SMC Community Education Opens New Doors

With hundreds of not-for-credit classes for people to explore their personal interests, pursue professional development, or enhance their careers, SMC Community Education has worked for more than four decades to fill the lifelong learning needs of the community at large. Classes on a wide range of topics are also offered online.

"Our goal is to provide affordable, quality, meaningful classes to our community," said Alice Meyering, program coordinator for SMC Community and Contract Education. "We try to be responsive to popular demand and cover trending topics, but our program is really about meeting the overall community's needs."

The personal interest courses – which even include special classes for children and teens – are designed to enrich lives through hands-on workshops and lively classes in art, writing, languages, dance, and many other areas. The courses give people the chance to try something new, and "people get excited about going to classes with friends," said Meyering.

After taking Arlene Weinstock's "Drawing with Colored Pencils" class, Edna Bonacich wrote, "I was a bit skeptical because the class meets at night and I hate going out at night. Also, we had homework, and I dreaded having an added responsibility." But Bonacich wasn't writing to complain. "In fact," she continued, "the class was a delight, and my neighbor and I never missed one. In addition, the homework was very worthwhile, and we both ended up with a small body of work."

Commenting on the highly popular "Writer's Bootcamp" led by Stacey Collins, C. Le – self-described as "a person with a non-writing day job who desired to make writing a greater focus in life" – found the workshop "an ideal environment to explore this effort."

Taking "Pastels & More" from Jean Barlow-Nunes is like "taking 3 hours out of my busy schedule to unwind at the end of the week," said Ilana Marosi, adding that the class "allows me a well needed recharging of the spirit!"

Currently, classes in writing, art, Spanish, and photography are in top demand, and an art history lecture series with Eleanor Schrader that started in January has become popular with a broad audience. "Thank you for making this possible!" wrote Michelle Chiang about the series, which will continue with new lectures during SMC's Summer and Winter sessions.

This Spring, SMC Community Education expanded its career-oriented courses with the launch of SMC Extension to provide classes and workshops for professional development and continuing education. The program recently won the 2016 Association of Continuing and Community Education (ACCE) "Excellence in Community Education" award, which recognizes programs that have demonstrated a profound effect on the field of community and continuing education.

SMC Extension classes, which are led by instructors who are professionals in their field, range from mediation training and real estate management to QuickBooks, bartending, becoming a notary, and more!

In addition, SMC Extension serves as a central point for the BankWork$ program, a Jewish Vocational Services (JVS) training program that has placed more than 1,000 individuals into entry-level jobs in the banking industry.

SMC Extension courses help create career pathways and training opportunities for students at all levels. Classes are designed to be "timely and relevant," said Michelle King, director of SMC Career and Contract Education.

"There's a big market out there, and we can't meet all the community's needs, but we're trying!" said King. "One of the great advantages of the SMC Extension program is that it's flexible, so we can quickly add, expand, or adapt classes in response to demand." For example, after receiving student feedback about the 11-month-long "Professional Paralegal Certification" program, SMC Extension retooled it to be a 6-month program.

SMC Extension has also partnered with more than 200 local businesses, State agencies, and professional associations to develop and deliver a wide variety of employee learning and development programs – from one-day workshops to short-term certificate programs. Course offerings for Preferred Partners can be developed or custom-tailored to meet an organization's goals for employee development, and Preferred Partner employees receive discounts on all SMC Extension courses, as well as a selection of other Community Education courses.

To find out more about SMC Community Education, SMC Extension, and the Preferred Partners program, please see or call (310) 434-3400.

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