A Class Apart

Adult education classes for the unconventional hobbyist

Learning is a lifelong process that can improve your health, increase your personal satisfaction and broaden your professional prospects. It’s also a great way to make new friends, as you’ll be surrounded by people who share some common interests with you. Studies have even shown that adult learning programs can improve your memory and brain function, as well as make you feel more confident. And although the tried and true territory of traditional adult education programs abound in our area, there are also lots of noteworthy, new options out there. 

Whether you are interested in exploring the world of beekeeping, ferreting out “fake news” or you dream of flying on a trapeze with the greatest of ease, the possibilities are vast. In fact, one of the leaders in adult education in our area, Master the Possibilities (MTP), a not-for-profit lifelong learning center located within Circle Square Commons in the On Top of the World community, has “possibilities” right in its name. 

“We offer about 1,400 to 1,600 classes a year,” explains Education Program Manager Heather Carrow. “Our curriculum is diverse to fulfill our educational purpose as a lifelong learning center. Master the Possibilities provides quality instruction and learning experiences for thousands of adult students throughout Marion County and beyond. All of our programs are open not only to our residents but the general public as well.”

Classes at MTP range from the usual offerings in the areas of art, cooking, crafts, foreign languages, travel and technology to topics including racism and how to protect yourself from con artists. And for those of you who dream of out-of-this-world adventures, World Space Week (October 4-10) is a great time to check MTP out. In addition to their own classes, MTP is also teaming up with the Institute for Human & Machine Cognition (IHMC) and will be hosting two pre-recorded lectures with mediators.

How the Universe Works—Beyond Earth

October 4, 4-5:30pm › masterthepossibilities.org

Jerry Heines, who holds a Ph.D. in theoretical physics, will explore space, its history, some of the intriguing finds, and our current and future space missions. 

Roving the Solar System: Looking for Signs of Life › IHMC Pre-Recorded Talk at MTP

October 5, 10-11:30am › masterthepossibilities.org

Former Associate Administrator for Space Science at NASA Wes Huntress will explore the topic of whether or not we are alone in the universe. He will also provide a view into some of the Mars exploration rovers and how they assisted in recent discoveries. 

Building the International Space Station › IHMC Pre-Recorded Talk at MTP

October 9, 1-2:30pm › masterthepossibilities.org

Captain William Shepherd presents his experiences as commander of the first expedition to the International Space Station (ISS). Shepherd will detail his years preparing in Russia and in Houston with his two Russian crewmates and show highlights of his crew’s four-month mission, as well as his take on the future of human spaceflight.  

The New and Improved Solar System › via GoToMeeting

October 10, 3-4:15pm › masterthepossibilities.org

Astronomer at the Cincinnati Observatory and co-host of PBS’ Star Gazers, Dean Regas will teach a live interactive web-conference class with a Q&A session following his presentation. He’ll explore the sun, planets, asteroids, moons and recent astronomical discoveries.


IHMC also continues their award-winning evening lecture series, which provides a community forum where individuals gather to hear engaging and enlightening conversations. Speakers present topics from a wide-ranging set of subject areas, including science and technology, civic leadership and urban planning. Space: Not Just for Astronauts Anymore will be presented by Senior Research Scientist Jonathan Clark on October 30. For more information on IHMC’s lecture series, visit ihmc.us.


Whether you are channeling your inner Robin Hood or Katniss Everdeen, Marion County Parks and Recreation has got you covered. USA Archery certified instructors lead introductory, intermediate and advanced courses during October, November and December at Brick City Adventure Park. Each skill level is offered as a four-week session for only $15, which includes all necessary equipment. 

“Our Archery 101 course takes beginners from never holding a bow to knowing the proper techniques and rules for shooting,” explains Stacie Causey, public information specialist for Marion County. “Some participants are able to competently shoot an arrow after one month. Archery 102 sessions apply the basics learned in the beginner’s course to games and the honing of specific skill sets. These skill-specific applications and games define the archer’s techniques even further.”

While we’re on the topic of movies, if The Greatest Showman inspired you with its feats of derring-do, then you’re a prime candidate for a flying trapeze class, taught by Gainesville Circus Center at the YMCA of North Central Florida in Gainesville. Group classes, offered Saturdays at 10am and Sundays at 1pm, are open to all ages and skill levels. Restrictions pertain to height (min 36”) and weight (250lbs max). First-time students learn the basics of swinging, knee hang and mid-air transfer to a professional catcher in this exhilarating family-friendly, 90-minute class. Participants wear a safety harness at all times and are under the supervision of multiple coaches. Private classes are also available. For more information, visit gainesvillecircus.com.


Service & Therapy Animals 

October 16-December 9, 5:30-8pm › 1930 SW 38th Ave., Ocala › saintleo.edu/ocala-education-center

Dr. Jenenne Valentino-Bottaro will teach this interdisciplinary course at Saint Leo University’s Ocala Education Center, developed with Dr. Debra Mims, a member of HOPE Animal-Assisted Crisis Response. Mims and her dogs assisted after the Parkland and Pulse Nightclub shootings. Topics that will be covered include service animals and the roles they play with both individuals and through law enforcement in the apprehension of criminals, calming children in family court situations and crime victims who are being interviewed by law enforcement, in search and rescue scenarios and as cadaver dogs. The course will also explore the social, physical, emotional and psychological impacts of human-animal interactions, as well as how the human-animal bond can impact society, animal welfare and the connection between violence toward people and violence toward animals.


Senior Learners, Inc. (SLI) is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing educational opportunities for those who are at least 50 years old by presenting non-credit, college-level classes covering a range of academic interests. Among the upcoming courses being offered are classes on the current opioid crisis, radio astronomy, managing depression among the elderly, as well as law school for seniors. For a full course catalog, visit seniorlearners.org.


From learning to make your own soap to exploring what your handwriting can reveal about you, here are some great ways to nurture your intellect, challenge yourself and have some fun.

Handcrafted Soap Making

Ongoing, call to schedule › 11am, Williston › (352) 339-2026 › twohawkhammock.com

​Get some friends together, or engage in a private lesson in organic soap making. Learn to create fizzy bombs, sugar scrubs, bath salts, goat milk and natural oil-infused soaps. Whatever your desire, they can customize your experience. Class time is approximately two hours. While there, you can also visit the artisan co-op, go for a carriage ride, visit the wood shop or book the guest house for an overnight stay. 

Scammunition: How To Protect Yourself From Con Artists

October 2, 9:30am-11am › masterthepossibilities.org

Bothered by annoying robocalls, even though you signed on to the Do Not Call Registry? Uneasy about the threat of “imposter scams?” Scam prevention specialist Colleen Pallamary will teach you how to protect your assets and acquire a new set of self-defense skills.

Voices in Black and White: What Can I Do About Racism?

October 5, 3-4:30pm › masterthepossibilities.org

This free event will raise awareness about racism in its various forms, offer a real-time, face-to-face opportunity to discuss the current issues we face as a community and offer some ideas for potential actions that can lead to healing it. Members of The Bridges Project, a local group of citizens working to improve race relations in Marion County, invite you to join them in a transformative conversation aimed at encouraging racial and cultural cooperation. 

How to Spot Fake News

October 12, 10:30am-12pm › masterthepossibilities.org

Managing Editor of the Ocala Star Banner Jim Ross tackles the subject of “fake news” and how to distinguish it from actual news. Ross will examine where we are, how we got here and where we should be heading.

Beekeeping—Past, Present, and Future

October 12, 1-3pm › masterthepossibilities.org

Learn about the latest trends in beekeeping and the problems facing our honey bees from Chappie McChesney, the founder of the Marion County Beekeepers Club.

Laughter Yoga

October 23, 2-3pm › masterthepossibilities.org

You’ve heard laughter is the best medicine, but are you aware of the physical, emotional and spiritual benefits of laughter. Laughter can boost immune function, pain tolerance, cardiovascular health and memory. Certified Laughter Leader Jill Carel will introduce you to the popular practice of Laughter Yoga and lead you through exercises.

Infusing Olive Oil

November 11 › 11am, Brookvsille › floridaconcerts.org

Learn to safely infuse olive oil with your favorite herbs at an organic olive tree orchard.

The Write Stuff: What Your Handwriting Reveals About You

November 12, 1-4pm › masterthepossibilities.org

Practiced for more than 100 years, graphology is the science of handwriting analysis. Participants will learn to assess movement, spacing and the form of a person’s handwriting, as a way of understanding the writer’s character, personality, thought processes and life experiences.

Nuisance Wildlife

December 19, 10-11:30am › masterthepossibilities.org

This free course addresses the issue of problems with nuisance wildlife and what you can do to resolve them. 

The Beers That Changed History 

January 16, 5-6pm › masterthepossibilities.org

Beer writer and historian Mark DeNote will walk students through tasting five craft beers that changed beer history. 

Mobile Sculpture Workshop (Ages 14+) 

January 19, 1-3pm › appletonmuseum.org

Held in concert with the La Diaspora: Keepers of Heritage exhibition, this workshop, led by artist Carmen Rojas-Ginés, will introduce students to basic model making using tools and malleable materials.  

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