Rose Bennett Gilbert, TrusteeSouth Orange-Maplewood Adult School

Rose Bennett Gilbert, Trustee
South Orange-Maplewood Adult School

Learn, Baby, Learn!’ 

SOUTH ORANGE-MAPLEWOOD ADULT SCHOOL

HITS 80, PICKING UP SPEED! 

Learn, Baby, Learn!” would be a fitting new credo as the South Orange-Maplewood Adult School heads into its 80th anniversary year in 2013.

The school, aka SOMAS, has always kept up with the times.  So even if it sticks with its traditional “Lifelong Learning” mantra, SOMAS will go right on adapting its curriculum to the changing needs of the community.

In fact, SOMAS owes its very existence to the communities’ response to an international crisis, The Great Depression, that gripped the world in l933.  In a time of despair, when people had little hope and less money, a core of local educators got together and created a bright new local attraction, an independent non-profit school where everyone could afford classes that informed and entertained.

THE GO-TO PLACE FOR FUN

“It was a beacon of hope in those dark days,” says Sue Marcus, who has directed SOMAS for the past l8 years. Only the fourth director in the school’s long history, she will be retiring in May.  But SOMAS will continue on into its eighth decade as the go-to place to learn new skills and have fun.

There’s something for everyone in the curriculum, from cutting-edge classes in computer skills to classes in the ancient practice of T’ai Chi.  Students can learn to take professional-quality photos, write successful grants, grow great vegetables, and cook fabulous meals.  They can study home repair and furniture refinishing, the art of painting and the art of self-defense, music, dance …more than 180 classes altogether that draw some 1,600 students every year. In addition to annual favorites, this spring offers new classes, such as Be Your Own Film Critic, Who’s Afraid of Opera, The Six Hour Art Major, Writing for the Web, Edible Decorations and How to Stage your Home for the Successful Sale.

SOMAS will also be leading excursions to cultural attractions such as the Culinary Institute and Vanderbilt Mansion, Tanglewood, and the Philadelphia Flower Show.  And more on-line classes conducted via cyber space make learning easy for today’s time-strapped students.

GET SERIOUS, TOO

Learning can also be serious business. SOMAS has offered a vital English as a Second Language program since 1937, and the need escalates with every wave of new immigrants.  Serving nearly 500 people from more than 45 countries each year, both ESL courses funded by the  N.J. Department of Labor and for-fee ESL courses are offered at the Adult School.

Also to be taken seriously:  the Eva Samo lecture series, which wrestles with critical current events, and the highly touted College for a Day on April 20, which will be filled with provocative lectures by a faculty of first-rate professors from major colleges and universities.  These are classes for the curious, with no quizzes attached.

NOT JUST FOR GROWN-UPS

Nor does SOMAS serve adults alone.  Deeply committed to this community, the Adult School has been a springboard for programs that make local life easier and richer.  In 1974, working in coalition with other community groups, the school initiated a children’s enrichment and sports camp that now puts more fun in summer for over 1,000 children every year.  And it was the Adult School that helped form the After School Program in 1982, and, in 1991, launch the First Night New Year’s Eve celebrations that ran for 21 festive years.

Attention has been paid.  In 2000, the school was designated a “Local Legacy” by the Library of Congress, sharing the spotlight in Washington with other outstanding organizations from across the country    Closer to home, the South Orange Civic Association has honored SOMAS with its “Beloved Community Award,” and the Maplewood Township Committee officially applauded the Adult School for its achievements when it celebrated its first 75 years in 2008.

Along the way, SOMAS has also attracted a number of other fans, local supporters known as Friends.  A good thing, too, because the school operates on its own with no funding from the Board of Education.   There is a staff of full- and part-time workers who organize and administer the program, and an active Board of Trustees, volunteers all.

STAR-STUDDED CELEBRATION

Fundraising ventures have resulted in still more SOMAS gifts to the South Orange-Maplewood community.  Best known is Celebrity Readings, a gala annual event that brings local theatre stars out to share their talents in an evening of great fun and entertainment. This year’s Celebrity Readings event is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 4, and will feature Norbert Leo Butz and Michelle Federer.

Also among the many upcoming events celebrating eight decades in the community will be the Adult School’s 80th Anniversary Cocktail Gala on May 4.

Meanwhile, SOMAS is currently accepting registrations for spring classes. See the full listing of course offerings and register online at www.somadultschool.org. You may also register by phone at (973) 378-7620.

JOIN THE PARTY!

Join the Party_web

Spring Catalog Flip Book Now Available Online

spring2013_coverREGISTER NOW FOR SPRING CLASSES AT THE ADULT SCHOOL

To view a flip book of the spring catalog, click here.

With over 170 classes to choose from, the Adult School has something for everyone. Here are a few of our spring highlights:

CHILDREN’S ENRICHMENT SATURDAYS starting February 2

EVA SAMO LECTURE SERIES: Issues in the News

Donna Lieberman of NYCLU on April 15
Karen J. Greenberg of the Center on National Security on April 22
Diane Archer of the Institute For America’s Future on April 29
Rosanne Altshuler of Rutgers on May 6

COLLEGE FOR A DAY on April 20

80TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION on May 4

ANNUAL MEETING WITH BRIAN LEHRER on May 15

DAY TRIPS
The Culinary Institute of America and Vanderbilt Mansion,
Philadelphia Flower Show and/or the Pennslyvania Academy
of Fine Arts, Thomas Edison National Historical Park

AND MUCH, MUCH MORE!!!

Save the Date for CELEBRITY READINGS on MONDAY, NOVEMBER 4TH
FEATURING NORBERT LEO BUTZ AND MICHELLE FEDERER

To register, visit www.somadultschool.org or call (973) 378-7620.

Home (Repair) for the Holidays

giftguideadThe other day I went down to the basement to do some laundry and found water shooting out of a box on the wall; it was pooling all over the floor. I stared at it in shock and then quickly shut the door and ran upstairs to put in an SOS call to my husband at work. His assistant said he was on a conference call and would be unavailable for the next hour. I was officially stumped. My experience with home repair is so woeful I wasn’t even sure how to describe what was happening let alone who (other than my husband) to call to fix it; the idea of trying to fix it myself is about as unlikely as me offering to put together the latest Ikea purchase that inevitably arrives in about 100 pieces. I went back downstairs and unplugged something near the water-spouting box. I have no idea what the plug was for but figured it couldn’t hurt to unplug it (??!). The water actually stopped so I assumed I did the right thing. I mopped up the water on the floor, went upstairs and waited for my husband to call me back.

As I was waiting, it occurred to me that there was this alternate existence available to me where I didn’t have to be a helpless damsel in distress who waits for her husband to come and rescue her when something like this goes wrong. I like to think of myself as a progressive, strong woman but somehow I have taken on a stereotypical role where I manage the cooking, cleaning and childcare, and my husband takes care of the house repairs, landscaping and car maintenance. This division of labor generally works for us, and there are only so many hours in a day, but I’d love it if I could be a little more empowered when it comes to the inner workings of our home. When my husband got home (and discovered the water was again shooting out of the “box” and all over the floor) he made it pretty clear that he would enthusiastically support any endeavor that had to do with me being a little more capable in the home repair department.

This was when I had my brilliant idea. Every year I rack my brain trying to come up with a Christmas gift for my husband. This year I will sign up for the Adult School’s Do it Yourself Home Repair class that begins on March 5 and that would be his Christmas gift. It’s a win win situation for the Cook family.

P.S. Apparently the malfunctioning box was the humidifier that is attached to our furnace. I would give further details but as my husband was explaining what had happened my eyes glazed over and I started planning this blog entry. I promise to pay more attention in class.

The South-Orange Maplewood Adult School’s spring catalog will be in your mailboxes soon. Our online catalog is now available at www.somadultschool.org and registration is open for spring classes.

Like us on Facebook for all the latest class information and specials.

Just Keep Learning Part 5

MEET THE ADULT SCHOOL STUDENTS

Marianne Lloyd

Marianne Lloyd

What’s your name and occupation?
Marianne Lloyd, Associate Professor of Psychology at Seton Hall University

Where do you live?
Maplewood

Which class(es) have you taken at the South Orange-Maplewood Adult School?
First Time Homebuyers

What’s one unexpected thing you learned in the class?
That there are special loans if you buy a fixer-upper. We didn’t go this route but it made looking at such options less intimidating.

What motivates you to keep learning?
In order to be an effective educator, it’s important for me to remember what it feels like to learn something for the first time.

What class would you like to take in the future?
Anything being offered by Ben Salmon and Kitchen A La Mode.

What’s your favorite thing about living in Maplewood/South Orange?
The people. From the welcoming parishioners of St. Joseph’s Parish who have helped me to revitalize my faith, to the fellow new moms in Mothers & More who helped me to survive my first year of parenthood, to the women who meet up for 6am runs who have helped me stay in shape physically and mentally, every aspect of my life has been enriched by living here. I had no idea when I took a job at SHU that I was also starting a life in such a fine community.

Another Coup for the Adult School

Sue Marcus,Executive Director

Sue Marcus,
Executive Director

Have you been following the three piece series about Corporate Welfare in the Times this week? The series was investigated and written by Louise Story who spoke at the Adult School as part of the Eva Samo Lecture Series last spring. This coming spring we have Donna Lieberman of the New York Civil Liberties Union speaking, as well as Diane Archer, co-director of the Health Care for All Project at the Institute for America’s Future, and Karen J. Greenberg of the Center on National Security at Fordham Law. Don’t miss this exciting series starting on April 15, 2013. The Adult School does get great speakers!!

Just Keep Learning Part 4

MEET THE ADULT SCHOOL STUDENTS

Joy Friedman and family

Joy Friedman and family

What’s your name and occupation?

Joy Friedman, Supervisory Investigator with the Department of Labor

Where do you live?

Maplewood, NJ

Which classes have you taken at the Adult School?

Zumba (took the class twice)
Yoga (took the class twice)
Aqua aerobics (once)
Photography (once)
Gardening (once)
Defensive Driving class (once)

I enjoyed each of the classes I’ve taken there.  I came away learning something new from each class.  My favorite class was Gardening.  I was a complete novice when I started taking the class and by the end of the year-long session I had grown all different types of flowers and vegetables.  In fact, my 5-year-old daughter, Lydia joined me in class on Sunday mornings to help me plant and prune my flowers and vegetables.  It was a great experience for both of us!

What’s your favorite thing about living in South Orange/Maplewood?

The proximity to the city, diversity and small town community feel. I also love the parks, libraries, restaurants, Maplewoodstock (never miss it!), and community pools.

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