Despite a close encounter with a hammerhead shark, Learn Scuba Chicago's Captain Bob just keeps on scuba diving. The aquatic expert got an up-close peep of shark teeth on his very first Caribbean dive, yet has scarcely taken his flippers off since. He started Learn Scuba Chicago four years ago in a garage as a grassroots effort to build community. Captain Bob and crew lead diving courses, which range from thrilling dips for beginners to instructor certifications. The calendar is flexible so students can plunge into indoor pools at their own pace at a variety of locations, such as Water's Edge Aquatic Center in Bensenville, the UIC campus, and Northeastern Illinois University campus, with open water dives held at Kankakee's Haigh Quarry.
Understanding that each child learns differently, the staff members of Sylvan Learning’s numerous study centers design custom lesson programs. Based on the results of standardized testing, diagnostic tools, and one-on-one interviews, the staff works with students to help them firmly grasp basic skills such as reading, writing, math, and how to remember facts without tattooing them to their chests. Programs target students in kindergarten through grade 12 and mold to various learning styles, helping kids feel more comfortable in the classroom. Afterschool or summer classes can ready high-school students for the rigors of the ACT or the SAT, or they can help students wow college-admissions officers with their superior writing skills, exemplary test scores, and willingness to arm-wrestle the school mascot.
The Sylvester family had bartending in its blood. Whether it was Uncle Mickey holding court with 40 years' worth of regulars or Tony Sr. mixing one of his signature Skip and Go Nakeds, they exemplified the easy grace and no-nonsense craftsmanship found in a true barman's barman. That dedication to well-poured drinks carried over to Tony Jr., who has spent the last 35 years training mixologists nationwide through the curriculum of his ABC Bartending Schools. Taught behind fully functional bars, his courses educate students in topics ranging from drink recipes and equipment setup to flair moves and alcohol awareness. His schools also emphasize employment; after graduation, students can take advantage of a nationwide job placement service to land gigs in Miami nightclubs, Las Vegas casinos, or the bar cars of Chicago's El trains.
Employing a battalion of teachers and other educators, Arrowhead Tutors pairs each student with a thoroughly screened expert to aid them in understanding any subject. The staff at Arrowhead Tutors is ready to coach students on an array of subjects, including foreign languages ($40/hour) and full 12-hour ACT prep packages (a $700 value). Students from kindergarten to twelfth grade can also opt for a Try Us package, linking up with a tutor at the cheerful facility before spending three hours immersed in untangling anything from Hamlet to the advanced ciphers used to communicate across playgrounds. In addition to the personal attention, tutees receive an assessment test based on Illinois State standards: 20–30 questions either centered on a single subject or focused comprehensively on grade-level-relevant material. Taking about an hour to complete, the assessment test both illuminates problem areas and sharpens each student’s ability to use No. 2 pencils as makeshift chopsticks.
The team at Art-4-Kids believes that art plays a crucial role in children’s development, boosting creativity, encouraging self-expression, and helping improve problem-solving skills, concentration, and self-confidence. At their summer and winter camps, youngsters paint, draw, and create projects before leaving the program with a portfolio of vibrant work to call their own. During weekly classes, students dip their brushes into acrylics and watercolors, practice shading with graphite and pastels, and knead clay into unique works of art. The studio also creates colorful birthday memories during its parties, where celebrants paint canvases or ceramics, mold sculptures, or have their faces painted. Grownups can let their artistic instincts run wild too by scheduling a BYOB art night for up to 10 participants, sipping wine and painting their own acrylic masterpieces with step-by-step instruction from an artist.