PUBLISHED: 1:46 PM on Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Learn it all from Community Schools

Courtesy photo
  Students learn to belly dance during a class from Community Schools.
Belly dancing, yoga, a new language, stained glass or playing a musical instrument are just a few of the skills that can be picked up by taking a class from Juneau Community Schools.

Joyce Kitka, Community Schools supervisor, said a community education program has existed in Juneau since 1975 but has changed throughout the years.

"It's changed in many different facets," Kitka said. "There was a time when it was funded by the state and when that was gone, we didn't get to nurture the program as well or help instructors get prepared."

Instructors are not required to have certification or a degree in their subject, simply a desire to teach what they know, Kitka said.

"It's just community people sharing their passion," Kitka said. "It takes a lot of time and commitment to be an instructor, but they have the flexibility to chose when they teach and how long their classes will be. Some of the instructors have been teaching for years."

Cost of a class equals $3.50 per hour of instruction plus expenses for materials, Kitka said. The course fee is split halfway between instructor and the program. She said all money to the program goes back into keeping Community Schools going.

Donna Pagenkopf learned the art of stained glass in 1990 and in 1997 decided to teach a community class.

"A group from my church had asked me to teach them, and it was so much fun I thought I'd try teaching," Pagenkopf said. "I've met a lot of really nice people who have had a desire to learn about stained glass."

Kitka said she thinks it is important for education to be a continuous process from birth throughout adulthood and the community schools program supports that.

"Facility usage of the schools sees about 400,000 visits per year. There are an incredible amount of people going in and out of the schools," Kitka said. "All of the instructors are so excited about what they're doing."

Community Schools budget is separate from Juneau Douglas School District. Money for the program is received from the City of Juneau in the Parks and Recreation Department.

"Working with parks and recreation is great and allows them to operate their programs and lets us offer more courses," Kitka said.

Pagenkopf said that while she enjoys teaching classes, she also has benefited from taking classes on various topics.

"I appreciate the community schools program in Juneau and the people in the community willing to share their knowledge," Pagenkopf said. "I know how hard people at community schools work. It's the kind of thing I enjoy what I do and I respect the efforts of the community."

The schedule of winter courses may be found online at A booth will be available from noon-3 p.m. at Nugget Mall on Sunday, Jan. 15 for enrollment. Kitka said participants also may enroll over the phone at 523-1773 or in person from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at the Marie Drake Building.