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Staff Spotlight
More testimonials in these programs:
Student... Computer Medical Adult Basic Ed Community Learning Center
Staff... Computer Medical Adult Basic Ed Community  
Trudy Smith
likes to see students get excited about Quilting...

Wife, mother, and grandmother Trudy Smith has been quilting for 25 years. She had an interest in quilting starting in the early ’80s when she happened to be running her own craft store, and as serendipity would have it, renowned quilter Sally Collins walked into her shop one day looking to teach classes and start a quilting guild. For the next 10 years, Trudy would learn under Sally’s guidance....

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Deborah Gallant

It's much better to find you shouldn't go into business for yourself than spend your family's life savings...

Deborah Gallant is always busy. Busy doing business, that is.  Especially as of late.

Unlike many people in these hard economic times, she hasn’t taken too hard a fall. In fact, her clientele has never been a heartier lot. A professional business coach, Deborah attributes her upswing in good fortune to others’ change in attitude about their own businesses.

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Peter Kraus

Peter Kraus has been teaching at Adult Ed for approximately six years. His classes have included “Anyone Can Draw” and “Any Teacher Can Draw,” following a curriculum he developed himself.  He has taught his program at Pierce College since 2005. He has also written three books on drawing. Charter schools, home schooling teachers, and art therapists have reported using them.

Peter runs his own professional graphic design firm and has been teaching art at his private studio for nearly 15 years, finding free time occasionally for camping trips and recreational photography.

His college degrees are in art education and art, with a psychology minor.

He enjoys teaching at Adult School because he feels his students are truly interested in learning.

“My reward comes when my students—most of whom have always wanted to be able to draw, but thought they couldn't —discover that yes, they CAN,” Peter said.

Jenny Klossner
Yoga Stretch instructor Jenny Klossner brings to her students in the Older Adult Enrichment Program her many years of experience and level of expertise in the practice, first as a student-disciple herself and later as an instructor for the Adult School since 2009, as well as at various other locations around the Conejo Valley.
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Barbara Shannon demonstrates for students

Let's paint a portrait. This one is of Adult Ed art teacher Barbara Shannon, who says each student "should learn the basics, see all the possibilities, then you go off in your own direction. When you come to my classrooms, you see 20, 30 people doing different things from abstracts in acrylic to picky, picky flowers..."

Let us paint a portrait. This one is of Barbara Shannon, Adult Ed art instructor. She started as a Fine Art major at San Jose State, then attended grad school for a short while, stopping partway through to begin her teaching career at Camarillo High School and Adult Ed. It was 1964.

She taught three general art classes and two home ec classes with subject matter “I knew nothing about,” she said. Her college minor in Costumes and Textiles came in handy, though, with the units on clothing construction.

A switch to Thousand Oaks High School  brought a change of scenery, though the same teaching fare: art and home ec.

“I always taught mostly art,” she said. 

By her third year at T.O. High, Barbara was named department chairperson. She continued to teach until the day her first child was born.

“I was in 6th period doing a demo and kept feeling like I had a stomachache,” she said. “It wasn’t a stomachache. It was my son…I called from the labor room to get a sub.”

As a new mother, Barbara put fulltime teaching on hold, only continuing her career as an Adult Ed instructor. When her son reached high school, she returned to mainstream teaching as a substitute. She then helped establish a new independent study program with her colleague, Barbara Smith. It developed into the district’s present-day program.

Independent study became Barbara’s niche. She taught for 22 years, partially retiring two years ago to promote her book, Exploring Art Media.


“I felt there had to be a textbook to help non-art teachers teach art,” she said. “So I wrote it.”

She has been vending at teachers' conferences and making presentations about her publication. The second edition of the book, released in 2010, was a silver finalist in the Benjamin Franklin Awards in the Education/Teaching/ Academic category, given by the Independent Book Publishers Assn.

The independent study class she still teaches is simply a lab, entitled “Introduction to Visual Arts,” which helps students meet the California high school art requirement and entry-level requirement for the University of California. Many of Barbara’s pupils, however, are decades beyond high school or college-age; her oldest student is 93. There are many returners, too.

“My students seem to love me,” she said. “I have a following of [them] that have been [coming back] for years and years and years.”

This might explain why it is difficult to gain admission to her classes. It might also elucidate why many of Barbara’s protégés have done exceptionally well with their art, placing in competitions such as that of the Ventura County Fair.

Not surprisingly, Barbara has placed in the Fair herself. What’s more, she regularly competes in local juried art competitions, though she’s shy to say that she’s often been awarded best in show and people’s choice favorite.

“I get my share of first place ribbons,” she said. “For people’s choice…I’ve done nicely with that.”

Barbara has been with her husband, Ron Shannon, “forever,” enumerating 44 years of marriage. They met as teachers at Camarillo High, “the romance of first period prep,” Barbara said. They had two children, Jeannine and Brent, now both alumni of UC Davis. Jeannine majored in Art Studio, attended grad school for computer applications, and presently works as a graphic artist. She is also a new mother.Brent earned his B.S. in Physiology and attended Cal State Northridge for his Master’s degree. He works as a medical writer at Amgen, though he is currently stationed in Kuwait as an officer of the Navy Reserve.

Barbara considers being a new grandmother one of her hobbies. In addition, she likes to travel, taking a lot of pictures on her trips as reference material for paintings. She also loves to read. Of course she paints, too.

“There’s so little time between living and teaching that I barely have time to do as much painting as I want to do,” she said. “But there’s that term, ‘Enjoy the process.’ I try to enjoy everything I do and if I don’t enjoy it, I don’t do it.”

Her absolute passion is painting portraits and the human figure, though her students can follow their own desires when it comes to subject matter. However, Barbara is very structured about demonstrating the fundamentals first.

“My approach to teaching is a person should learn the basics, see all the possibilities, then you go off in your own direction,” she said. “When you come to my classrooms, you see 20, 30 people doing different things from abstracts in acrylic to picky, picky flowers.”

As for Barbara, she chooses to interpret faces and forms in order to honor the individuality of human beings.

“When I draw or paint, I am celebrating that person’s uniqueness or specialness,” she said. “Even if I’m doing a still life, I try to celebrate its beauty. I’m almost religious about how wonderful life is.”

Kyra Sovero
School teachers and other professionals attend her classes in order to acquire conversational skills as a necessity for their work, which is definitely a motivating factor. Others who travel or have relatives who speak Spanish find the classes extremely helpful in enhancing their ability to communicate.
¿Habla usted español? Whatever the case may be, Spanish instructor Kyra Sovero, whose Adult School teaching positions include both the Older Adult Enrichment and Community Service programs, utilizes the wealth of her educational background and cosmopolitan experience to create a relaxed and supportive setting in which her students become immersed in the language and culture of the countries in which the language is spoken. The Advanced Spanish class that she instructs for the senior community at the Goebel Center is geared for those whose fluency is at the intermediate level and above. In addition to the conversational training, comprehension, reading and writing, the subject matter is centered primarily around Spanish-speaking countries and locations therein. A variety of activities—current events, literature, grammar a nd stimulating discussions—is used to motivate the class.
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Kathleen Rogan

Kathleen Galloway Rogan, is also a freelance writer, actress & stand-up comedienne.

Kathleen Rogan has been teaching Creative Writing and Screenwriting at Conejo Adult School since 2007. An all-around arts and humanities creative, Kathleen has a background in the fine and applied arts, writing, film, television, and theatre—interests that were almost inherent, growing up immersed in her parents’ arts and show business professions. She did some modeling as a child but “wasn’t that interested,” she says, and “just wanted to be a kid.” She enjoyed painting and pursued that into her college years, attending CalArts and earning her Bachelor’s and Master’s in Fine Art.

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Jerry Ferguson

Jerry Ferguson, Conejo Adult School painting instructor, has a background in educational psychology, early childhood studies, environmental design and architecture, Asian philosophy, and prison education. Her colorful and varied career journey started with her higher education experience at UCLA.

“On the first day I thought I’d died and gone to Heaven,” Jerry says. “I thought that was an amazing place.”

There she earned a Bachelor’s in Science and then pursued a doctorate in Educational Psychology. After earning the latter, her interest in early childhood education and children’s learning environments inspired her to pursue a Master’s degree in Architecture. She attended Southern California Institute of Architecture (Sci-ARC)—then a brand-new school, having just broken off from Cal Poly.

“Everyone was really new and excited and trying new curricula,” Jerry says.

She describes the school’s forward-thinking approach to teaching design and architecture—a departure from what had once been a “physics and math first, design and creativity later” mentality.

“They essentially turned the curriculum upside down,” Jerry says. “You need to find out early if you have the ability to design and be creative.”

Jerry’s dynamic experience included having Frank Gehry and Sci-ARC co-founder Thom Mayne on her Master’s committee, and Mayne as one of her professors. Her courses included everything from serigraphy to CAD.

Further pursuing early childhood education and associated learning environments in addition to making use of her ability in speaking Japanese (she picked up the language while working on her doctorate in Asian Philosophy—a degree, ultimately, she decided not to complete), Jerry traveled to Japan to help the country establish a precedent for children’s learning outside the family home.

Prior to this, Jerry explains, the culture was still largely informed by the concept of women staying home and caring for children instead of joining the workforce, though change was imminent. The nation had given Buddhist monks the task of providing the framework for early childhood education in the country and providing the expanse of their temples and grounds for children’s learning centers, but there was the lack of facilities specifically designed for children’s needs. Jerry helped develop these, mindful in designing spaces that complemented the longstanding cultural traditions of the country.

“You have to incorporate their cultural values into design of environments,” Jerry says. “You can’t just translate an American early childhood to Japan or another culture. [Design is] culturally relative.”

Interviews & articles by E. Kane and B. Kane
For more information, call 805-497-2761 ext. 1201, or e-mail Anne Bartholomew at AnneB@ConejoAdultEd.org
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