While some artists gravitate toward certain media, Ilene Layow—or “Eye” to her friends since childhood—unabashedly loves them all: glass, pencil, clay, pastel, metals, acrylic. Her body of artwork is staggeringly diverse. She has designed murals for both homes and businesses, painted family portraits, created silver jewelry, formed intricate candleholders out of clay, and fused glass to form night lights perfect for scaring off closet monsters that hate beauty. She has even developed her own art form she calls “formscapes,” which combine the gentle contours of landscapes with abstracted shapes. In flexible classes tucked into a tidy ranch house, she introduces many of the crafts she loves to teen and adult students.
The teachers at Quantum Prep recognize that each of their students possesses a unique learning style, and they craft a curriculum personal to each pupil. Whether teachers are tutoring grade-school students, helping with homework, or prepping a high schooler for the SAT, the process remains the same. They devise the best way to teach each individual student—based on a profile of his or her learning style—and then work to build a sturdy knowledge base. Once that’s in place, they not only add new knowledge and skills, but also foster better study habits. During the nine hour videos of SAT prep, students learn 100 subtopics and practice with the official SAT prep problems disclosed by the test writers.
Riley Greider is the mind, hands, and sweet teeth behind Sugar Mountain Bake Shoppe, a gourmet bakery specializing in cupcakes. More than 128 flavors rotate across the shop’s menu in groups of 13 to 20 each day, baked daily in small batches from fresh ingredients.
With such an enormous repertoire of recipes, the cupcake case has room for classics such as carrot cake alongside fancier flavors such as cinnamon french toast and cherry crème brûlée—not to mention the decidedly outlandish, such as loaded baked potato and Game Day Chili. While retaining a home-baked look, many of the cakelets wear elaborate toppers of sprinkles, frosting swirls, or fruit. All this creativity won the shop the title of Best Cupcakes in City Newspaper’s 2011 Readers’ Choice poll.
At RockVentures, climbers of all ages and experience levels scale challenge-filled walls lining the 18,000-square-foot facility. Classes impart students with surefooted spirit and fundamental climbing skills such as anchoring the rope for comrades. In addition to individual challenges, the center hosts several group events, ranging from team-building weekends to kids' birthday parties and summer camps. Rock Ventures grants discounted admission to veterans and their families with advance reservation on Saturday mornings, and helps disabled climbers conquer the rocks by using block-and-tackle systems to hoist themselves up.
Owner Kent Winchester informs his work at RockVentures with a multifaceted history of leadership and team-building experience, including a stint in the Peace Corps.
For more than 25 years, Kiddie Kollege has fostered a love of learning in kids age 6 weeks–12 years, offering safe, nurturing day-care programs led by a caring and experienced staff. Staff members develop individual schedules for each child age 6 weeks–18 months, curious kids 18 months–3 years develop their motor coordination and confidence with structured activities, and preschool kids, age 3–5, participate in a storybook-based curriculum that introduces literacy, language, math, and science. Staff members assess each child twice a year to identify developing skills and needs. Kids age 5–12 build friendships and academic skills with book readings, games, and field trips, along with supervised science experiments where they'll learn how to transmogrify homework about physics into homework about fudgsicles. The staff-to-child ratio is four to one for infants, five to one for toddlers, eight to one for preschoolers, and ten to one for school-aged children.
The literature lovers at Writers & Books welcome readers to revel and mingle in costumes inspired by their favorite character at the store's annual masquerade. From 8 p.m. to midnight, partygoers of all ages can enjoy a ball with a literary twist that doesn't end in being turned back into a pumpkin carved in the likeness of Mr. Hyde. To prepare for the bash, party planners deck each room in the store—a historic former police precinct building—in the trappings of a genre such as horror, sci-fi, romance, fairytale, or mystery. In addition to macabre games and readings, the spooky soiree will feature raffles and a spirited costume contest. Attendees should bring cash for drinks, raffle tickets, and tipping the scurrying, disembodied hand that mixes the cocktails.