As a child, Kyle Mathis would try to play anything even remotely resembling a guitar—that is, until he was 10 years old. That year, his financially struggling parents bought him his first guitar, a black acoustic Harmony. He spent much of the following decade honing his skills on the fretboard. After his band won a fateful competition, he launched into the national touring circuit. Today, when he isn't busy touring as the guitarist of Parabelle, he straps on his guitar and passes on his knowledge to other budding musicians.
With gauged ears and tattooed arms, Kyle's look might skew more towards rock star than down-to-earth music teacher—yet he is accommodating, holding in customer's homes as well as his professional studio. During each one-hour class, he teaches students all the basics of guitar artistry that they must learn before they can shred, from basic chords and finger placement to the basic mid-solo kickflip.
Waterways snake all over the planet's surface, many emptying into a great blue ocean. As many scuba divers have found, those depths comprise a whole other world to explore—and require a specific set of skills to conquer. At SCUBASTOP, certified instructors use their knowledge to open that aquatic world to just about anyone.
Students here first get their feet wet with Discover Scuba, a class that teaches the absolute basics of diving. Anyone inspired to delve further can enroll in a PADI certification course that starts in classrooms and heated pools before voyaging out to the open waters of Balmorhea State Park or The Blue Lagoon scuba park. Specialized advanced courses are also available for anyone interested in rescue diving, digital underwater photography, or joining an improv group run by clown fish.
At Off Duty Armory, instructors with backgrounds ranging from hunting to antiterrorism operations lead classes that include standard NRA courses, women's-only sessions, and one-on-one training. The facility also houses a pro shop, where weapons experts dispense advice on both armed and nonlethal forms of self-defense.
Understanding that each child learns differently, the staff members of Sylvan Learning Center’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. After-school or summer classes can ready high-school students for the rigors of the ACT or the SAT, or wow college admissions officers with their superior writing skills, exemplary test scores, and willingness to arm-wrestle the school mascot.
Founded in 1977, Huntington Learning Center employs a battalion of highly trained tutors who help students succeed both at school and in standardized testing. The academic evaluation, consisting of exams performed in a simulated classroom environment, yields a comprehensive collection of data that tutors use to design a custom learning program and a personalized, in-class obstacle course.
Equipment: State-of-the-art sprung floors, mirrors, and barres
Average class length: 60 minutes
Class location: Indoors only
Registration required: Yes
Good for beginners: Yes
Parking: Parking lot
Pro Tip: Want the look of a dancer but never owned ballet shoes? Miss ballet? Then DREAM Barre is for you.
"D.R.E.A.M." stands for dance, recreation and fitness, education, arts, and mentoring, and the Family D.R.E.A.M. Center stands for all that plus community and Biblical teachings. Dance, music, and fine art classes provide space for every member of the household to learn, grow, and connect. Instructors draw on the Bible in character-building classes that teach subjects such as phone manners, transportation etiquette, and which fork to fling first at a food fight. Carrying off this ambitious scope is a "D.R.E.A.M. team" of instructors who are all degreed, working professionals in their respective fields, from graphic design to dance to speech therapy.