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Sound Bites - Issue #48- August 2017

On the Cover
A Legacy Continues in Our Horsemanship Classes

Janet Maruhashi and Lisa Marlowe with BillyJanet Maruhashi and Lisa Marlowe with Billy

Saddlerock Ranch, home of  the James Wyllie Equestrian Education CenterSaddlerock Ranch, home of the James Wyllie Equestrian Education Center


Students on a trail ride in the nearby Rocky Oaks State Park Students on a trail ride in the nearby Rocky Oaks State Parks


The legacy of legendary horseman James Wyllie lives on -- and SMC Community Ed's Fundamentals of Horsemanship students are among the beneficiaries.

Wyllie died March 16 in Agoura Hills at the age of 98, but he left an indelible imprint on California's equestrian community as well as thousands of students he taught over a long and storied career. (Highlights of his fascinating life include working with Ronald Reagan's Secret Service, qualifying horses for the Olympic Games, and teaching such celebrities as Nancy Sinatra among the 65,000 students he had.)

And his unique horsemanship and teaching philosophy continue under three of his closest devotees and friends at the James Wyllie Equestrian Education Center in the lovely Saddlerock Ranch in the hills above Malibu.

Longtime program director/coordinator Lynn Carr continues in her role as "stable godmother" to both horses and students, having ridden and worked side-by-side with Wyllie since the 1980s. Main instructor Janet Maruhashi rode with and worked as Wyllie's assistant for three decades, having started as his student in 1983 in an SMC Community Ed class offered through Pepperdine University. And teaching assistant Lisa Marlowe rode and trained with Jim for almost 20 years, and says "he became a big, major force in my life."

Between the three of them, they are at the center every day, offering classes three days a week, taking care of the three horses in their stalls, and handling various upkeep and administrative duties. Volunteers Sylvia Hohri and Ed Andrews, longtime students of Wyllie, help take care of the horses.

Students who take the Fundamentals of Horsemanship class learn the basics of horseback riding in a fun environment that combines classroom instruction, groundwork, and riding instruction in the ring and on the trail. Not only are the ring and Saddlerock Ranch trails beautiful, but one of the trails also leads to nearby Rocky Oaks State Park with its pond, picnic area and abundant wildlife such as deer.

But beyond technique and safety, students find out how to communicate intelligently with the horse while in the saddle. Indeed, Wyllie was not only a horse whisperer, but a horse philosopher and life coach, say his devotees, who are carrying on his unique approach to teaching horsemanship.

"Jim was such a creative educator and fascinating man," Marlowe said. "He encouraged us all to remain curious and questioning; working with horses brings new 'life lessons' every day."

Marlowe and Maruhashi love teaching and have enjoyed all their students, including those from SMC Community Ed.

"All the students are so different - they come from different occupations, ages and backgrounds," Maruhashi said. "But they've all been lovely."

The center has three horses - Billy, who the center owns, and Checkers and Sparky, who are leased. (Earlier this year, two of their horses died, the same year Wyllie died - Scout at the age of 30 and Eric, who lived to be the remarkable age of 42.)

"I think there can be a very strong spiritual bond with horses," Marlowe said. "They bring us closer to nature, and we're always trying to get that sixth sense. And horses teach us to live in the moment."

Three 6-week sessions of Fundamentals of Horsemanship will be offered on Tuesdays, Saturdays and Sundays beginning Sept. 30.

What's New
How Pieces Come Together!

Alice Meyering

Another new class is 3D Printing Teacher CertificationA new class is 3D Printing Teacher Certification

from the desk of Alice Meyering

Sometimes, the best ideas are right in your own back yard.

Take, for instance, the special relationship that SMC Community Ed has developed with the classified - or non-teaching - staff at SMC. Earlier this year, SMC's Classified Professional Development Committee asked us to provide Google Docs training to some of the classified employees.

We happily complied, finding a terrific instructor in Seth David, who combines business acumen and teaching skill with a passion for new technologies. The class was a big success, and once we realized how valuable it was for classified staff we were able to make some minor adjustments and are offering How to Use Google Docs to the community starting this fall.

The experience also demonstrated to us that Community Ed acts as a testing lab for instruction and that we complement SMC's academic program.

But that's not the end of the story. We learned from Seth about cutting-edge technologies that fall into what is called the Age of Edge Computing and Blockchain. Honestly, we had never heard that terminology before. Furthermore, Seth told us about Slack, an app that provides a private communications channel that is far more efficient than email.

So what did we do? We signed Seth on to teach not only Google Docs this fall, but also Slack Communication Workshop, again for the first time.

The Google Docs and Slack courses are reflective of the increasing emphasis we are placing on offering career and professional development training. Of course, we are still scheduling many personal enrichment classes but have streamlined our offerings to be more efficient and to respond to our community's demand.

For example, we are excited to offer for the first time this fall How to Live, Work & Retire Abroad Affordably, Introduction to Music Theory, Composition & Creativity (Photography) and Beginning Crochet.

(And in the area of professional development, we are offering for the first time, in addition to Google Docs and Slack, 3D Printing Teacher Certification courses.)

So we invite you to peruse our fall class schedule, which you can view in a PDF format or by going to our website and discover classes you never even thought of, as well as those you've considered taking. Who knows? One of our classes could just change your life!

Behind the Scenes:
Writing - One Word at a Time

Memoir Writing instructor Monona Wali (left), How to Write Funny instructor Jonathan Leigh Solomon (right)Memoir Writing instructor Monona Wali (left), How to Write Funny instructor Jonathan Leigh Solomon (right)

Everyone wants to be a writer, right? Talent helps, of course, but there are many qualities that lend themselves to being a good writer.

Sound Bites posed two questions to two of Community Ed's talented writer-instructors who know quite a bit about good writing.

What does it take to be a good writer?

Reading a ton of good literature!
An observant mind.
An eye for details.
A strong voice.
A lot of discipline.
A story that lives deeply inside you.
Reading more good literature!
Good readers for your work who get what you are trying to do and can offer honest, objective feedback

Please tell us an anecdote about one of your students that either surprised you or made you happy as an instructor.

I had a student who was a Vietnam War Vet who had never really written much before. He took a class I was teaching at the VA that was facilitated through their PTSD program. There was one story he said he could not write. It was about the loss of one of his close friends in the war and thinking or writing about it induced all the symptoms of his PTSD. A year later he enrolled in one of my classes at Continuing Ed. He fell in love with writing and kept at it, determined to write the story of his whole life (son of a sharecropper in the deep south/War Vet/salesman/Radio DJ/father). One day he came to class having written the story about his friend. It was powerful and moving. It was such a joy to see him grow as a writer and to witness the healing power of writing.

-Monona Wali, Memoir Writing Workshop

What does it take to be a good writer?

Faith in the process of learning. I say this because anyone can learn to write funny. Think of Jerry Seinfeld or Nora Ephron or David Sedaris as master chefs who know how to whip up a patede canard en croute, which has something to do with a de-boned duck and a pastry shell - I can't pronounce it, much less cook it - but that doesn't mean even a person who's done absolutely no writing previously can't whip up a very tasty grilled cheese sandwich. And if they "stay in the kitchen" long enough, they will cook up much, much more. 

Please tell us an anecdote about one of your students that either surprised you or made you happy as an instructor. 

It's difficult to choose just one because so many students surprise me, but it's the ones who surprised themselves, that really encourage me to stay passionate about teaching. I had a student this summer who said on the first day, "I know I'm funny, but my friends don't think so." That didn't seem like a promising start; if you're indeed funny, wouldn't at least your friends and family agree? But it turned out the student just didn't know the constructions and techniques required to communicate with clarity. Once she understood some basics like what a "premise" is, she had the entire class, for real, literally, LOL! 

-Jonathan Leigh Solomon, How To Write Funny

SMC Extension Roaring Ahead

Michelle KingMichelle King, Director Career & Contract Ed.

Fall 2017 SMC Extension CatalogFall 2017 SMC Extension Catalog

Slate of new classes

I'm excited that our Fall SMC Extension catalogue will start arriving in 99,000 Westside mailboxes in the next week - primarily because it showcases the breadth and depth of professional development course and certificate programs we will be offering.

As always, we have selected our courses based on the economic needs of Southern California, the forecasts for high growth professions in our region, and our community's demands.

As in the past, we always offer some new courses or programs. This fall, the new programs are How to Use Google Docs, Slack Communication Workshop, Certificate in Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR): Mediation, Arbitration, and Negotiation, 3D Printing Teacher Certification, and Phlebotomy Certification, which we had previously offered but now with a new education provider.

We are pleased with all these new - and previously offered - classes. But to give just one example, the Certificate in Alternate Dispute Resolution will give students a valuable skill, no matter what their particular job is. Indeed, we believe this is not just a professional skill but also a life skill that can be used in your family or in other settings. All you have to do is look at the world and see the conflict that pervades our globe.

If you don't receive a printed copy of our Fall SMC Extension catalogue you can view a PDF of it online,. Or, we are happy to mail you a copy by calling our office at (310) 434-3400.

We look forward to seeing you in one or more of our classes and/or certificate programs in the fall!

Warm regards,

Michelle King
Director of Career &
Contract Education