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Meet the October Adult Learners Institute instructors

(Chelsea Update would like to thank Joan Gaughan for the information in this story.)

If your enthusiasm for raking leaves has worn thin (or even if it hasn’t) classes offered by the Adult Learners Institute (ALI) during the month of October provide alternative sources of autumn recreation.

Veteran instructors as well as exciting newcomers continue to the chance to stimulate your curiosity and expand your intellectual horizons.

For several years, Hank Muir’s courses in a wide variety of popular genres have delighted scores of ALI students. On Tuesday afternoons, Oct. 1 and 8, his course in the Big Bands revives the music of the 1930s and 1940s with such names as Benny Goodman, Arty Shaw, Glenn Miller, Duke Ellington, Woody Herman and even some bands you that might surprise you.

On Oct. 2, David Mastie, a retired earth science teacher in the Ann Arbor Schools, and his wife, Marjorie, again welcome students into their own “Secret Garden.” A walking tour of eight major landscaped areas in their own 3-acre yard will be supplemented by a Power Point presentation drawing connections from art, royal scandals, Bible stories, cooking, and poisons. Be warned: this is more than your standard tour of pansies and peas.

On Oct. 24, Carol Shillington, a professor of biology at Eastern Michigan University, invites even those with arachnophobia, into the fascinating world of top predators of the natural world—spiders and other arachnids. Where they live, how they produce silk and how they choose mates and reproduce may surprise you. She aims to leave her students with an appreciation (if not a love) of these creatures.

Reverend Ken Phifer who recently taught a course in Women of the Old Testament describes this semester’s offering on Anti-Semitism as a story of “good people doing bad things and bad people doing worse things—a story central to Western culture and to Christianity. The first class is Friday morning Oct. 25 and continues for four more weeks into November.  

As challenging as that course may be, it could be paired with a three-week course on the roots, application and benefits of restorative justice as an alternative to punishment in our criminal justice system.

The course is taught by Kathie Gourlay and Carolyn Madden both of whom are members of the Friends of Restorative Justice of Washtenaw County. Kathie also volunteers with the American Friends Service Committee and the Michigan Collaborative to End Mass Incarceration.

Carol Mull was a gubernatorial appointee to the Michigan Freedom Trail Commission, serving from 2001-2012. She is an Underground Railroad scholar whose four classes on Oct. 4, 11, 18 and 25 will provide a documented history of early escapes, court cases and pockets of abolitionism from the time that European settlers brought slavery to Michigan Territory.

If you have ever had a meal at Silver Maples, you have experienced the culinary proficiency of Tom Zigman, the executive chef at Silver Maples. He will not only discuss the history of the five mother sauces but also show us how to use ordinary ingredients to turn a meal into something extraordinary.

Charlie Taylor was a postdoctoral fellow in brain science at the University of California Berkeley in the early 1980s and has been teaching classes on scientific topics for ALI for about a decade. Most of the classes have focused on how our brains work. This month on Tuesday afternoons, Oct. 15, 22 and 29, he is offering sessions on Genes, DNA and Ancestry.

Somewhat related to Dr. Taylor’s course is Bill O’Reilly’s class on Genealogy.  O’Reilly, a professional genealogist and the past president of the Irish Genealogical Society of Michigan, has helped clients throughout the world discover their roots in two class on Oct. 16 and 30.

Barbara Zikmund, a veteran ALI instructor with a doctorate in American religious history from Duke University is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. She is going to help us explore nine relationships that form the stories that shape our lives as individuals and communities.

Jeff Morrison’s parents gave him a camera when he was 9 years old and he has been taking pictures ever since. His free class at the Chelsea District Library on Tuesday evening, Oct. 29 will throw into focus the “guardians of Detroit”, that is, the architectural features of a “city that grew form a small frontier fort into a booming metropolis.”

Bulletins with more complete descriptions of the fall classes can be found at several locations throughout the area.

Registration is by mail only and the forms can be found within the bulletins as well as online at

You may also call us to request a catalog at (734) 292-5540.

Tuition fees range from $10 to $30 depending on the number of meetings and there is a $10 registration fee, which is accepted throughout the semester as long as space is available.

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1 thought on “Meet the October Adult Learners Institute instructors”

  1. Please send me a physical catalog and put me on your email list.

    Thank you!

    Terri Lukomski
    1219 Meadow Lane
    Chelsea, MI 48118

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