Adults go back to school too

Many kindergarteners bounce with excitement on their first day at school; many more-experienced children whine about the start of a new school year. Adult students tend to be more like kindergartners: thrilled to step into a classroom. Regardless of whether they’re learning for credit, professional development, or personal enjoyment, they’re glad to be delving into new areas of interest or gaining new skills that will enrich their careers and lives.

Some of the new personal enrichment courses Continuing Studies is offering for such nontraditional students this fall include: Irish Film, Wisconsin Electoral History, Beginning Russian, Writing Your Life Story, Making Money with Your Photography, and Harmony at the Keyboard.

Social workers and mental health professionals can explore these new offerings to update their expertise: Powerful Negotiation Techniques, Domestic Violence, New Wisconsin Law about Pregnancy and Alcohol, and Self-Destructive Adolescents.

Some adults are overjoyed to enroll in university classes because for many years they thought the combination of child-raising, work, and lack of finances made higher education impossible for them.

UW-Madison Continuing Studies Prof. Emily Auerbach established the Odyssey Project for these adults.  She has led the successful program, teaching 30 adults in a free three-credit UW humanities course, for the last 10 years. Look for upcoming news abut the October celebration of Odyssey’s tenth anniversary.

Oroki Rice, an Odyssey graduate who is working to complete her bachelor’s degree, wrote the following poem about her memory of first grade. 

First Grade
by Oroki Rice, Odyssey Project graduate ’07

Chicago’s Westside
Theodore Herzl Public School
Teacher: Mrs. Cecilia Castile
She’s pretty, she’s colored.
It’s her first year as a teacher.
We students are many varied shades:
Chocolate, Coffee, Tan, Russet-
Potato, High-Yellow, Dark, Real Dark, Black.
Mrs. Castile presents us with a
used reader, delivered from the white schools.
The reader is named Look and See.
It is accompanied by a workbook named Think and Do.
In my reader and workbook I meet new friends, pink friends.
There’s Dick and Jane,
their little sister Sally with curly, yellow hair,
their Mom and Dad, their cat, Puff, and their dog, Spot.
I love school.
I love Mrs. Castile.
I love reading, but something seems wrong somewhere.
I spent years with Dick, Jane, and
Sally, their Mom and Dad,
their cat, Puff, and their dog, Spot,
Years watching Tarzan swinging through the jungles of Africa
colliding with people who could be my cousins,
Years watching my classmates root for the cowboys
as they kill off the Indians,
Years singing My Country ‘Tis of Thee,
Sweet Land of Liberty,
even as Four Little Girls were
killed while in Sunday School in a
Birmingham church.
Mrs. Castile did a remarkable job.
She nurtured wounded spirits with
love and care through recycled
Look and See readers and Think
and Do workbooks.
Mrs. Castile gave me a gift that
was never tarnished in all the
damp, dark, dusty, desolate,
sometimes damning places that I
have traveled since 1959.
Mrs. Castile determined that I would read.
When I read, I look.
When I look, I see.
When I see, I write.
When I write, I think.
When I think, I do.

How were your experiences of school the same as or different from Oroki’s?