[media-credit name=”Jordan Robins” align=”alignleft” width=”300″][/media-credit]by Julia Oran
In the movie Night at the Museum, Ben Stiller plays a night watchman who works at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City. After the sun sets, Stiller’s character discovers that the museum comes to life.
While this school does not have any Tyrannosaurus Rex skeletons running around or wax figures riding horses through the hallways after sundown, the halls and classrooms are bustling after students and teachers leave the building at the end of the day.
Thanks to Newton Community Education (NCE), a self-sustaining arm of the Newton Public Schools, in the evenings, the school “comes to life for the community,” according to adult program coordinator Robin Shaevel. NCE offers many classes to adults and children after the school day is done, said Robin Shaevel.
Some classes, such as babysitting, SAT prep and driver’s education, may be well-known to students, but many other classes are available, as well.
Shaevel said that NCE is an untapped gem in the community and many people “don’t know we are doing this and how valuable we are.” NCE “provides educational, social, cultural, spiritual and vocational programs for adults and children” at reasonable costs, she said.
Shaevel added, “We have very talented instructors that offer creative, fun and informational classes.”
Some of the NCE classes at this school include belly dancing, zumba, glee for the musically challenged, beekeeping, golf for beginners & high handicaps and a variety of languages such as French, Arabic, Italian and Gaelic.
Most classes are offered at least once a week for one to two hours.
Shaevel said that many of the art classes, such as Chinese brush painting, are extremely popular.
Earlier this fall, the glee class was featured in the Boston Globe. Lenna Kutner, a Newton resident, started the club because, “It’s a safe place where people can just sing. No one judges how you sound, no one cares how you sound,’’ according to the Globe.
Kutner added in the article, “It’s physically good for you, emotionally good for you.”
Shaevel said that NCE is sometimes approached by people like Kutner, and together, they work to develop the idea to create a class.
Other times, Shaevel said that she brainstorms and tries to use local vendors, such as Whole Foods, to be “resourceful and innovative” when creating classes.
Overall, if she had to choose one class to take, Shaevel said, “I’ll just say it in one word––musiclanguageartphotgraphyfoodcooking.
“There are just so many good classes.”