School is about to be back in session for thousands of Villagers and local residents. The Enrichment Academy’s Spring/Summer Catalog was released today and offers a plethora of stimulating courses. The catalog is included inside the Daily Sun today for subscribers. It also will be available at all regional recreation centers and online at districtgov.org. In addition to other perennially popular classes, the new catalog features several new aquatic classes, health and wellness, history and travel courses, said Recreation Manager Melanie Sarakinis, who oversees TEA as part of The Villages Recreation and Parks department.
Foreign language courses also remain popular, she said.
The Enrichment Academy is a continuing-education program of fee-based, extra-curricular courses for Villages residents and nonresidents. It started in October 2017 and offers hundreds of classes covering subjects such as art, dance, health and wellness, language, music, photography, technology and writing. The classes are held at recreation centers throughout The Villages.
Registration for courses opens for Villages residents during the Learn & Grow Expo from 9 to 11 a.m. March 5 at Lake Miona Recreation Center. Non-residents can register starting at 8:30 a.m. March 9, and everyone is welcome to attend the expo to meet the instructors and learn more about what’s coming up. Admission to the expo is free and open to the public.
To register, look for the “Click Here to Register Now” icon on the left side of the recreation department’s page on districtgov.org.
New courses will begin April 1.
Some students have taken multiple courses and say TEA is a fun learning environment.
Charlie Schubert, of the Village El Cortez, is a retired scientist who considers himself a lifelong student. He has taken TEA classes on topics from billiards to history and climate change.
“If you don’t learn something new every day, you’re dead,” he said.
A Speaker Series was added in the first year of the academy, where speakers visit The Villages to discuss various topics at least once every month.
Sarakinis said TEA now offers registration for its Speaker Series program through the registration website and at any regional recreation center.
“Our Speaker Series registration now is through the same avenue as courses beginning in March,” Sarakinis said.
The first speaker in that series will be author Michael Tougias with “Overboard! The Survival at Sea Story.” The story about disaster and survival includes the 45-foot boat’s first mate, Loch Reidy, now a resident of the Village of Gilchrist.
Tickets for the March 12 event are on sale now.
Learn to Use More Technology
Technology is one of the most popular class categories in the academy.
Anyone uncomfortable using a computer to register online can take a TEA course to learn how to use technology.
“The most popular classes are definitely technology and history,” Sarakinis said.
Sandy Seibert, of the Village of Country Club Hills, teaches several technology courses, including Microsoft Word and Excel, as well as Pages for MacBooks. She has been training people to use computers and new programs since 1984 when she started that role at The Hershey Co. in Pennsylvania.
“A lot of (the students), when they were in the working world, had secretaries to do this. Now they have to do it on their own,” she said. “In other cases, their spouse has passed away and they used to do it.”
Some students, she said, have started using their computer’s programs, but are not familiar with all its capabilities, she said.
“People are writing their own books and they don’t understand word processing,” Seibert said. “When they see what they can do on their own without having to pay an editor, they are thrilled.”
Students must take Part 1 of her courses before they take Part 2 even if they think they know all the basics.
“I’ve never had anyone tell me it’s a waste of time,” Seibert said. “I show them how to use it in a more efficient way and make it easier for them.”
Aquatics to Strengthen
Water fitness class offerings are growing at TEA.
Jeanette “Jean” Hofmann taught High Energy Aquatic Training last semester. She will return to teach two HEAT courses, as well as three new Water Warrior courses using new Aqualogix Fitness Equipment for greater water resistance to tone, strengthen and improve flexibility, she said.
The classes are all to music, Hofmann said.
“I push myself really and students really hard, but we have a lot of fun,” the Village of Hadley resident said.
Learn to Play Music
Many options in the world of music also are available to students.
For example, Linda Ward and Tim Robinson will return to teach two levels of ukulele classes, beginning and advanced, said Ward, of the Village Hacienda.
“It’s fun playing with other people,” she said. “You’re moving your fingers, and you’re learning something new.”
Students play music from the 1920s up to Creedence Clearwater Revival. They can go on to join one of nine ukulele groups in The Villages, she said.
Popular music teachers Bill and Patti Thompson, formerly of the Village of Pinellas and now of Daytona Beach, will again teach piano lessons for up to 30 students at a time at five levels, from early beginner to advanced, on Thursdays.
Patti said more than 90 percent of people who take their beginning piano course go on and take more courses.
“When everybody leaves with a smile, you know you’re doing something right,” she said.
She said a lot of students had previous instruction, but most have not.
“They’ve always wanted to play piano their whole lives,” Patti said.
The Thompsons provide the keyboards and music.
Moving from the category of history to science, John Blackwell will teach Eight Events That Made Our World again next semester.
“Since we were in college, there has been an amazing increase in our understanding of the world around us,” he said. “I wanted to give those with no science background the experience of just how exciting the new discoveries are.”
Blackwell’s class will meet Tuesdays and Fridays in July and August.
Photography is a relatively new category of classes for TEA, Sarakinis said.
John “Swede” Spoltore, of the Village of Osceola Hills, is one of three photography instructors coming back. He will teach three different types of photography, including portrait photography, in his second semester with TEA.
“I tell students I’m trying to get you from a photo taker to a photo maker,” Spoltore said.
He said he teaches students about features they may not realize that are on their cameras — whether a digital single lens reflex camera or a point-and-shoot camera — as well as composition and techniques, such as getting on the same level as the subject to photograph a small child or a dog.
He said he likes to see how much students’ pictures improve by the end of his course.
“I get more enjoyment out of the teaching now than the shooting,” the retired photographer said.
Staff writer Dayna Straehley can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5408, or firstname.lastname@example.org.