If you've ever marveled at a photo of a NASA space shuttle as it rockets into the stratosphere, chances are you're looking at the work of Frank Jackowiak. The expert photographer counts NASA among the many clients for whom he captures inimitable images. Others—including Canon, Chrysler, Nikon, Sears, EAA- Experimental Aircraft Association, and Air & Space— have led him to hone the expert skills he now uses to guide fledgling shutterbugs at his Naperville studio. Here, Jackowiak taps into his experiences teaching college courses to teach students how to work their digital or manual cameras, starting with basic camera operation, and progressing to topics such as composition, lighting, and squeezing one eye shut. In doing so, he also helps unearth each student's inner artist, encouraging them to pursue whichever type of photography inspires them most.
One fish peeks out inquisitively from behind a lichen-covered tank. Others swim through the windows and railings of a sunken ship, passing odd artifacts such as an electric guitar or a sign reading "Tricycle parking only." Surreal scenes like these aren’t accessible to most landlubbers, but they’re part of a worldwide subaquatic playground for Dive Right In’s students and staff of certified dive instructors and instructor trainers. An SDI, ERDi, and TDI five-star instructor training facility, the shop is helmed by teachers who coach their customers to achieve RTSC standards, and employ many of the same skills they use to train police, fire department, and lifeguard dive teams.
Among the caves and wrecks of local quarries and Lake Michigan, instructors prepare their trainees to dive down as far as 60 feet, the farthest depth at which they can guarantee there’ll be no sea monsters. They also lead courses in TDI technical diving, diver First-Aid, and specialty certifications such as adventure or rescue diver. Inside the dive shop, techs sell and repair masks, snorkels, wetsuits, and gear such as dive computers, regulators, and tanks.
Nestled in the historic Flanders House, Art Cube Studios contributes to the creative community in three distinct ways. First and foremost are their all-ages art classes, available in both one-off workshops and multiweek curriculums. The classes give participants the opportunity to work with media such as ceramics, acrylic paint, watercolors, the written word, and invisible ink for the extra shy. The studio’s second contribution is as a venue where students and resident artists can sell their work during a show. Finally, anyone in the community is welcome to rent out studio space by the hour, day, week, month, or pound.
The only thing more fun than watching babies and toddlers make music is being the baby or toddler making music (unless you're riding a roller coaster). Plunge head-first into melodies with today's Groupon: for $15, you get a two-week sing-along session for a child and parent at Music Together of Naperville ($30 Value). There are locations in Aurora, Naperville, and Plainfield. Children between the ages of birth and 6 can participate in these classes.
As the Plainfield community has grown, so has its park district. Although the district was established in 1966, a population boom in the early '90s led to more diversified facilities, each one with different features. The Ottawa Street Pool, for example, invites visitors to bask in 200,000 gallons of crystal-blue water with diving boards and lap lanes, while the Normantown Trails Equestrian Center offers horseback-riding lessons and neighing tutorials in an indoor arena.
The equine experts at AZ Acres Incorporated teach fledgling steed bestriders the horseback riding essentials with a series of hands-on, once-weekly lessons. Classes are capped at four students to ensure individualized attention and an intimate learning environment. Two 30-minute basic lessons help students master the fundamentals of pony piloting. Pupils practice skills such as walking, trotting, and fox trotting, spending the whole lesson nestled in the proverbial saddle.