Inside the White Bear Lake Community Education Program

Fun local classes prove you’re never too old to learn something new.
Suzanne Starks overseeing a student project at the White Bear Lake Center for the Arts.

Bingo, knitting and seminars on Medicare. Is this your image of the range of adult programs for retirees? Well, flash forward, folks. If you’ve got the time and motivation to try something new, there are unique opportunities to get creative, get your groove on or master a new skill with courses from the likes of the White Bear Center for the Arts, White Bear Lake Area Schools Community Services and Recreation Department, and Mahtomedi Community Education.

“We find for many of our students, once they retire, they have the time and money to pursue goals they set aside during their working years,” says Danielle Cezanne, education director for White Bear Center for the Arts. Offering a variety of art classes seven days a week, adults can learn to paint, make jewelry, weld, even try unique classes such as how to build a brick oven or design a small house. In fact, the center says almost all their students are over the age of 40. “Just come hang out and you’ll find an opportunity to create something. When you are doing art, you are open on some level with others, and a kind of support and trust develops that is really unique. There is an incredible sense of community [at WBCA] and it’s very special.” WBCA is planning a grand opening event September 22 for a new 10,000-square-foot facility to accommodate the more than 3,000 adults who use the center annually.

If getting fit is a goal, ditch the workout and join the party with Zumba, the fitness craze that will have you moving to the rhythms of Latin and world music; no dance experience is necessary. Find Zumba classes in your fall community education brochures. Getting fit can also mean learning something new, like skills offered in iPad classes that help many Boomers and seniors stay connected with kids, nieces and nephews, and grandchildren, or Zumba Gold classes that get people moving to an upbeat dance groove. White Bear Lake Area Schools Community Services and Recreation Department offers these fun classes, along with a wide range of fitness options for all ages and ability levels. There are also wellness classes, including Ghost and Spirit Energies (similar to the spring course, Understanding Your Chakras). Check fall course catalogs for current course availability.

Maybe you’re looking to pursue another career or wanting to amp up the skills you already have. You can tap into your inner Nora Ephron with Introduction to Screen Writing or channel your favorite philanthropist with Nonprofit Management in the privacy of your own home. Ed2Go online learning through White Bear Lake Area Schools offers monthly professional development and personal enrichment sessions that follow a convenient six-week format. Online instructors lead each course in an interactive learning environment and you receive an award of completion with a passing score. Some of the categories offered are accounting, finance, law and legal, writing and publishing, and personal development.

Want to learn to tweet, tag and check in? Check out the Mahtomedi Community Education fall schedule, which is offering a youth-facilitated social media class teaching adults the ins and outs of Facebook and Twitter. And that’s only the beginning. “We are really refocusing efforts on adult enrichment this fall with new courses like Building Your Own Fishing Rod and Basics of Selling on eBay,” says Kathy Ulvin, the adult and senior programming coordinator who retired in June. Mahtomedi Senior Program also sees more than 200 participants who attend the popular community lunch programs, and weekly bridge and domino games.

No matter where your interests lie, adults of any age who take advantage of community education offerings will find a way to meet new people and have some fun.