Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A Loaf of Bread, a Jug of Wine and Thou ... and a Teacher

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A Loaf of Bread, a Jug of Wine and Thou ... and a Teacher

Article excerpt


In this University of North Florida course, there are no books, no tests, no assignments, no grades. The only requirement is to bring a wine glass to class.

On Monday, none of Martin Connor's students seemed to care when he kept talking well beyond the time when the class was scheduled to end.

"It's supposed to end at 3," said student Ralph Sawyer as Connor opened a cold bottle of Chardonnay. "But no one wants to leave."

Wine 101 is one of the courses offered this winter through the university's Lifelong Learning Institute, part of the Division of Continuing Education.

The institute opened in the fall to offer a wide variety of classes and special events for people over age 50.

The institute is part of a nationwide trend of fun, intellectually stimulating courses on a wide array of topics for people whose college days are well behind them. The trend has proven popular throughout Jacksonville, including the Beaches.

Erin Moore, continuing education program coordinator, estimates about 30 percent of the institute's members are from Ponte Vedra Beach, Jacksonville Beach, Neptune Beach, Atlantic Beach, Mayport and the west Beaches.

After about 150 people joined for the fall semester, membership doubled for the winter session and continues to climb. For $85 a year, members can take one class each semester in the fall, winter and summer and can sign up for additional classes for $30 each.

This term's courses, which began Jan. 15 and run through April 5, include Art History, Giants of Western Civilization, Building Your Own Web site, Criminology, Great Books, Play Reading, Writing Children's Mysteries, Music Appreciation, Current Events, History of the Modern Middle East, Chinese Mah Jongg, World Religions, Characters and Stories from The Canterbury Tales, How to Get Your First Book Published and Cooking.

"We took Great Books last time and enjoyed that, so we decided to do something less cerebral this time," said Jan Stillwell, who is taking Wine 101 with husband, Mark.

"Our four children are amused we are taking a drinking class," she said.

Jo Jones of Ponte Vedra Beach and new friend Marie Smith of the Southside signed up for the wine class together after meeting in a class last fall called Our Greek Legacy.

"That's the great thing about this," Jones said, "making new friends."

Jones said she decided to take Wine 101 to learn more about French wine after a recent visit to France sparked an interest.

During the first class Monday, she and her classmates also learned about wines from other countries, and about grapes.

"Everything starts with grapes," Connor said, writing on the board. "That's where it all begins."

The course is intended for aspiring wine connoisseurs, "absolute beginners" who are interested in learning about wine tasting and the great variety of wines available today from around the world, according to the institute's brochure. …

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