Continuing Education

Blog Posts

Outside the Classroom: Discussing Intermediate ESL Workshop – Speaking and Listening

Strong instruction frequently inspires strong instructors. Intermediate ESL WorkshopSpeaking and Listening and Listening instructor Mariana Markova is just such a Imageperson. “I had an excellent English teacher when I was in high school - he was probably the best teacher in a city of one-million residents.  At that time I was thinking about my future profession and he was definitely a big influence on me. So I applied to a teacher-training university and got my BA.”

Teaching can be more than rookie instructors bargain on and Markova found herself bracing for some unforeseen bumps in the road of her teaching career. “I wanted to be a friend and I couldn't discipline students” she recalls. “But I learned fast and from then on I knew how to deal with difficult students and everyone loved my classes. I experimented a lot.”

Lesson Plan: Peter Marx Talks About Home Remodeling 101

Peter Marx is a seasoned contractor who’s been improving the homes of other people for more than three decades and helping people pre-plan and resource their home repair and remodeling needs for Imagenearly as long. Unlike the many experience-based classes in Marx’s repertoire, Home Remodeling 101 is more about information and preparation. In this class Marx seeks to help the student put their home remodeling hopes, dreams and strategies into action with the assistance of a competent contractor.

Marx is as hands-on a contractor as he is an instructor. Many of his classes have a tactile component, what he calls his “props.” If he’s demonstrating how to install a switch plate in your home, each student is presented with their own plate, screws and tools to explore the process individually during his tutorials. Though Home Remodeling 101 is about looking at bigger pictures and bigger plans, Marx still insists on having his “props.” In this case, he starts off his class by showing students what a house plan looks like and how to use it.  

Following British Footpaths: A Q & A with Instructor Fred Austin


World traveler Fred Austin takes a moment away from his peripatetic sojourning to talk with CE marketing specialist Cole Hornaday about his path to becoming a professional travel writer along with his wife Donna and why their upcoming class, British Footpaths: The Isle of Wight is one of the best routes to take.  

Q: Please give us some background on your history and love of walking in the British Isles.  When did it first become a passion for you and how did these walking guide books and these classes get started?

British Footpaths was started by Richard Hayward nearly 30 years ago. He loved the British footpaths and started teaching people to follow these easy paths crisscrossing the British Isles.  His students requested guide books to help them follow their passion for walking.  I was one of those students, and I returned over and over to his classes to learn of these magical footpaths.  As Richard battled cancer I helped him to the end and inherited the intellectual property rights to British Footpaths and all the guide books.  My wife Donna and I have been walking and upgrading Richard’s guides and have written a couple of new guides ourselves.  There are now twenty-one small guides and we continue to write and upgrade the series.

The New Meaning of Spring Cleaning

Spring Cleaning.

It’s a phrase we hear a lot, but whose literal application we’ve lost to time and technology. History tells us Spring Cleaning was the traditional practice of thoroughly scouring one’s home after being shuttered through the long winter months, particularly those households foundImage in colder climates. Come the spring, residents would throw wide their doors and windows and sweep all the collected dust and detritus (literally) out the door.

The notion of Spring Cleaning is not particular to a specific culture. In Iran the practice is known as Nowruz and similar efforts are made during Jewish Passover, not to mention the Catholic Church’s practice of Maundy Thursday.

Personalization, Simplification and Abstract Painting

How does an art instructor talk about teaching that’s based on abstract ideas? Clearly, you Imagemust first establish a space where creative thought is welcomed, encouraged and supported. CE Abstract Watercolors and Painting and Abstraction instructor Virginia Paquette has had many years to create, ponder and apply abstract concepts in her classroom and in that time she’s garnered a large circle of enthusiastic, repeat students.

As an artist, Paquette says she is most compelled by a work’s expressiveness. “(I look for) originality—a fresh vision and exciting visual design or an unusual point of view. These are the same things that attract me everywhere in my appreciation of art. Student assignments sometimes are more focused on other things, but good classroom work can be inspired by an open mind and love of the process.”

Beginning Chinese: Learning through Language

Beginning Chinese instructor Craig Shaw has always been a student of history, particularly that of cultures beyond our own. “My parents had lived in rural China during the late 1940s, doing relief work with the American Friends ImageService Committee,” Shaw recalls.  “I grew up hearing their stories.  I was in college in the mid-1970s, which was a very political time, and China was the great unknown, with many idealistic young people projecting their utopian fantasies on Maoist China.  I was curious about what Chinese society was really like, so I took a class in modern Chinese history.  I didn't have to study very long to decide that China was not my idea of a socialist paradise, but I found China fascinating and decided to major in Chinese history.  I ended up writing my senior thesis on Tang and Song dynasty political reforms.”

Valuable Properties: Building a Sturdy Landlord/Tenant Relationship

Landlording 101 instructor Gretchen Bear is a true self-starter. Back when she was a recent newlywed, she and her husband scrimped and saved to buy a house in the Seattle University District intent on turning it into a rental property. “We worked all hours on top of our full time jobs to renovate two Imageadditional apartments in the basement,” says Bear. “We had one month of cash to get them up and rented or we wouldn’t have been able to make the next mortgage payment.”

Learning to landlord from the ground up, she eventually left her full-time corporate job to be a full-time mom and part-time entrepreneur. I started a business called Rental Turnover Services where I offered services such as cleaning, light maintenance and tenant placement services to landlords.  My experience in working with properties of all sizes steered me towards an interest in working with landlords managing small-scale properties as they tend to have more direct contact with their renters.”

Well Practiced: Where Do You Start with Beginning Piano?

As musician and teacher, Beginning Piano instructor Peter Henry admits his career has been all over the map. Where music instruments were concerned, piano was not his initial preference. Though he dabbled in piano in grade school, Imagethe truth of the matter was he was intensely drawn to the cello.  “I fell in love with the cello and played it through college and continued on my own after I moved to Seattle.” He says he came back to piano just for fun, but found it a better companion than the cello when he took up singing. “After a while I became more serious about both piano and singing, and started taking voice and piano lessons, focusing on voice.”

Looking Under the Lid of Fermentation for Flavor and Health

Fermentation for Flavor and Health instructor Kristin Baerg says she was introduced to the many joys and wonders of home fermentation inadvertently back in 2001 while studying Imageherbalism. “I had begun studying with Linda Conroy of Moonwise Herbs as a means of feeling more connected to life,” she recalls. “I took her soda-making class and I was hooked! I ran out and bought a copy of Wild Fermentation by Sandor Elix Katz and thought, ‘This is living!’”

There are numerous forms of fermentation, from bread to beer. However in Baerg’s class students can look forward to learning the finer points of vegetable fermentation or pickling. Lactic acid fermentation is the time-honored process of making delicious dishes like sauerkraut, pickled cucumbers and kimchi. Fermentation of this nature is usually made with salt. Salt encourages the fermentation process by inhibiting the growth of unhealthy microorganisms and support the growth of Lactobacilli. A brine from a previous fermentation process is often used as a starter. Starter, sometimes called the Mother, is essentially a microbial colony and the cook’s fermentation kick starter. As the starter is a collection of living microbes, each colony can be different, and for many cooks and connoisseurs, a starter is something to be developed, prized and nurtured. 

Class Quest: Beginning Bridge—What You Know When You Know It

CE Marketing Specialist Cole Hornaday visits Allan Lazar’s Beginning Bridge class and garners not only an appreciation for the game, but the people devoted to playing it.

Entering the classroom a good 15 minutes early, it’s clear those enrolled in Beginning Bridge are a tight knit group. With their cards fanned out in their hands, the early arrivals look at me expectantly. They immediately ask Imagewho I am, am I a new student and have I ever played bridge? These folks are natural strategists and are already sizing up my worth as a potential teammate...or competitor. I have to disappoint them and say I am merely there to observe.

Contract Bridge or simply Bridge is a cooperative game played by four players, two in partnership. Once the cards are dealt, each player picks up their hand and, beginning with the dealer, makes a call (pass, bid, double or redouble). Each partnership’s aim is to score points by making its bid, or by defeating the opposing partnership's bid. At the end of play, the side with the most points wins. It’s a game for people who people who like rules, order and mastering the details. “It’s a thinking game,” says instructor Allan Lazar. “Learning to play Bridge is like learning a new language. It’s as complicated as chess, maybe even more complicated.” Bridge is a complex game and many in the classroom are either returning students or wayward former players in need of a refresher.

Class Quest: It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing)...

CE programming specialist Janet Sekijima spends an evening observing Celia Boarman’s Beginning Ballroom and Swing students do a little stepping out...without stepping on their partners’ toes.

It’s Thursday night and I’m half an hour late to the Beginning Ballroom and Swing class at Magnuson Park. Walking from the dark parking lot into the bright spacious room at The Brig, class is already in full swing and the room’s full of nine couples practicing the waltz. Celia ImageBoarman, the instructor is saying, “dance is a participatory sport,” and glances at me to join in, but the room is crowded and everyone is already paired up so I take a seat and watch from the sidelines.  Celia is a tall, elegantly dressed woman with the poise and carriage of a dancer.  “Everyone looks really good!” she comments, smiling and nodding.  Some couples look totally at ease and appear to be lost turning in their own private dream as the next incarnation of Fred and Ginger.  Others look to be struggling with scrunched up foreheads and ramrod tight posture.  One man stares down at his feet, ignoring his partner who is desperately trying to read his cues.

Class Quest: Beginning Jewelry Fabrication

This week, CE Marketing Specialist Cole Hornaday peeps over the shoulder of Beginning Jewelry Fabrication instructor Robert Graham and his students to get the basics on handcrafting metals and designing your own works of art.

“There’s going to be a lot of stuff to cover tonight, so make sure you take notes,” advised Beginning Jewelry Fabrication instructor Robert Graham. I’m attending the Tuesday night session of this class, the other is on Wednesdays and taught by Peggy Foy. Though I’m only here to observe, I take notes inImage tandem with the students around me. There’s a lot to absorb, and thanks to Graham’s slide show featuring an intriguing array of pendants and settings, there's a great deal to spark a new jeweler’s imagination.

I haven’t explored jewelry making since I was a teenager, but what I learned then still holds true; skilled jewelers make it all look very easy. Trust me, it’s not. It takes time and practice and the guidance of an instructor like Graham who has mastered the craft and taught its finer points for quite some time.  

Colorful Interplay: A Q&A with Instructor Barbara Oakley

Continuing Education (CE) instructor Barbara Oakley has a love of language, literature and learning as well as a mind for organizational leadership. This winter she draws together her wide-ranging talents Imageand professional experience with her two classes, Introduction to Quilting and Start Your Own Non-Profit on a Shoestring.  

Q: This quarter you’ll be teaching a two wildly different courses. How did you find yourself translating these diverse interests into teaching opportunities?

I know, they are very different subject areas, aren’t they?  I admit, I have a lot of interests.  I do always want to keep learning new things – and sharing what I know with others.  Teaching is a great way for me to share my knowledge.  I already teach several sewing and quilting classes in the Northgate area and I was looking for additional opportunities to expand that base.  I’ve taken other CE classes at North Seattle College before, so it was an obvious choice for me.

Compressed for Time: Exploring Time Lapse Photography

We all know time lapse photography when we see it.  It’s an artistic and technological feat that allows Imagethe photographer to distill an indeterminate period of time into mere moments. Watching a single seed sprout and blossom into a flower or following the trajectory of celestial bodies across the heavens seldom ceases to amaze, and though we’ve all marveled at the imagery for generations, few have had the opportunity to master the process. This winter, renowned CE photography instructor Steve Kidd explores the art and mechanics of this sped up visual narrative in his new class, Time Lapse Photography.

Time lapse photography is an interesting hybrid art form, nestled somewhere between point and shoot photography and motion picture filmmaking. “I definitely think of it more as filmmaking than a static image,” says Kidd. “When thinking of the rules of composition, the two are pretty much the same, but that’s kind of where the similarities end in my opinion.”

Short-Term Commitment Classes: Brief on Time, Big on Content

At a loss for time in your schedule to enroll in a class that meets more than a time or three, but feel the urge to stretch your creative muscles, expand your horizons and feed your hungry mind? Here are Imagesome Continuing Education classes capacious in content that won’t dominate your schedule.

Cognac and Armagnac
If you’re a whiskey lover, Cognac and Armagnac will open your eyes to a whole new world of barrel-aged spirits. In this experiential class, you will be introduced to the two most famous brandies in the world while exploring the history, production, and grading process to make you a Cognac and Armagnac connoisseur. 1 session, $39

How to Start a Small Food Business
Set a strong foundation for your dream as an experienced food entrepreneur. Be guided through the process of not only starting the business but the cost of products, preparing food-specific business plans and how to obtain health and other required permits. 2 session, $155

Un-Retiring, Re-Careering and the Second Half of Life

Change is inevitable, though most of us do everything in our power to avoid it. We prefer to seek a path of least possible resistance and establish a comfortable, if not predictable flow to our daily lives. Retirement is the one Imagemighty course change many of us anticipate with great joy and trepidation. Thankfully, Continuing Education instructor Mariko Navin has made a career of leading students through those inevitable changes and more in her course, Midlife through Retirement: A Catalyst for Change.

Little intrigues Navin more than helping folks net all the ingredients they need to formulate a successful “Second Half” of life. “I wanted to offer an interactive workshop-style course that could provide structure, resources, and support to help individuals identify for themselves what mattered most at this point in their lives and to start taking action to bring these things to the fore,” says Navin. “Small incremental changes can lead to bigger changes over time, and I wanted to provide an opportunity for people seeking to reexamine their lives and to intentionally create change a place to do so within a community of others.”

Mindfulness in the Classroom: Managing Student and Teacher Self-Care

Of late we hear the term Mindfulness with a growing degree of frequency. It’s a meditation trend that’s become more and more commonplace in the home, workplace and particularly the classroom. ImagePractitioners describe Mindfulness as the ability to be fully present and aware of one’s surroundings while maintaining a meditative distance from outside stimuli.  “Mindfulness is the ability to attend to one’s present experience with self-caring,” says Mindfulness for Teachers – Self-Care and Student Focus instructor Andrea D’Asaro. “This process of checking in with oneself reduces both teacher and student stress.”

Meet Our New Program Coordinator, Riley Thomas!

Before joining us in Continuing Education (CE), Riley was a Program Coordinator Imagewith North Seattle College Admissions, Registration, Records & Credentials (ARC). Thanks to her past work experience, Riley not only brings a strong working knowledge of college systems, but a built-in appreciation for North’s community and culture.

Please join us in welcoming Riley to the CE team!

What is your favorite thing about Continuing Education?

The opportunities Continuing Education provides for personal growth, development, and enrichment. Each class is a unique opportunity!

The Lay of the Land: Discussing Beginning Landscape Painting

Continuing Education painting instructor David Verba is one of those rare artists who can deftly go from expressing himself through realistic imagery to the abstract and back again. You can see itImage in his own work and the classes he elects to teach. This winter he’ll introduce Beginning Landscape Painting into his teaching repertoire, affording students the opportunity to explore a whole new terrain of creative self-expression.

As a subject, landscapes are as much a standard for painters as the still lives and live models. Verba believes painters hold a fascination with landscape painting because the basic ingredients of shape, color and composition are literally built into the subject matter. “There are things we are all familiar with; trees, hills, steams, etc.  With those basic shapes artists in the last five hundred plus years have found countless ways to interpret them in paint on canvas,” he says.  “Those interpretations range from the highly stylized, to the romanticized, to the mystical, to the strictly representational. There is something to be learned from all the different approaches to painting a landscape.”

Getting the Job Done: The Finer Points of How to Start and Operate a Small Business

Many ambitious individuals dream of taking permanent leave from the 9 to 5 workforce and starting their own small business. Sadly, though entrepreneurial spirit is willing and able, experience and Imageacumen are not always part of the equations as many new businesses falter and close within a few years of their inception. Through his CE course How to Start and Operate a Small Business, instructor Michael Odell seeks to help new proprietors apply their passion to a sustainable business model. According to Odell, the whole game plan is moot without that entrepreneurial spirit. “In business as in life, the entrepreneurial spirit requires a positive attitude and the desire to succeed,” says Odell. “Both life and business are ongoing journeys. To successfully make that journey one needs a set of clearly defined goals. Goals provide directional signposts along our journey.”

Language Liaison: Talking with Instructor Louise Morehead

Continuing Education instructor Louise Morehead can trace her love of language back to a particular point in her Imagechildhood; when she was taken not only with the speech of another culture, but to the universal language of music. “A combination of musical training and a wonderful language-learning program in my elementary school provided me with key elements that would facilitate many of my adult activities; among them, learning languages,” she recalls. “I believe I was in fourth grade when dear Miss Johnson began pushing her Spanish-teaching cart of tapes, headphones, colorful posters, and a tape recorder to every classroom in the school. Pupils throughout the elementary school benefited from 15 or 20 minutes of Spanish every day. Songs, skits, sayings, poetry, and the good old Hola, Isabel! dialogue livened up our classroom.” She says by the time she reached high school she was well-qualified to take on the more serious and advanced Spanish classes the highly-rated New York Metropolitan Area secondary school system had to offer.  

Wishing on a "Wish Book"

There was a time when the postal carrier delivered dreams to our doorsteps. Gift catalogs were once Imageall the rage with their arrival signifying the coming of the holiday season. Bearing names like Sears and Roebuck, Montgomery Wards or JC Penny these “wish books” were heavy as dictionaries and colorful as wrapping paper. Young and old alike could be found tucking a catalog under their arms and sneaking off to a quiet corner to pour over the goodies within; indicating their gift wishes by scribbling their initials in the margins, dog-earing the pages or simply tearing out an image and posting it in a central location of the home…like the refrigerator.

Creating Confidence with ESL

Many native English speakers enter a classroom to learn a foreign language as a requirement for earning a degree or in anticipation of a trip abroad.  Few native English speakers know the challenges of being a newcomer in a foreign Imageland, come in search of a new life, hoping to acclimate themselves to a new language and culture.  Continuing Education now offers a wide range of classes for non-native speakers, from ESL to TOEFL/IELTS test preparation, to immersive conversation. Learning to navigate a new language is challenging, but not impossible.  And best of all? You don’t have to figure it out alone.

Documentaries for the Lifelong Learner

Documentary film has the potential to serve us in any number of ways; it enlightens, educates and maintains an Imagehistorical record.  Documentary film can also inspire. Assembled below are a handful of documentary films chosen to either enhance your appreciation for a subject you already love or one you may have considered exploring more deeply.


Minnesota Potters: Sharing the Fire
Become acquainted with the lives and work of eight Minnesota potters - four pairs of artists whose unique relationships celebrate some of the many ways that knowledge, experience and spirit is passed from person to person in the inspiration and creation of ceramics.

Opening the Doors to Access

In an age where information is a key commodity, successfully organizing, processing and applying Imagethese vital (yet intangible) goods is paramount. A tool sure to help streamline the whole process is Microsoft Access. According to Access instructor Jeffrey Richards, it’s important to know the distinction between data and information when talking about database management systems. “Information is insight, data is just numbers or characters,” says Richards. “Data is something to be organized and managed in order to record transactions (often within a business). In Access, it means setting up and relating datasheets properly and filling in information in a timely manner (perhaps using a form). Information, on the other hand, is used to drive, summarize, and even predict the business, and for this queries and reports are used in Access.”