Performance-enhancing classes

 Felting, finance, and food: Portland’s continuing education options
By DEIRDRE FULTON  |  August 30, 2013

Back-to-school season shouldn’t just apply to backpack-wielding youngsters. Given the confidence-boosting, growth-enhancing benefits of trying new things, students of all ages could afford to continue their educations this fall — and through Portland Adult Education (a division of the Portland Public Schools system that served more than 4,500 adult students last year), doing so is actually quite affordable. Most courses run between $25-100. Enrollment is open to Portland residents as well as those who live outside the city limits (non-Portlanders pay a slightly higher fee).

PAE’s Fall 2013 course catalog, available in hard copy and online at, is full of mind-expanding opportunties in categories such as cooking, crafts, personal finance, and fitness. Here, we highlight a few that look particularly interesting; peruse the full brochure to develop your personal curriculum. Classes this semester are being held at locations around Portland while PAE continues to search for a permanent home.

In the kitchen
This semester’s cooking offerings are limited but practical: Breakfast Cookery, Soups, and “Sagne e Fagioli,” in which Giovina Ferrante will teach students to make the classic dish of rustic homemade pasta noodles with beans. (Ferrante seems to be the real deal — she’s also teaching several Italian language courses this fall.) If those options don’t interest you, keep your eyes peeled for other food-related courses sprinkled throughout the catalog, such as Preserving the Harvest: Apples ($19 for one session plus a $15 lab fee) or Gluten-Free Eating and Its Benefits ($19 for one session), taught by local homeopath Wendy Pollock.

Work up a sweat
If you’re sick of your usual gym routine, why not check out PAE’s fitness classes, which include yoga, dance, and aerobics workouts? We’re intrigued by Samurai Strength, which will blend techniques and drills from several traditional martial arts including Aikido and Capoeira ($150 for 27 sessions); Global Dance Party, an internationally inspired movement class ($5/class or $40 for a 10-class card; offered twice weekly from September to December); and Hardcore Hooping, at which “each participant will receive a water-weighted [and trademarked] Hardcore Hoop, designed to help make even the most hoop-shy person successful in their quest for better health” ($29 for 4 sessions).

Get your hands dirty
PAE’s Life and Work Skills courses range from outdoorsy (Beekeeping 101) to office-oriented (Strategic Planning for Non-Profits). The Compass Project, a local non-profit boat-building organization, has teamed up with PAE to offer two hands-on workshops: Build Your Own Stand-Up Paddleboard ($2,000 for 17 sessions; all tools provided) and the Woman’s Woodworking Primer ($435 for 10 sessions). Local Sprouts co-owner and founder Jonah Fertig will offer a one-session course on Starting Worker Co-Ops, for those who are interested in the democratic business-ownership model ($19). And local brain trainer Beth Stoddard is teaching Brain Gym: Keys to Self-Responsibility and Success, a one-session introduction to exercizes that improve memory, coordination, and organizational skills ($19).

Unlock your creativity
Jump start your holiday crafting with one-session Balsam Fir Kissing Ball or Wreath workshops ($19-26), or learn to needle-felt objects for your holiday centerpieces ($42 for 6 sessions). In the Fine Arts and Photography realm, professional artists will teach the basics of ceramics ($149 for 8 sessions plus a $50 lab fee), watercolor painting ($119 for 12 sessions), and digital cameras ($39 for 3 sessions plus a $5 lab fee). A two-session course called Free Your Creative Self uses child development as a framework through which adult artists can identify and release their creative energies ($42 for 2 sessions plus a $10 lab fee).

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