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Central Standard

Meet The Teachers Of Some Unusual Classes At UMKC's Communiversity

Patrick Quick

The fall semester of Communiversity is getting underway at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. This all-volunteer adult education program allows Kansas Citians to take and teach a collection of esoteric classes that you may not find anywhere else. 

Central Standard's Gina Kaufmann talked to a few of the instructors, everyday folks with unusual skills to teach.

Let Horses Help You With Your Life Transition

Credit Patrick Quick / KCUR
Bonnie E. Benson is a licensed clinical social worker and EAGALA certified mental health professional.

In this class, Cathy Cowger and Bonnie E. Benson help participants gain a sense of direction by interacting with horses. Students attempt to understand their life choices through building a relationship with these sensitive animals. 

"Horses are herd animals," Cowger said. "They build relationships with other horses in the herd, and in that process they build a big sensitivity to each other and that transfers to us. So when we are out there in the arena with them, their behavior is in response to us. Their behavior can give us a lot of information about ourselves."

Sea Chantey Singing

Kathy Peters, a folk DJ at KKFI-FM, takes students on a music adventure with her class. Peters, who used to be a grade school music teacher, leads the class in singing these spirited work song and shares the history of how sailors used sea chanteys to synchronize repetitive tasks.

"I started going to the Sea Music Festival in Mystic Seaport Connecticut with my late husband. Every evening there would be a chance to go across the street to the old German hall and drink beer and somebody would lead a sea chantey and everybody would join in on the chorus and I said, what fun," said Kathy Peters.

So You Want To Be A Librarian?

Credit Patrick Quick / KCUR
Chris LeBeau is a business librarian at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

The business librarian at UMKC, Chris LeBeau, uses her personal experience to help others find their inner librarian. LeBeau describes what it means to be a guardian of these "little cities" of knowledge.

"A lot of people come to us, sometimes refugees from the classroom," LeBeau said. "They've been teaching, and they want to get out of the classroom and they want to stay in education. " 

Communiversity runs from Sept. 22 until Dec. 13.


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People don't make cameos in news stories; the human story is the story, with characters affected by news events, not defined by them. As a columnist and podcaster, I want to acknowledge what it feels like to live through this time in Kansas City, one vantage point at a time. Together, these weekly vignettes form a collage of daily life in Kansas City as it changes in some ways, and stubbornly resists change in others. You can follow me on Twitter @GinaKCUR or email me at gina@kcur.org.
Matthew Long-Middleton has been a talk-show producer, community producer, Media Training Manager and now the Community Engagement Manager at KCUR. You can reach him at Matthew@kcur.org, or on Twitter @MLMIndustries.