Dustin Oliver has served as the choir and drama director at Akron North High School and the fine-arts director at Celebration Church, so he knows a thing or two about putting on a performance. Add to that nearly 15 years practicing the guitar, nearly 20 years honing his piano and voice skills, and at least a few minutes humming the theme to M.A.S.H., and it becomes obvious that this artist is a multi-talented whiz. An accomplished musician and composer with a Bachelor’s degree in music from Southeastern University, Dustin is earning his Master’s in theatre from the University of Akron, making him a veritable double threat and a valuable resource for aspiring musicians and actors. When not adding to his own skill set, he leads private and group music lessons in guitar, piano, bass, and voice for students ages 5 and older—as well as private and group acting lessions—following well-established curricula.
In 1880, the final fasteners and sleepers on the Valley Railway were tightened into place. It wouldn’t be long before a billowing cloud of steam announced the arrival of the first train running through the Cuyahoga Valley, a territory that had served as a passageway for foot traffic for thousands of years. Over the next century, the railway contributed to the growth of commerce between Akron and Cleveland, changing ownership multiple times, and transforming from a freight train, into a passenger train, back to a freight train, and finally into a UFO.
Now celebrating its 41st year of passenger-rail service, the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad transports sightseers over the historic rails through 33,000 acres of land owned by the National Park Service. With a year-round roster of trips, including wine- and beer-tasting excursions, passengers can set forth on morning, afternoon, and evening journeys that sweep past meadowlands, pinery, and rivers and give glimpses of native wildlife, such as fox, deer, bobcat mascots, and owls.
Golf: Inside & Out’s resident golf guru David Geier offers a comprehensive approach to golf training, helping golfers on their path to mastering the technical, tactical, physical, and mental elements of the game. As players pulverize golf balls at the studio’s indoor hitting bays, the watchful instructor observes and analyzes each swing with video technology. Golf students benefit from watching a video of their swings in slow motion, helping them understand nuggets of corrective advice and sympathize with brutally compressed golf balls. Geier also teaches principles of course management, physical training, and the mental and emotional training necessary to execute golf shots on a subconscious level, a process which can incorporate hypnotherapy.
Golf: Inside & Out also helps aspiring Arnold Palmers refine their skills with advanced club-fitting services. The shop's high-tech module evaluates customers' putts and swings, then tailors a custom blueprint that helps determine correct shaft flex, launch angle, and grip size. The device can also clarify the most compatible ball for a particular club.
Paula Atwell wasn't born an artist. She didn't pursue any art form in college, instead achieving a degree in English and a minor in accounting. After logging years in standard 9–5 jobs, she had an epiphany—it was time to do something for herself. Taking this newfound motivation to action, Paula enrolled in a beading class and followed it with forays into metalsmithing, crafting, and soldering.
These experiments in creativity led her to join the Lake Erie Artists co-op in 2003, where she began to show her eclectic jewelry at their booth during local festivals. When the co-op became incorporated in 2005, Paula's business world experience made her an obvious choice to lead the diverse group of artists in forming their own gallery. Today, the co-op-turned-gallery now carries hundreds of art pieces that span a range of media.
Producing blown-glass sculptures and handcrafted metal jewelry and pottery, the artists each specialize in a few select media as decided during the gallery's annual game of spin-the-paintbrush. The staff at Lake Erie Artists Gallery is also a strong proponent of local business, encouraging their patrons to browse Shake Square after looking at their wares. In project-oriented classes taught by working artists, students explore jewelry and painting and leave with their handcrafted pieces.
Behind a real bar, the instructors at Toledo Bartending School mix cocktails with finesse and expertise, running through barroom staples and cutting-edge recipes as students look on in bewildered anticipation. After the lectures and demonstrations, the metaphorical table turns, and students man the bar to master the skills necessary to serve drinks professionally. This is the regular scene during the school's 32-hour bartending course, a professional-caliber program that covers everything potential mixologists will need to know to sling drinks in the wild.
The course breaks down the ingredients of 75 specialty drinks and cocktails—including manhattans and martinis—as well as beer and wine information, customer-service techniques, and responsible alcohol service. The school also adheres to the Anheuser-Busch Beertender and Guinness Perfect Pour training programs. The program can be completed in four weeks, with weekend classes to accommodate schedules that are busier than a fireworks salesman on Woodrow Wilson’s birthday. Upon completion of the course, students can take advantage of Toledo Bartending School's job-placement program, which has landed students employment at venues such as Ritz Carlton hotels and resorts, McCormick & Schmick's, and Embassy Suites.
Grape guru and oenophile Marianne Frantz, who holds a diploma from London's Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) and who earned an Advanced Sommelier qualification from the Court of Master Sommeliers, founded American Wine School in 2002. She and her school have gone on to shepherd more than 10,000 sippers through classes, tastings, and grape-lookalike contests. Marianne, along with her knowledgeable staff, impart their vino wisdom in classes that range from the basic Wine 101 to the more extensive WSET certification courses. The school's classes and special events have even spilled into seven different states, teaching tongues across the nation to swirl, sniff, and taste the adult beverages and analyze why drinking wine while doing taxes is a bad idea.