Free Classes, Hitting It Big

Harper College is daring you to learn something new. As part of its first-ever Celebration of Learning Month, the College's Continuing Education Department is letting Northwest suburban residents dabble in a new skill - for free.


Free Classes

Harper College is daring you to learn something new. As part of its first-ever Celebration of Learning Month, the College's Continuing Education Department is letting Northwest suburban residents dabble in a new skill - for free. Harper will offer a unique fair of August mini-classes - covering everything from aviation and web design to cooking and meditation - in the form of free sessions lasting between 30 minutes and 2 hours. The sessions, open to all, will provide a sneak peek into Continuing Education's fall catalogue. "This is a great way to get the feel of different classes and interact with our instructors and potential classmates," Continuing Education Marketing Specialist Kari Hill says. "Every semester, we offer a variety of great courses, and we really want to showcase that. Our hope is that people will try things for free and, of course, want to come back to learn even more." A Lifelong Learning Institute preview kicks off the series on August 4 with discussions and lectures for adults 55 years and older. A free computer training series aimed at hands-on instruction in Windows, Flash animation, graphic arts and website building will follow. From 6 to 10 p.m. Thursday, August 19, the College will host a full slate of free information sessions and mini-classes featuring language instruction, a cinematography discussion, and art workshops on calligraphy, drawing, photography and glassblowing. For a full schedule or to RSVP, visit or call 847.925.6300.

Press Contact: Melanie Krakauer, Media Relations and Marketing Intern, 847.925.6000, ext. 2561,

Hitting it Big

Accustomed to jamming in your garage? Harper College can teach you the tricks for getting your music heard. The College this fall will launch a new series of classes on the modern commercial music business - courses aimed at helping musicians understand what it takes to hit it big and arming them with the skills to do it. The "Get Out of the Garage" series includes classes on maximizing rehearsal time; clarifying your niche; marketing your music, designing websites and seizing social media opportunities to promote your band; and the fundamentals of sound recording. One course, "Mentored Rehearsals," grants students in-person rehearsal critiques from professional jazz pianist Ken Spurr, who will watch bands rehearse on Harper's campus and then work with them to hone their performance skills, music choices and arrangements and their overall look. Spurr, a regular on Chicago's music scene for more than a decade, has performed with major artists and recorded with others. "The whole focus of this series is to provide real ways for performing musicians in all genres to cultivate their skills and learn to better promote themselves and their bands," says Henrietta Neeley, coordinator of Harper's Community Music Center. "To succeed, you need to know the business of modern commercial music, including marketing and presentation, and that's what we're offering." Classes start the week of Monday, August 23. To register, call 847.925.6300 or visit

Press Contact: Erin Brooks, Media Relations Specialist, 847.925.6159,


Special Needs Cooking

As a chef with more than two decades of culinary experience, John Filler recognizes the value of knowing how to cook. As the father of a 25-year-old daughter with Down Syndrome, he also recognizes the value of group learning opportunities for adults with special needs. Filler, Harper College's manager of dining and conference services, will blend the two this fall in a new College course that teaches kitchen safety, sanitation and cooking basics to special needs adults. "My daughter, Diana, asks sometimes if she can help us cook at home, and I realized that a class like this could be a great way for her to learn important skills while also meeting more of her peers," Filler said. "I think there is a tremendous need for this kind of instruction." He says the course, offered through the College's Continuing Education department, is the only one of its kind in the area. The class will teach beginning cooking techniques adapted to the students' needs. Students will learn to tear lettuce for salads, cut vegetables using a plastic serrated knife, create tasty sandwiches and whip up smoothies with the help of a blender. Filler also will teach sanitation and refrigerator organization; non-latex, powder-free gloves will be provided. "By introducing them to culinary skills in such a supportive atmosphere, I hope to ease any fears of the kitchen or of food creation," Filler says. "I want them to take what they learn and become great cooking assistants at home." The class will demonstrate basic recipes, but, by the course's end, the students also will create their own menus based on their newfound skills. "The fun," Filler says, "will be in seeing what they can create." Filler has been in the food service industry for 25 years, working in restaurants, hotels, the fast-food industry and retail food services. The class meets 6:30 to 8 p.m. Tuesdays, August 24 through October 12. It's open to special needs adults ages 18 and older; the cost is $99. To register or for more information, call 847.925.6300.

Media Note: Photographers and reporters are welcome to sit in on a class. Contact Erin Brooks, Media Relations Specialist, 847.925.6159,, to arrange a time.


Play Auditions

Auditions for Harper College's fall production of Irwin Shaw's "Bury the Dead" will be held from 7 to 10 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, September 8 and 9 in the Drama Lab, Room L109, Building L on Harper's main campus, 1200 W. Algonquin Road in Palatine. The play, directed by Professor Laura Pulio Colbert through the Harper Ensemble Theatre Company, will run November 12, 13 and 14 and November 19, 20 and 21. Auditions are open to community members; male and female actors of varying ages - from 18 to 65 - are needed. All roles are open. Auditions will require a prepared monologue from contemporary American theater. To schedule an appointment or for more information, contact

Press Contact: Erin Brooks, Media Relations Specialist, 847.925.6159,


College Jumpstart

Last year, her first at Harper College, Candace Scott made herself promise: She'd finish this journey - and, in doing so, become the first in her family to graduate college. "I've had cousins who've tried but dropped out," she said. "I'm sticking with it." With one year now firmly under her belt, she's staying true to her word. Scott was bolstered by the College's R.E.A.C.H. Summer Bridge Program - a support system for incoming freshmen and first-generation college students aimed at helping them thrive at Harper - and her success story isn't unusual among the program's enrollees. Since its inception five years ago, Bridge has fostered many triumphs. Its graduates have gone on to have notably higher GPAs and better success rates (defined as earning a C or better in their courses) than peers at a similar academic level who didn't complete Bridge. They also were more apt to stick with college after making it through the first semester. This summer, more students than ever - about 125 - have signed on. They're spending two weeks brushing up on essential reading, writing and mathematics skills, learning strategies for an effective college transition, and picking up time-management and study tips. Like the rest of Harper's new students, the group also will take an online assessment that determines their top characters strengths - information that will then help them choose their courses, prospective majors or potential career paths. "Our goal at Harper has always been to help every student succeed, and that is exactly what this program accomplishes," says Laura LaBauve-Maher, Associate Dean in the Center for Multicultural Learning and one of the program's coordinators. "These students walk out of here with new friends, a familiarity with the campus, an idea of what college life is like and, most importantly, the knowledge that they're not in this alone and the confidence to realize their dreams." A graduation ceremony, set for 2 p.m. Tuesday, August 10, will honor the achievements of this year's Bridge participants.

Media Note: Bridge participants and graduates are available for interviews. Contact Erin Brooks, Media Relations Specialist, 847.925.6159,


Helping More Women

When 33-year-old Aisha Sheppard decided to return to college, the single mom and domestic survivor signed on for Harper College's Women's Program. The Streamwood resident is fiercely determined to get her degree, and she says the Program - which provides career planning, tuition help, life skills and education support to single parents, domestic violence victims, displaced homemakers and others - will offer an extra layer of support as she heads back to class. "It makes it a lot easier to get through college with resources and help like this," Sheppard says. "It really helps to know I have this after the things I have been through." Her story is not unusual. Enrollment in Harper's Rita and John Canning Women's Program has soared in the last two years, climbing from about 350 students in the 2007-2008 academic year to 440 students in 2008-2009 and 550 students in 2009-2010. Director Kathleen Canfield says the cumulative 60 percent participation gain is a byproduct of the poor economy. "Unfortunately, in difficult times, the number of women who need help increases," Canfield says. "They see us as the hope and help that they need to get through all of this." Some women, after years at home, may be seeking an education to help with a new job search, she says; studies also have shown domestic violence increases amid financially stressful times. A state grant that helped pay for the Program for more than 15 years was cut in 2008. Today, Harper's Women's Program is one of the last of its kind still operating in Illinois, and relies heavily on donations to move forward. "Those donations are absolutely critical to our survival at this point. Without it, many women simply will not be able to receive the help that they so desperately need," Canfield says. For graduate Henya Pappas,

the Women's Program brought needed support in the wake of a rough divorce, helping her secure scholarships, determine her academic path and regain her self-esteem. She's since earned her Nursing degree and landed a job. "I definitely would still be curled up in a ball, not knowing how to make ends meet, without the Women's Program," says Pappas, 49, of Mount Prospect. "It's huge to have that support and direction and guidance - and someone telling you that, yes, you can do it. If it wasn't for the Women's Program, I never would be where I am right now." A "100 Influential Women" campaign was launched in 2009 with a goal of raising $100,000 for Harper's Women's Program. To donate, or for more information on the Women's Program or other support opportunities, call 847.925.6490 or visit

Press Contact: Erin Brooks, Media Relations Specialist, 847.925.6159,

Ageless Learning

Shirley Garrison is an 82-year-old retiree. She's also a Harper College student. The Arlington Heights resident eagerly signed up for eight classes this spring and has happily worked her way through a cornucopia of courses through the years, including a recent favorite that addressed the differences in cultures across the world. Her vehicle: Harper's Lifelong Learning Institute, a just-for-seniors program dedicated to exposing those over 55 to the joy of continued learning. Launched in 2003, the Institute now boasts more than 500 non-credit courses in a host of subjects - from history and art to science, philosophy and music - and also offers regional trips and tours and one-session lectures. Harper will offer a Program Preview of the Lifelong Learning Institute from 9 a.m. to noon on Wednesday, August 4 in the Performing Arts Center on the main campus, 1200 W. Algonquin Road in Palatine. Attendees will be able to visit classes and meet instructors; enjoy free refreshments; sign up for courses; and learn more about the Institute's offerings. Garrison, who teaches a class on "Writing Your Life Story" in addition to taking courses herself, says she appreciates the Institute as much for what it provides - camaraderie and fun-filled learning - as for what it leaves out: no tests, no textbooks, no papers and no grades. "You just go in there and enjoy it. It thrills me," Garrison says. "I can't imagine why anyone wouldn't want to keep their mind going like this." Lifelong Learning Institute courses are held in a variety of locations around the suburbs, including on Harper's main campus; most run during daytime hours Monday through Thursday. Among the fall options: a Civil War series focused on the war that helped shape America; exercise classes; a course on Chicago mob history; a how-to session on downsizing your home; a seminar - complete with pictures and artifacts - looking back on the 1950s; field trips to the Art Institute and the Mayslake Peabody Estate in DuPage County; and a collection of "Pizza with the Professor" lectures allowing participants to lunch and learn with Harper instructors. "We truly do offer something for everyone," says Kathy Swan of Harper's Continuing Education Department. "Our program encourages people to get out there and learn something new and maybe make some new friends in the process." Call 847.925.6300 or visit to reserve a spot at the annual Program Preview.

Media Note: Many Lifelong Learning Institute participants are in their 80s. For interviews with those students and tips on staying young through learning, contact Erin Brooks, Media Relations Specialist, 847.925.6159.


Photo Opportunities

Event: InZone summer kids camp. Courses include fishing, cooking, film, fashion and more.

Date: Mondays-Thursdays through August 12 (call for best days and times)

Location: Campus-wide

Press Contact: Erin Brooks, Media Relations Specialist, 847.925.6159,


Event: Lifelong Learning Institute Program Preview. The event will showcase Harper's program for those ages 55 and older; seniors can visit classes and meet instructors.

Date: 9 a.m. to noon Wednesday, August 4

Location: Performing Arts Center

Press Contact: Erin Brooks, Media Relations Specialist, 847.925.6159,


Event: Summer Bridge Program closing ceremony

Date: 2 p.m. Tuesday, August 10

Location: Room E106, Building E

Press Contact: Erin Brooks, Media Relations Specialist, 847.925.6159,


Event: Astronomical Viewing. Harper's free viewings can draw more than 100 stargazers, who use the College's main observatory telescope or others set out on the lawn.

Date: 8:30 to 10 p.m. Friday, August 13

Location: Karl G. Henize Observatory on the main campus (use Euclid Avenue entrance)

Press Contact: Erin Brooks, Media Relations Specialist, 847.925.6159,


Event: Open House featuring series of free open-to-the-public mini-classes. Sessions on French, cinematography, drawing, photography, glassblowing and more will be available for all.

Date: 6 to 10 p.m. Thursday, August 19

Location: Building V

Press Contact: Erin Brooks, Media Relations Specialist, 847.925.6159,