JSC launches new summer program


Agathe Fredette

Jo Ann Lamore

This summer, Johnson State College will be offering a series of workshops called “Summer Shorts” for the first time.

The workshops, most of which take place on the JSC campus, will be taught by JSC faculty and staff and are available for anyone at least 18 years old. Anyone below the age requirement who is interested must obtain the instructor’s permission to participate.

The “Summer Shorts” begin May 31 and run through Aug. 6, with each program ranging from one to six days long. The longer the workshop, the higher the price — they cost between $60 and $290 dollars.

The fees cover all materials and expenses, but not meals. The JSC dining hall will be open during the workshops, and overnight housing will potentially be available during some of the longer programs.

Many options are available, covering a wide variety of subjects. For May and June, JSC is offering Landscape Photography, Jewelry: Wearable Circles, Massive Paper Mache Mask-Making, Calculus without Calculations, Exploring Wellness and Alternative Medicine, Identifying Common Wildflowers in Vermont and New Hampshire, Introduction to Papermaking, Vermont History Tour through the Shelburne Museum, and Creative Dance.

The July “Summer Shorts” are Solar Etching: Printmaking in the Sun, The Challenge of Choosing Food in a GMO Grocery Store, Ceramics and Raku, Creating with Media, Vaccine Research, Telling Stories in Sound: An Introduction to Podcasting and Radio Documentary, and Mindfulness for Self-Care.

The lone offering for the month of August is called Horses, Humans, and Healing.

According to Fine Arts Professor Leila Bandar, who is instructing the jewelry course, “The ‘Summer Shorts’ were suggested by President Collins as a way to enliven the campus during the summer, support our local community with opportunities to connect to each other and our college, and, lastly, as a way to entice individuals outside our region to see and experience campus, instructors, and local professionals.”

Bandar, when describing the workshops, likened them to the appetizers of a meal. “In my view, ‘Summer Shorts’ are a taste of topics in faculty and staff’s special interest areas,” she said. “They are samples. They are not a full meal but provide the flavor of a subject or special interest area.”

Bandar feels there are multiple reasons why someone might participate in a “Summer Short.” “People should take them to connect with like-minded individuals,” she said. “They should also take them to be introduced to an expert in a specific field who can direct the participant to future explorations in the field, and ground the participant in basic principles and/or techniques.”

When discussing what a prospective participant should anticipate if they sign up, she said, “People should expect to be included, welcomed, inspired, and informed. ‘Summer Shorts’ are inclusive because they are introductory and not graded.”

Assistant Professor of Mathematics Greg Petrics sees the program as way to keep the JSC campus productive during the summer months. “For the last few summers, it has been tough to find enrollment for credit-bearing courses on campus,” he said. “This is an attempt to reach some community members, and maybe current JSC students, who want to do something academic, but not the traditional credit-bearing course. I am hoping it gives people an opportunity to get some academic stuff under their belt and remind themselves of what is fun about classes and learning.”

Petrics is instructing the Calculus without Calculations course, and has a rather specific demographic in mind that might be interested. “I am envisioning my ‘Summer Short’ being more tuned towards continuing education students rather than traditional undergraduates,” he said. “Mine is specifically directed at people who are scared of math and feel very uncomfortable in an abstract mathematics course, but know that they want to know what calculus is all about.”

Amy May, a part-time faculty member of the Fine Arts Department and the instructor of the Ceramics and Raku Workshop, thinks that the new program has the possibility to become a consistent offering from JSC. “We hope it will be successful and lots of people will come and learn from this,” she said. “But it has the potential to be so much more. I think once the word gets out, this could be a great community resource. The key is actually getting the word out.”

Jo Ann Lamore, assistant academic dean, was a part of the team of administrators behind the “Summer Shorts.” “A group of staff from various offices met last December to brainstorm ideas,” she said. “From the meeting arose the idea of offering some non-credit bearing options that would be educational and fun, and perhaps appeal to a different population. Beginning in February of this year, a smaller group of staff — myself, Sharon Twigg, Deb Bouton, Dannielle Spring, and Susan Nichols — took responsibility for putting out a request for workshop proposals, reviewing and approving proposals, assigning campus rooms for the workshops, marketing the Summer Shorts Program through various avenues, and building the workshops into our EMS registration system.”

Lamore also echoed many of the sentiments of the professors teaching the courses regarding what people can expect from a “Summer Short.” “Participants will not be required to submit work that will be graded,” she said. “Participants can just learn, be creative, and have fun. The workshops are also much shorter than a traditional, academic course. We felt that a participant might be able to more easily commit to an afternoon or to a one- to three-day workshop, as opposed to several weeks to participate in a course. We hope that the cost and format of the workshops will be appealing.”

For those interested in participating, the registration deadline is 10 business days prior to the start of each workshop. For more info, visit jsc.edu/academics/programs-by-type/summer-programs/summer-shorts.