Adult education in the Abingtons

First Posted: 9/16/2014

Every morning I walk my dog along our busy road. Every morning I see something new I haven’t seen this week, this month, this year. A small woodpecker – no red that I can see – perched on a mullein seed spike. A flurry of goldfinches flits and flutters across the road and down through the multitudinous “weeds,” that beautiful jumble of changing colors, of single stem and mounds of bushes. An apple, a pear, a walnut drops onto the road. And often one hawk, or two, screeches and floats far above. Life is moving rapidly and changing all around us, sometimes at a dizzying pace, and although we don’t want to stop it, we do want to be able to say we take the time to notice.

The best way I know to notice is to be involved in making, and be totally engrossed in that making. Making stuff matters to me and gives me that moment of stillness when life slows, and time lengthens out as I become deeply involved in what I am doing. Any maker knows this feeling.

I suppose this is one way to approach a class at the Abington Area Community Classroom. A chance to delve into a subject, and lose yourself in the making – be it a story, a basket, a meal, a piece of smocking, a crocheted necklace. It’s your time away, learning by doing, engaging your brain in a stimulating activity. None of us is getting any younger – take some time now to see what you can learn!

While AACC is mostly run by women, certainly men have been a major part of its success. Warren Watkins has been our cheerleader and supporter from the beginning. Bill Risse of the Abington Area Joint Recreation Broad agreed to support our fledgling classroom idea so we could develop to where we are today – an independent non-profit with our own 501c3. Ty Welles has helped in innumerable ways with legal matters.

Men teach! So many of our chefs have been men – Mike McCully and Peter Robinson, Joe Caputo, Gene Romaldini. Professors Creegan, Dawoody and Diaz have taught for us. Mike Stevens, Jeff Brozena and Dennis Boyne shared their talents with us in classes about family interviews, Facebook and story-telling, respectively. Learning about Jazz was presented by the Rev. Bill Carter and Rabbi Daniel Swartz will lead us in a study of the Psalms in October. Gehred Wetzel teaches Ballroom Dancing with his wife Jill.

Men take classes! Financial matters taught by Jim Gillotti have been popular classes with men, as have classes in stained glass with Jay Paulukonis and film with Jon Tichenor. One man brought his children and they all learned together how to make a Tree of Life necklace, each going home with a unique piece of jewelry.

Jim Vipond, Jim Verano and Bill Carter all serve on The Gathering Place board of directors and provide us with much-needed expertise and assistance.

These are just some of the ways men have impacted the development of our continuing education program. AACC is for everyone and we hope, going forward, men will find more opportunities to get involved.

Check out all the classes we offer in October. Two classes, Annual Enrollment Period – Medicare Beneficiaries ( Oct. 2) and Medicare 101 (Oct. 16) are free, taught by the folks from APPRISE, a free health insurance counseling service for older Pennsylvanians, who know what they’re talking about. Legal Aspects of Estate Planning (Oct. 9) is making another appearance, because Jim Gillotti does such a thorough job of teaching, so if you missed him at the library you have another chance. The class costs only $10.

Pam Summa’s class on smocking will begin Oct. 6, a Monday, so if Thursdays have not been working out for you this is a perfect chance to jump in and take this class. I don’t know where else you can try your hand at this traditional craft and learn from the best.

Story-telling will be going on the same night, and if you have not signed up yet, you are missing a great opportunity to get expert advice from an experienced writer and performer, Dennis Boyne, our Story Slam winner. His hilarious tale of accompanying his granddaughter on a ride at a water park left his audience with big smiles on their faces. Is there an event in your life that would make a great story?

Kevin Creegan, Ph.D, will show us several basic methods of meditation and how we can integrate them into our daily routine for a better quality of life, reducing stress, improving mental focus and enhancing our sense of well-being. Wouldn’t we all benefit from this? Improved Quality of Life Through Meditation begins Oct. 9 and goes for four weeks.

Psalms: Poems for Your Life – the title alone attracts me. Let Rabbi Daniel Swartz show “how to use these ancient words to navigate through our modern lives.” Let the Psalms help enrich and strengthen you through your journeys. I know I’m going to try to attend this class. This four-week course begins Oct. 16 and promises to be inspiring right through to Nov. 6.

Basket-making with Beth Koehler will be back and Beth is planning on making a “double pie basket” this time. Prepare for some fun evenings, and a fantastic basket to take home. The class runs Oct. 23- Nov. 6.

A few more classes round out our schedule and I’ll talk about them next time. Check out the brochure and website ( and find out about all our classes and our plans for the Gathering Place. Don’t forget the Trolley Trail Walk 10 a.m. on Sept. 27 with Joshua Arp as your guide. We meet at the upper parking lot of The Church of the Epiphany, Church Hill Road, Glenburn. A $10 per family donation goes to the Countryside Conservancy. Hope to see you there.

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