By Jessica Williams
331-4352 |
October 7, 2012

BLOOMINGTON — From the flick of a pencil to the click of a camera, Ivy Tech’s noncredit courses are drawing in community members.

The first year the community college’s Center for Lifelong Learning moved to the John Waldron Arts Center, total enrollment in the program rose a whopping 55 percent.

“There is no question this growth is directly attributable to our presence in the Waldron and our new ability to offer arts for both youth and adult audiences,” said Susie Graham, director of the Ivy Tech Center for Lifelong Learning.

That move, from the old train depot now home to Macri’s Deli, happened in April 2010. Prior to the move, the Center for Lifelong Learning offered no youth arts and only a small number of noncredit adult art classes. It didn’t have the space for many offerings.

What a difference location makes.

“Moving into this building transformed our ability to do arts-related programming,” Graham said.

And registrations are still on an upswing. For the 2011-2012 academic year, Center for Lifelong Learning registrations were up 31 percent over the previous year.

Classes are held at several other locations as well, including the main campus on Daniels Way, the Liberty Drive and Liberty Crossing locations, the Bloomington Cooking School and Bell Trace Senior Living Community. The Center for Lifelong Learning also holds classes in Orleans, Mitchell and French Lick.

Cost of classes

In these economic times, Ivy Tech wants these life-enhancing classes to be affordable. The current fall catalog of classes offers for $129 a watercolors class that meets for six Tuesdays, three hours each meeting, for example. A 12-week clay class is $399, while writing classes, which require fewer materials, are in the $27-$49 range.

Graham said she has no way of knowing who out there isn’t taking classes due to a lack of funds.

But the information she does have is stunning.

“What we do know is that we continue to increase in our participants every single semester. I’m pinching myself with this; we are up 9.5 percent over this time last year.”

Every external factor points to a decrease, but Ivy Tech folks aren’t seeing it.

Instead, they can see that what they do is important to people and it isn’t a financial burden, Graham said.

Plus, they offer scholarships for those who need it.

“We try to be responsive to those individual instances when they come to us,” Graham said.

Center a draw for kids

The Center for Lifelong Learning also offers the Ivy Arts for Kids program.

Paul Rogers’ son Ben, 12, has been taking Ivy Arts classes for a couple of years.

The Waldron, Paul said, is a gift to the community.

“The cost is affordable, too,” he said.

Ben’s talented, Paul said, and the teachers at the Waldron bring out his son’s creativity.

Ben, a sixth-grader at Childs Elementary, is into pottery and ceramics and his dad said his son will take more classes at the Waldron in the future.

Bloomington could always use more outlets for creativity, and the Waldron accomplishes that, Paul said.

Ben considers art peaceful, relaxing and a stress reliever.

“I think art is a good outlet to express yourself,” he said.

He likes to sculpt, especially abstract buildings, and he loves his teachers, who are encouraging and help with ideas.

The Rogers family isn’t the only one who sees the Waldron’s classes as beneficial.

Art classes after school give children downtime to be creative and process what’s happening in their lives, said Mary Krupinski.

Her daughter, Alexi Cornett, is a student in the drawing and painting class.

Krupinski said the arts program has provided more exposure to the arts, which teaches kids how to look at things in a new way.

“I think we’re finding that if you have the ability to be a more divergent thinker, that that is really where some of the biggest opportunities in the world can come from,” she said.

Teaching valuable lessons

Hilary Cannon Anderson, the drawing and painting class teacher, said the program is for students who choose to be there, even if they are at different levels.

And she agrees with Krupinski about the benefits of arts education.

“Looking at a problem and being able to solve it in different ways, the same problem but in different ways, being able to look at something and think outside the box, these are skills you need no matter what career you go into,” Anderson said.

She’s been teaching art, in public schools or in private lessons, for years, and has been an artist since she was a child.

Anderson has been teaching in the Ivy Arts for Kids program since last fall.

Alexi Cornett, 11, said she likes after-school courses at the Waldron because they are focused on one medium.

She and her friend, Eliana Silberstein, also 11, enjoy the Waldron classes.

“It’s just something fun and interesting to do,” Eliana said. “And I really like art and I’m always looking for ways to get better.”

Graham doesn’t see the programs trying to fill any gap in arts education. The program attempts to enhance what a child may — or may not — already have. And, the classes aren’t aligned with state standards.

In the classrooms

The noncredit daytime students are mostly age 50 and older, either in retirement or with schedules that allow them to come during the workday, Graham said.

Across the board, the more popular classes are drawing and photography, she added.

The more unusual classes are limestone carving, homesteading, teaching people to live off the land with visits to farms, and de-antiquing, or de-cluttering life by processing items of value and the emotional ties people might experience.

All of these classes Graham hopes to continue.

Although the program’s future is flexible, there are some certainties.

“We will always strive, for whatever we do, to be meaningful, to matter to people, to bring value to what they do,“ Graham said.

On the Web

Visit Ivy Tech Community College’s Center for Lifelong Learning online at Reach the center at 812-330-6041.

The Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center is at 122 S. Walnut St. in downtown Bloomington.

Jenna Smith works on her drawing at a class in the Ivy Tech John Waldron Arts Center in Bloomington. Enrollment in Center for Lifelong Learning classes is booming. Chris Howell | Herald-Times

Instructor Hilary Cannon Anderson helps Jenna Smith, left, with her drawing at a class at the Waldron. At right is Nancy Porter. Chris Howell | Herald-Times

Instructor Marcy Neiditz, left, demonstrates how to prepare clay to her students, Zoe Denommee, left, Ben Rogers, center, Ethan Smith, background, and Emil Wiley Lippke. Chris Howell | Herald-Times

Copyright: 2012

About Ivy Tech Community College

Ivy Tech Community College is Indiana's largest public postsecondary institution and the nation's largest singly accredited statewide community college system, accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. Ivy Tech has campuses throughout Indiana and also serves thousands of students annually online. It serves as the state's engine of workforce development, offering associate degrees, long- and short-term certificate programs, industry certifications, and training that aligns with the needs of the community. The College provides a seamless transfer to other colleges and universities in Indiana, as well as out of state, for a more affordable route to a bachelor's degree.