By Michael Evans
Much learning takes place outside of the traditional classroom.
Outdoor enthusiast Dan Potts teaches three popular classes in West High School’s Community Education program during the first part of the year – Ice Fishing, Fly Tying, and Wild Food Foraging. Mr. Potts also teaches Intensive Gardening later in the spring, about growing the most food in the smallest available space.
The Salt Lake City School District’s Community Education Program has a flexible system that allows the public four ways of registering for a multitude of different classes at the three different sites at East, Highland and West High Schools. Brian O’Neal, who manages the program at West, stressed how well online registration worked, and how popular and efficient it was compared to mail-in registration, phone registration, or rare cases of in-person registration.
Instead of mailing out bulky paper catalogs this year, the district mailed postcards with the web address of the online catalog. Classes vary in duration, beginning and ending throughout the semester, with other classes replacing them. To access the printable catalog, go to www.slcschools.org/departments/community-education/documents/17-18-winter-catalog.pdf
Online registration helps everyone by keeping a person’s chosen class from being cancelled, or even over-booked. For instance, there are only ten kits readily available for Fly Tying. Classes are cancelled if there are less than five students. Online registration starts on January 3 and classes start the week of January 16.
There’s a category called “Enrichment” in the catalog, but O’Neal said, “Everything we offer is an Enrichment Program!” He mentioned the importance of word of mouth recommendations, as Potts also pointed out, which drives many students to try his classes.
O’Neal spoke about a Hip Hop class and an eight-week Zumba class, both taught by Chelsea Fernandez. He also mentioned a Bollywood Dance class taught by Divya Narayanan. Youth Karate is also well-attended, as are computer software classes like Quick Books, Excel, Power Point, and Word. O’Neal said he is always on the lookout for new teachers with good ideas.
Potts’ Ice Fishing class meets in Room 200 on the second floor of West High School’s Main Building, starting at 6:30 p.m. on Monday January 22. There are 4 sessions of two hours each. Potts teaches how to enjoy getting above the winter inversions to bask in the sunshine while catching your evening meal on nearby mountain lakes.
Potts’ Fly Tying class meets the next night, Tuesday January 23 in Room 200 as well, but it meets five times during the course. His Wild Foods Foraging class meets twice a year in spring and autumn for six sessions each and roughly 30 people sign up for the experience. It costs $50.00, but the demand for this process mean that class sizes are limited to just over two dozen people. There’s a strong element of fun in all of Pott's classes as well, and he says “I intend to make it that way.”