we usually explore who we are outside of our work, outside of our personal life – the different facets that make us up. Watch and see what catches your eye. What did you want to do when you were a kid? Or maybe you want to travel to the future. Take an RV course.
Personal enrichment classes start at $25 and go up from there, depending on the materials needed and the length of the class, but the majority are between $25 and $150,” Micheletti said. THE fall schedule is available online and some courses have already started. For information, email CommunityEducation@morainevalley.edu or call 708-974-5735.
Moraine is “always open to lesson suggestions and ideas from the public, so if anyone has a topic they would be interested in and would like us to run it in the future, please email us,” said Micheletti. “And if someone is an expert in a field or something in their field and wants to share with us, we are always looking for new instructors. They can contact us and discuss the possibility of putting their subject on our agenda.
South Suburban College, which has a main campus in South Holland and a center in Oak Forest, also offers “a wide variety of courses and opportunities for everyone, from toddlers to seniors, throughout the university years, with a primary focus on lifelong learning”. according to its website. Some fall courses have already started, and the fall schedule is available online.
Melinda Moore is a freelance writer for the Daily Southtown.