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Older adults “Zoom In” together at SBCC School of Extended Learning

Art instructor Carissa Luminess and her students connecting via Zoom
On March 14, just two weeks into the spring semester, Carissa Luminess was one of 90 SBCC School of Extended Learning instructors asked to make a groundbreaking change. Determined to do their part to keep the community strong, the leadership team, faculty and staff moved rapidly to protect our community’s vulnerable adults from the threat of the coronavirus and the danger of isolation. In just 14 days, classes that normally met at the Wake and Schott campuses and served 2,000 adult students were converted to live video for the very first time.

Carissa transitioned her five tuition-free creative art classes, while staying focused, enthusiastic, and offering a positive learning environment for all.

“Teaching is what I love most,” said Carissa, “but I never imagined that would include teaching students how to login, mute, unmute, share their screens, use chat functions and video conferencing ‘etiquette’!”

While older adults are, in general, becoming more proficient in online environments in order to stay connected to family members and the latest news, Carissa realized she needed to stay fluid with her students’ shifting needs – at every level.

“When I’m with my students on Zoom, there is so much sharing, caring, laughter and appreciation, it really feels like we are all together in the same room!”

Collage & Mixed Media for Older Adults student Christiane Richards captured the experience perfectly: “I have taken Adult Ed art classes and others for over 25 years. I was apprehensive about navigating the Zoom system, but to my surprise, it was extremely easy. It is a lot of fun and I don't need to carry all my collage equipment to class. Thank you for offering these wonderful art classes to us during these confinement times. It really helps to have something creative to do and to have virtual social contact.”

Tuition-Free classes are offered throughout the summer, including the six-week “Summer 2” session starting June 29. In addition to classes for older adults, other noncredit programs include Adult High School, GED, Career Skills Institute, English as a Second Language, Health and Safety, and Parenting classes. Fall registration opens July 6. To register or for more information go to:
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