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Sound Bites - Issue #22 - June 2015


  Community Education's Premiere Online Magazine

This Month's Topics:


Michelle King, Director Community and Contract Ed Michelle King, Director
Career & Contract Ed.

Imagining an Even Brighter Future

I wish I could clone my staff. Why? Because Alice Meyering and Jocelyn Winn perform miracles in running a college-within-a-college with more than 6,000 registrations a year and a robust offering of classes that I believe makes our community a better place. Just think what we could accomplish if I could have two Alices and two Jocelyns!

I’m reminded of this as we complete our annual Program Review, a document that takes a look back at our accomplishments of the past fiscal year and what we hope to achieve in the next year. Preparing the report is a useful process because it encourages honest self-assessment and leads to healthy contemplation. It reminds us of why our program exists and how it enriches us, opens doors to new career opportunities, and even changes lives.

As outlined in our Program Review report, Community Education supports SMC’s mission to nurture a lifetime commitment to learning – a commitment that is deeply embedded in the entire Santa Monica and Westside community. We are constantly examining our class offerings to respond to the region’s economic and employment needs and the desires of our community (for example, our Organic Gardening and Drought Tolerant Landscaping classes are perfect responses to a groundswell of interest in healthy living and to California’s serious drought).

Open HouseOpen House

We’ve made major efforts to reach out to and engage with our community – through a monthly newsletter, social media platforms, and even a semi-annual Student Art Exhibit. This year, we held our first Open House, with attendance that exceeded our expectations, and a Student Photo Contest that drew nearly 1,000 public online votes for the three finalists’ images.

The result of these moves is more enrollments, more engagement, more interest in our program. But to some extent we’ve become a victim of our own success. More community interest means more phone calls and emails to respond to, more curriculum calibration (which is an art and a science), more energy devoted to the extra work involved in such endeavors as a Photo Contest.

When you think about it, Community Education – a self-sustaining program – is larger than many colleges and universities in America. Yet, it is essentially run by two people. Imagine what we could do with one or two more like Alice and Jocelyn!

Warm regards,

Michelle King
Director of Career & Contract Education



Alice Meyering, Program Coordinator, Community and Contract Ed Alice Meyering,
Program Coordinator
Community & Contract Education

What's New: Photo Contest Winner…Dean Reyes!

It’s a pleasure to lead a vigorous round of applause for student Dean Reyes, who won our first-ever Student Photo Contest with his beautiful image of the iconic Griffith Observatory, Observatory at Night.

But I take equal pleasure in congratulating all three of the finalists and, indeed, all of the 14 contestants – all former or current students – who submitted 63 images, exceeding our expectations of participation. I was blown away by the quality of the photos and by our students’ talent.

The winning image will grace the cover of the Fall 2015 Schedule of Classes, and we will do a more in-depth feature on Reyes in July’s issue of Sound Bites.

Dean’s photo places the observatory against a backdrop of a ghostly Downtown Los Angeles. Shot on a Nikon D700 with a 28-300mm lens, it was taken as part of an assignment for the "Beyond Basics" photography class taught by Larry Jones.

Dean Reye's Observatory at Night Dean Reye's Observatory at Night

Dean told us that he started taking photos on his many trips, teaching himself through trial and error. Then, a former coworker suggested he take Jones’ “Basic Photography” class because she had learned so much in it herself.

“Since then I’ve taken ‘Beyond Basics Photography,’ also taught by Larry Jones, and went to private photography workshops that Larry has been offering over the years, in Malibu Creek and Joshua Tree,” Dean said. “And in reading my fellow finalist Andy House’s picture description, I’m encouraged to take ‘On the Street with Your Camera’ class with Ed Mangus in the future.”

Aside from House, whose photo, “Sunrise Smoke,” was taken in India, the other finalist is Susan Jackson, whose image, “Shoes,” was captured in Hollywood during the Scott Kelby World Wide Photo Shoot.

Dean Reyes on a volunteer medical mission Dean Reyes on a volunteer medical mission in The Philippines

A panel of SMC judges selected the top three images, and then the public picked the winning photo through an online voting system that ended June 8.

“All the other finalists had great photos, so winning this contest is truly an honor,” Dean said.

Dean, of Del Rey, who is in his 30s, is a structural engineer and he volunteers as a camp counselor for Camp Ronald McDonald for Good Times and on medical missions in remote areas of The Philippines.

It’s moments like this – and students like Reyes – that help make my work so rewarding and make me so proud of our program. Again, bravo Dean!



Stand-Up Comedy Graduates Perform at Comedy Store

Jonathan Leigh SolomonInstructor Jonathan Leigh Solomon

“Stand-up comedy is an art form and it dies unless you expand it.” – Sam Kinison

“While awaiting sentencing, I decided to give stand-up comedy a shot. The judge had suggested I get my act together, and I took him seriously.” – Tim Allen

Stand-up comedy has an important place in the American zeitgeist. It has given people much needed laughter in a world of turmoil, it has launched careers of big film and TV stars, and it has burst the pompous bubbles of politicians and others in power.

And L.A. is arguably the most fertile breeding ground for stand-up talent. That’s why SMC Community Ed’s "Stand Up Comedy Workshop with Comedy Store Graduation Show" is such a special offering.

Taught by "Late Show with David Letterman" regular Jonathan Leigh Solomon, the class not only cultivates talent, it gives students an unparalleled opportunity to perform at what might be considered the Mecca of stand-up comics. In fact, the students’ graduation performance attracts professional comedians who are curious to see the roster of new comedy talent.

Comedy Store graduate-performers Comedy Store graduate-performers
in January 2015

In May, the most recent crop of graduates played to a sold-out house, with the show featuring 14 comedians, ranging in age from 17 to 88, Solomon said. Included were the graduates and alumni from previous workshops, some of whom are now Comedy Store and Flappers Comedy Club regulars.

Solomon said one "Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon" regular in the audience remarked, “Either Jonathan is a really good teacher, or some of the acts are ringers!”  

The next "Comedy Workshop" begins Wednesday evening, June 24, at SMC’s Bundy campus. Class is open to all levels. Register online or call (310) 434-3400 or email