Yes, my friends, it's time once again to recognize our city's best classes, best educational venues and best teachers. The envelope, please ...
Best class -- The IUPUI Community Learning Network offers scads of great classes, but my favorite this year was the Immersion Spanish Institute, taught by Amy Bomke-Keating. The class, which runs for a full week, offers almost 40 hours of intense Spanish instruction, and yet it manages to be fun and engaging. Now, I can finally hold a conversation in Spanish, instead of just asking where the bathroom is.
Best continuing education venue -- This year's undisputed winner is the IU Mini University program, hands down one of the best educational experiences of my life. In a single week, I learned about piracy, Shakespeare, great hoaxes, the history of puzzles and so much more. It's summer camp for grown-ups, and I can't wait until next year!
Best instructor -- Instead of honoring an individual teacher, this year's award goes to the entire "cast" of Conner Prairie's annual Conner Prairie by Candlelight event. As participants travel from house to house in the pioneer village, these actors tell stories of their families' holiday traditions. They're always ready with answers to guests' questions, and they do a wonderful job of fostering holiday spirit. This year, my husband and I stood out in the cold on purpose, just to sing a few more carols with these skilled "pioneers."
Strangest class topic -- The Eiteljorg Museum wins again, this time for a birch-biting workshop with artist-in-residence Kelly Church. The gist of the class: Create designs (such as turtles, butterflies and dragonflies) in birch bark ... with your teeth. It may be an artistic tradition, but to me it sounds pretty unsanitary.
Just as they do at the Academy Awards, let's take a moment to remember the losses in our educational family this year. The most difficult is the death of Joseph Allford, who taught at Frasier's Gourmet Foods and took home last year's award for best class. I think of him every time I scrape a vanilla bean or make raspberry fool with his recipe.
The other loss is the closing of Lawrence Township Community Education, where I learned to read tarot cards, make mosaics, and cook the world's best biscuits. I'm going to miss this venue's eclectic mix of inexpensive classes.
Finally, I owe a thank you to the thousands of readers who have made this blog so successful. Here's to another exciting, educational year!