American Real Estate Academy has been helping students master the intricacies of property sales for 42 years. Its carefully selected instructors lead classes for neophytes looking to get their salesperson license, learn the ins and outs of the business, and find out the startling truth about where houses come from. The academy boasts higher test scores for its students than the state average, and many students go on to successful careers. The academy also helps real-estate veterans step up to a broker license in preparation to open their own office and work for themselves. Continuing-education courses keep professionals up to date on current rules and regulations, fulfilling state-mandated requirements and keeping licenses active.
Helmed by a mother-daughter duo, The Paint Bar nurtures budding artists through themed painting classes set in a welcoming atmosphere. Brush-stroking disciples receive step-by-step guidance from skilled instructors, who lead classes designed to replicate a specific image, such as the famous Citgo sign, Boston's skyline, or van Gogh’s lesser known masterpiece, Frowny Emoticon. The Paint Bar supplies Monets-in-training with a 16"x20" canvas, paint, brushes, an easel, and an apron, though painters should wear clothes they don't mind getting splattered. Classes are generally held four or five times per week, at varying time slots; check out the calendar to reserve a spot, as class space is limited. Though this Groupon is not valid for alcohol, The Paint Bar offers an intoxicating selection of brews, wine, and all of the 1975 issues of Popular Mechanics.
Olympia Fencing Center founder and coach Daniel Hondor started his swordplay career with dreams of earning a spot among the Three Musketeers. Enthralled by the adventures of the trio, 7-year-old Daniel picked up his first rapier, beginning an association with fencing that would eventually take him around the world as a member of Romania’s national team. Eventually, after years of international dueling, he set down the sword and took up the mantle of coach, teaching the Romanian junior team techniques he’d learned throughout his career. The Olympics in Atlanta finally brought him to America, where he continues to share the art of fencing with students of all experience levels. He and his fellow instructors lead adult programs that help veteran swordsmen sharpen their skills and introduce novices to the sport’s intricacies. In homage to his childhood inspiration, he also hosts Musketeers classes that acquaint kiddies aged 6–10 with basic rules and moves, preparing them for future classes and eventual careers as knights of the realm.
The staff members at Sylvan Learning's numerous centers understand that each child learns differently. Therefore, they don’t try to implement a uniform tutoring system; instead, they design custom lesson programs based on the results of a skills assessment using diagnostic tools and one-on-one interviews.
Tutors work with students from pre-kindergarten through grade 12, illuminating topics ranging from basic reading and writing to remembering complex algebraic formulas without having them tattooed on your chest. Many of Sylvan’s instructors work in local schools, so they are intimately familiar with common curricula and understand how to gear lessons toward optimal results. Camps and after-school and summer classes can ready high-schoolers for the rigors of the ACT or the SAT, or they can help students to wow college-admissions officers with their superior essay-writing skills.
The staff at Good Vibrations aren't salespeople—they're SESAs, or Sex Educator-Sales Associates. The title was invented by the store to reflect not only the rigorous training that the employees go through, but also the open and empowering attitude that they project. They encourage questions about the stock of romantic accouterments, and dispense safe, respectful advice on enhancing erotic play. For the SESAs, knowledge is a stepping stone to pleasure. They've even employed the same sexologist and historian—Dr. Carol Queen—for more than 20 years to host a regular "Ask the Doctors" class.
Above all, the staff keeps a warm and welcoming shop—a characteristic that automatically distinguished Good Vibrations from its counterparts when it opened in 1977. Its philosophies have garnered the company plenty of press accolades since opening. Extending the positive, forward-thinking ethos beyond the shop's walls, the company has committed to environmentally friendly wares with its Ecorotic collection of natural lubricants—as well as eco-friendly packaging. The shop is also stocked with candles, costumes, and lingerie with the Oakland, Berkeley, and San Francisco locations carrying their largest supply of nightwear.