New season of Community Education offers a variety of fun and enlightening classes

February 21, 2014 at 3:25 pm  | Mobile Reader | Pring this storyPrint 

Community Ed. instructor Midori Tajiri-Byrd (left) applies makeup to a model. Tajiri-Byrd  teaches numerous courses on professional makeup techniques, including those for people who would like to work in TV and film productions.
Community Ed. instructor Midori Tajiri-Byrd (left) applies makeup to a model. Tajiri-Byrd teaches numerous courses on professional makeup techniques, including those for people who would like to work in TV and film productions.
As spring approaches a new session of community education classes be will be offered to the public through St. Charles Parish Public Schools including courses in show biz cosmetics, pastry baking, wreath-making, exercising and taking advantage of tax breaks as well as many others.

The community education courses span a variety of different subjects and offer something for everybody. The spring offerings also include arts, crafts, foreign languages, computer training and countless other subjects.

Susan Dempster, program coordinator, said the objective of community education is to provide an outlet for those in the community who want to not only learn about a particular subject, but also want to get to know others.

“It is such a fantastic resource for the residents of the parish and the surrounding parishes and is a wealth of information for students. It is also easily accessible,” she said. “It’s important to support your local programs.”

Dempster said the programs also allow additional use of school facilities in off hours.

“It is another perk for the school system to get more use out of school buildings instead of just the 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. that the kids are there,” she said.

The spring 2014 semester features plenty of course offerings for potential students. Of those, some of the most interesting are professional makeup classes being taught by Chicago native Midori Tajiri-Byrd.

Tajiri-Byrd, a makeup artist who works at Make Me Up on Magazine St. in New Orleans, has worked for several local film and TV productions.

“The classes I will be teaching will include a four-part series on professional makeup artist techniques covering everything from perfecting the skin and bone structure to customizing looks for a variety of faces, creating special-event looks and building your business as a makeup artist,” she said. “Following that I will teach a course specifically geared to makeup for photography, film and video and a course the delves into corrective makeup techniques for contouring, camouflaging and correcting facial features.”

For those who are interested in getting a job in film and TV make-up, Tajiri-Byrd said her class will provide hands-on, practical skills that the industry looks for in a make-up artist.

“The film industry in New Orleans continues to grow and related jobs are in increasing demand,” she said. “In addition to the staples of work for a makeup artist in New Orleans, which include special events, bridal, debutante balls, Mardi Gras and other holidays, there is work for television, film, photography and fashion as well as individual clients.”

For those who are interested more in a more traditional hobby, for the past three years Janet Soler has been teaching arts and crafts. Her most popular class teaches students how to make deco-mesh wreathes.

“Most people want to make wreaths themselves,” she said. “It’s a hoot, we have a good old time. You get a bunch of middle-age women together and we laugh and we cackle.”

Soler said through her wreath making classes she has been able to save participants money and give them a sense of pride in their work as well as build a community.

“What they would pay would be $50 to $80 for a wreathe and they are making it for like $30. Plus you have the pride of making it yourself,” she said.

Aspiring chefs will have plenty of outlets to hone their skill as well. Those looking for something sweet and filling may want to look into taking pastry and artisan bread baking classes taught by Celeste Uzee.

Uzee, a development officer at Tulane School of Continuing Studies, is a self taught home baker who shares her years of experience with her students.

“Everyone enjoys the eating part of baking. I like the science of it – how do different ingredients work together to create a particular texture or flavor? How can I manipulate the baking process to change the results? Combining flour, water, yeast, and salt to end up with a finished, delicious loaf is as close to magic as I can get,” she said. In the way Uzee describes it, baking is not just a way to provide sustenance for oneself and one’s family, but more of an art.

“Baking is a fun and low-tech hobby. So much of modern life is virtual, but working with dough is a tactile, sensory craft.  Also, when you bake at home, you have total control over the ingredients’ quality,” she said.

After eating all of that bread some students may find they need to take off some weight. Good thing that personal trainer Yolanda Cardona is offering three group fitness courses this year for students of all levels from novice to advanced.

Cardona began teaching fitness courses a year and half ago and just six months ago officially became a personal trainer, but it is her personal transformation through fitness that has been a driving factor behind her work.

“I was overweight a few years ago. So I know what it is like to be overweight so that is what inspired me to help others,” she said.

Cardona said the advantage of working in a group led by a personal trainer is having someone to push you further than you may go when exercising on your own.

“It is definitely for people who are looking to get into fitness but aren’t quite sure what their level is,” she said. “We provide lots of motivation for different types of people from all different backgrounds and different levels of fitness. We have everywhere from beginners to advanced to intermediate.”

On a different note, community education also offers a variety of classes on finance. New this year is a tax course for small business owners. The class, taught by Rob Tanner Jr., a financial planner at Integrity Business and Corporate Services, aims to teach small business owners how to better save for retirement by placing income directly into savings before taxes are taken out.

Tanner calls the plan an excellent tool for those looking forward to retirement.

“If you own a small business you want to come to the class because what you are going to learn is going to help you to ultimately save on taxes, but more importantly to build a retirement plan that you can contribute more than you can anywhere else,” he said.

A full list of courses can be found in the Community Education pamphlet that recently went out in the mail to all parish residents.  

The registration deadline is Friday, Feb. 28 and first classes start on Monday, March 10. For more information, visit Under “Quick Links” choose “Community”, then the “Community Education” link for the most current information or call the community education office at (985) 758-2497. 

View other articles written Kyle Barnett

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