Expanding classes, expanding minds.

Expanding classes, expanding minds.

Gulf Coast State College Gulf/Franklin Campus will launch its next semester of adult-focused Education Encore classes in January with registration opening next month.

The encore program, which offers non-credit classes across a range of topics and interests, will begin Jan. 25, and according to coordinator Quen Lamb, this year’s curriculum will undergo an expansion.

While previous encore classes lasted six weeks, that number has increased to eight weeks, offering students the chance delve deeper into their interests.

“Education Encore is such a great program,” Lamb said. “It offers learning and fun with non-credit courses and offers citizens a chance to learn and have fun while meeting new people.”

Classes will be held every Wednesday for eight weeks across three different time periods beginning at 9 a.m., 10 a.m. or 11 a.m. ET.

Regular courses offered in the Encore program include basic computer skills, drawing, writing, yoga, meditation, jewelry-making, painting, ukulele basics and Tai Chi. Courses added for the spring semester will include boat safety, exercise stretching and more.

Additionally, the computer basics class will be offered in the evenings along with its daytime counterpart.

“We realized many of the people who need that class are working during the day,” Lamb said.

Due to popular demand, Kesley Colbert’s history classes are once again being expanded to two different subjects.

This semester Colbert will dedicate one class to World War II and another to exploring the most influential people in history.

“Kesley is our most popular teacher,” Lamb said. “People just love him. He has a great delivery and he makes the information very interesting and very humorous.”

While classes are open to any adult, Lamb said the audience skews older with senior citizens and snowbirds making up the majority of the student body.

“The people who visit want to do something while they’re here,” Lamb said. “Snowbirds don’t want to spend their entire trips fishing or on the beach, they’re motivated to learn something new.”

For $88 students will be able to choose from up to three classes, and while the price is a small step up from last semester, Lamb said it helps to pay instructors for the two additional weeks of the program.

Instructors for the courses come from Gulf County, Panama City, Apalachicola and Eastpoint, selected by the college for being knowledgeable in their fields and excited about the material.

“This is a reasonable price to receive education on something you’re interested in,” Lamb said. “Our teachers are experts in what they’re teaching. A lot of them come because they have a hobby they feel strongly about.

“They’re enthusiastic, like to teach and like helping people.”

The January 2016 semester broke program records with 142 students participating, a feat Lamb said he intended to duplicate for the fall.

Lamb’s long-term goals for the program are to ultimately offer the encore classes in Franklin County, which the campus also serves, but to make them more accessible by cutting out the commute.

Applications for classes will be available beginning Jan. 18 and must be received by Jan. 25. Online registration will soon be available, but in the meantime, students may register in-person at the Gulf/Franklin Campus at 3800 Garrison Ave. in Port St Joe.

Orientation will be held at 1 p.m. ET Jan. 18. Classes will run Jan. 25 through March 15.

Lamb expressed excitement about the educational opportunities it will continue to offer far into the future.

“I believe in the encore program,” Lamb said. “I think people like having these classes. There are a lot of people who want this type of education.”

For more information on Education Encore, contact Lamb directly at 227-9670, ext. 5519 or Andi Morgan at extension 5504.