WEB EXCLUSIVE: Additional Continuing Education classes
By Sara Hoover
Enjoy these profiles of additional classes not featured in the print version of, “Tapping
Your Potential,” the article on the Continuing Education program in the Summer 2009
edition of the University of Memphis Magazine.
Secret Agent Man
The “So You Want to Be a Private Investigator” class teaches investigation and reporting
techniques, sources of information, background investigations and ethics.
Instructor Andy Wilson, a licensed private investigator and adjunct professor in the
criminology and criminal justice department, says the class is not just for those
wanting to be Magnum, P.I.
“A wide variety of people come not necessarily to become a private investigator but
to pick up skills that someone in the investigative profession has,” he says.
Realtors, librarians, teachers and lawyers have gained methods like how to do due
diligence, interview someone and pick up kinesics behavior, and how to research companies,
businesses and people.
Participant Charles Blankenship is transitioning careers from etymology to study bugs
of a different sort.
“I actually opened a private investigation company this year. I run a business for
a large company, and I am tired of making other people wealthy.”
Another student, Beverly Crockett (BA ’78), was looking for something to do after
“I would like to do a little bit of telecommuting. My background is in IT. I worked
for a private investigator one time on an embezzlement case years ago. The bookkeeper
changed all the passwords, so I broke the passwords.”
Wilson, who also teaches the “Protect Yourself from Identity Theft” class, has had
several students become licensed PIs.
Doing the Can-Can
With strawberries, zucchini and tomatoes in bloom, Memphians can easily create their
own culinary delights.
Agricultural extension agent Donna Downen has been educating others on just how to
do that since 1976.
Her class, the “Basics of Food Preservation,” taught USDA-recommended practices for
canning, freezing and drying. The Preservation 101 class covered pickling, jellies
and the difference between canning low- and high-acid foods.
Students learned about the equipment needed: a pressure canner, water-bath canner
and a pressure cooker; in addition to pickling salt, vinegar, sugars for syrups and
the best food to start with. Recipes and a canning book were included.
Downen’s goal was to impart “USDA research-based practices as opposed to want Grandmama
did so they can have a safe, quality product.”
Participants can now make their own preserves, jams, pickled and home-canned items.
Donita Cunningham, a Continuing Education regular, put in a garden this year for the
first time and took the class because she “wanted to extend the benefits of it.”
“I cook a lot. This is just the next step. It’s just something I’ve always wanted
to learn how to do,” says Cunningham.
Squiggles & Swirls
Maggie Naylor and Helen Putnam have been team-teaching “Fun Using Calligraphy” since
the early 1990s. Their six-week class provides tips, techniques and strokes with broad-edged
Held at the Church of Holy Communion, the hands-on course welcomes all levels of experience,
including high school students.
“Most people say, ‘My handwriting isn’t good enough.’ It has nothing to do with handwriting,”
says Naylor, a retiree from FedEx.
Harriett Sutton, participant and elementary school art teacher, is a repeat customer.
“Last fall, I took their class. I’m taking it again because I enjoyed it so much.
They teach different things. It varies.”
Sutton, who had calligraphy in college, is excited for the fall offering.
“The next one is something I’ve never done before with pointed pens that I really
look forward to. I was going to be disappointed if it was a repeat.”
Besides the actual skills acquired, the location is also very appealing.
“This is a very convenient site. Last time, I took it over at campus, I was unfamiliar
where to park, where to go, what to do.”
Most people want to learn to address an envelope or create a card, but the class includes
other holiday-themed projects, like Father’s Day.
“It’s been a whole lot of ideas and springboards to other things,” says Sutton. “It’s
more than just calligraphy. It’s very creative and artsy with things you can do for
your own enjoyment.”
If you think the grill is only for throwing meat on the fire, “Vegetarian Grill” proves
you wrong. Taught by Justin Fox Burks (BFA ’02), the class covers vegetable quesadillas,
grilled corn, barbeque tofu, grilled pizza and even made dessert – fruit kabobs of
bananas, pineapple and mangos with cinnamon and honey.
Freelance photojournalist Burks, along with his wife Amy Lawrence, use the demonstration
class to show participants how to have fun in the kitchen.
“That’s what it’s all about,” says Burks, who also teaches “Vegetarian Cooking.” “Play
with your food. Being creative. Cooking shouldn’t be a chore. We all have to eat three
times a day so you might as well have fun with it.”
The course, held at the gazebo at Memphis Botanic Garden, is not for vegetarians only.
“They’re all getting the message that eating less meat is a good thing, learning how
to cook healthier is a good thing,” Burks says of participants. “Or they know somebody
vegetarian that they have to cook for and have no idea how to approach it.”
A vegetarian for 20 years, Burks learned to cook because he couldn’t go out and just
order anything. He hopes people will rethink their grill’s use.
“I know a lot of people think the grill is for meat (only). It’s this shared human
experience over fire. I’d hate for anyone to lose out on that.”
The National Association of Professional Organizers - Memphis Chapter had so much
resistance with clients that they asked Kathy Harrison, a licensed mental health service
provider, to help.
“They ran up against so many obstacles with people,” says Harrison of the professional
organizers. “When their clients would come to a roadblock, they just couldn’t do their
The purpose of the “Psychology of Clutter” class is to look at what causes clutter
and to understand the psychology behind it as the first step to ending disorganization
“If it feels really overwhelming to try to figure out ‘What do I need to keep? What
do I need to let go?’” Harrison says that’s when she can help. “When you find you
cannot clear clutter and don’t know why, that’s probably where you might find some
answers to the road blocks.”
The word ‘clutter’ is derived from ‘clotter,’ meaning to clot, stagnate and hold back.
Participants learn the four different types of clutter: technical, life changes, behavioral/psychological
and time/life management.
“They’ll come away with the ability to look and process within their own lives what
may be preventing them from leading a more productive, organized life. They’ll gain
insight about themselves and why there might be clutter in their lives and willing
to let that go.”