Nashville Community Education

Why You Need to Tell Your Life Story

Amy L

1. We are very excited about having this class for the fall, what inspired you to create this class? 

I was inspired to create a class devoted to writing one’s life story when spending time with my mother in her later years. She lived to be ninety-four, and although I got a lot of my questions answered about my family and our history along the way, I still don’t know much about a cousin named Roxie Malinda, buried in the corner of a family cemetery plot in Oxford, Mississippi, for example. I also had the pleasure of listening to the stories of my mother’s friends as they aged, and they took such delight in having someone listen, and I felt lucky to be hearing them. So, I want to encourage others to write while they can for those left behind to know them better. Just as important, though, I’m finding that the process of writing one’s life story, in one’s own words, is a valuable exercise in and of itself. For it allows us to look back on what we’ve accomplished and taken some satisfaction; it encourages us to honor our relationships and mourn our losses, and it invites us to address parts of our life that still need some attention.

2. Tell us more about yourself?

I was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi, and I moved to Nashville in 1993 to work for a publishing company. By then, I had lived in Knoxville and Washington, DC., and earned degrees in English and journalism. I consider Nashville home, and I love this city: its people, its energy, its creativity, its natural beauty. About ten years ago, I went back to school and got a graduate degree in theology at Vanderbilt. I believe creativity and spirituality are integrally linked, and the divinity school experience allowed me to expand the development of my work devoted to helping people claim and celebrate their authentic voices. I’ve led workshops on creativity, spirituality, and SoulCollage® throughout the Southeast and at the Chautauqua Institution in New York. In addition to writing and reading, I enjoy volunteering, wandering around Radnor Lake, hanging out with my husband and our dog named Norval, and listening to people’s stories.

3. What type of stories will students focus on telling in this class? 

Instead of outlining our lives based solely on chronology, we’ll explore memorable events, major milestones, and important relationships. We’ll also celebrate our accomplishments and acknowledge our regrets.

4. What are some stories that are important to you that you’ve had a chance to compose?

I’ve written a good deal about the deaths of my parents, marrying later in life, and aging. Such writing has allowed me to better process these major life events and inspired me to keep going, keep questioning, keep writing my way through. I also wrote about helping my mother adapt to life after my father died in a piece that aired on National Public Radio. That was a great experience for both Mother and me.

5. Why do you believe telling your life story is important?

I believe it’s the sharing of our stories that saves us: as individuals, as corporate entities, as community advocates, as fellow pilgrims. Through the simple act of saying to someone, ‘This is what happened to me,’ we open connection to others. It reminds us that we are all in this thing called life together and that even when it seems we are all alone, we’re not.


Amy Lyles Wilson, M.A., M.T.S., is a published writer, experienced editor, and longtime workshop leader. A co-author or contributor to eight books, her work has been published in a variety of magazines and journals and on National Public Radio. She is trained in facilitating Amherst Writers and Artists and SoulCollage® workshops and holds a certificate in spiritual direction from the Haden Institute. More at

You can register for her new class: Telling Your Life Story, Oct 15-Nov 5, 1:00pm-3:00pm

Black Women in History


Black Women in History is a new class taking place at Inglewood Elementary. We interviewed the instructor Karyn Johnson about the upcoming class and what students will learn throughout the class.

  1. Welcome to Nashville Community Education! Tell our students more about yourself. My name is Karyn Johnson, and I'm originally from the Midwest (Chicago & Indianapolis). I have lived in Nashville for 14 years now, so I guess that makes me an official Southern Belle! I am the mother of two adult sons, ages 27 and 20 and one grandson. I am a writer and spoken word artist. You can usually find me reading a good book, working on my next writing project, or doing something fun like traveling, going to comedy shows, and trying to conquer the world!

  2. What interested you in teaching with Nashville Community Education? I want to teach with Nashville Community Education because they are so versatile in all of the classes they allow to be taught. You can meet such interesting people. I also have thought about teaching at a university, and this is a great way to get my feet wet.

  3. You are teaching "Black Women in History" why do you feel this is an important class? Black Women in History is such an important topic because we miss out on these amazing women who have done so much for our society. Black women have negative labels and negative connotations placed on us, such as the angry black woman, that we do not get a chance to be celebrated. This class gives us a chance to view Black women from a different place. 

  4. 4.    What are some things students will learn about in this upcoming class? We are going to look at 3-4 different Black women who have left their marks in history. We'll discuss what contributions they made, the lives they lived, and the struggles they survived. I'll also ask each student to research and present a Black woman of their choice for the last class. 

  5. Why did you pick the book, "Shifting: The Double Lives of Black Women in America" for this class? I thought this would be a great discussion piece on how we must be one way in our professional lives and different in our personal lives as well as outside of our community or comfort zone. The way we act, speak and interact varies depending on where we are and who we are with, which is very much different from how our white female friends and coworkers must be. 

  6. Who are some of your favorite black women in history? Sally Hemings, Sarah Baartman, Florynce Kennedy, and Ruth Dunbar are some of my favorite women in history. 

  7. What are some topics about black culture and the black community that will be discussed? Besides some of our favorite Black women in history, we'll discuss how the Black woman of today is living and dealing with society, the community, etc.

  8. Why did you structure it as a research class? This was structured more as a research class for students to do their own discovery. It makes a class more interactive and exciting along with learning the subject better if the student can find information out for themselves and not just be told facts. 

  9.  When you are not teaching what are some hobbies you enjoy? I'm usually working out, going out to eat with friends, writing short stories or poems, reading, traveling, jumping double Dutch, hula hooping, watching Netflix, and getting in naps as much as I can!

  10. What are some of your favorite Nashville places to visit? Just when you think you have a favorite place in Nashville, something new pops up! I like going to the Casa de Montecristo in the Gulch, St. Anejo, also in the Gulch, Monell's in Germantown, Zanies Comedy Club on 8th Avenue South, Centennial Park off West End and the Pedestrian Bridge downtown. 

  11. What are two fun facts people may not know about you? My uncle was an Oscar-nominated actor, and I attended high school with comedian/actor Mike Epps and college with neo-soul singer, Erykah Badu. 

 Register for Black Women in History (October 15th- November 5th) at Inglewood Elementary.

Finding Your Passion & Purpose with Jazzmin Rodgers

Jazzmin Rodgers is teaching our Find Your Career with Passion & Purpose class that starts on September 11th! This class teaches students personal development to land a career you find purposeful.

We interviewed Jazzmin about her upcoming class.


1.      Tell us more about yourself!

My name is Jazzmin, and I am an HR Professional and Career Coach! I am the owner of the Millennial Success Coach, where we offer career services and coaching for high school and undergraduate students.

2.      Tell us more about your upcoming class?

My class is the MSC coaching program broken up into four sessions. Each class I will teach about the subject that day, then have an activity portion for the students. Class one is the intro where we introduce you to coaching and help students identify what their passions are. Class two is the personality test, class three is all about creating your career development plan, and class four is career tips on interviewing, resumes, LinkedIn, cover letter, etc.

3.      What inspired you to create this class about passion and purpose?

I feel that everyone should be doing something they enjoy doing. Work has ups and downs, but overall, you should feel passionate about your industry and position. If you don't, it can affect your overall happiness and health. I was inspired to create this coaching program on my journey, and if I had someone like me on my path to finding my passion, I would have jumped right on it!

4.      Why do you think it’s hard for people to find what they are passionate about?

It is hard because we can get caught up in what society says is the right path for us. School is amazing; however, school did not teach us to learn ourselves, learn the curriculum. Once you learn yourself, it is easier to identify what you find most passionate. We are forced to make life-changing decisions at a young age after graduating high school. During this age, we are still figuring out exactly who we are and what we like. Most times, we make the decision that is not best for us and correct that decision later in life. This program is tailored to prevent that from happening and fix it for those who are ready for a change.

5.      How will your class help people navigate into a career that they are passionate about?

First, I will help identify what it is the students are passionate about, then narrow those passions down to one. Then we focus on that one passion and create a strategic career plan around it.

6.      How does one find purpose in their career?

Someone finds purpose in their career by believing in what they do every day. If you can see the impact your role has in the organization, and believe in the values of what you do, you will find purpose in that. 

7.      What information should students gather about themselves, passion, or purpose before the class starts?

Before the class, students should be mentally ready and open. Your mindset is so important in this process. Students must be ready to do the work it takes to find your passion and being consistent with the choice you make.

8.      What other information do you believe students should know about your class?

I look forward to teaching this class. I love to help others solve career issues they are facing, and no one should ever feel like they are stuck in their current situation. You can find joy in what you do and make money from it! 

Register:, September 11- October 2, Wednesday 6:30pm-7:30pm.

Meet Nicole La Bailarina Salsa Basics Instructor


We interviewed our new instructor Nicole La Bailarina. She is teaching Salsa Basics.

We are excited to have you here with us to teach Salsa Basics this fall! Yay Me too!

1.     Tell our students more about you?! I'm a Nashville Native (#unicorn), and I've been teaching Salsa and Bachata for the past six years.

2.     When did you get interested in Salsa? After I graduated from college. I had a background in Modern dance and was looking for a way to keep dancing.

3.     Do you enjoy other forms of dancing? I do! Contemporary and Modern will always have my heart. I also enjoy Bachata, Kizomba, Zouk, and ChaChaCha!

4.     Why is Salsa a great activity to participate in? Salsa is a fun way to work out and socialize! It helps relieve some stress and boost your confidence.

5.     Why do you think people believe Salsa is hard to learn? They watch too much Dancing With The Stars. I'm not teaching acrobatics, lol


6.     Do you always need to have a partner when joining a Salsa class? No! It’s a great way to meet new people. I have everyone rotate in class so they can get to know one another and feel how different people dance.

7.     What do you think is the most challenging aspect of teaching Salsa? Timing to the music. I once had someone tell me that when they first started Salsa music was “an incomprehensible wall of sound” Yikes!

8.     What are some benefits of Salsa dancing? So many! Beyond the physical and emotional things like wellness and having fun, the most significant benefit is being part of a community of some of the most amazing souls in Nashville.

9.     What advice would you give anyone who wants to learn Salsa? Try it today. Don’t second guess it. You’ll wish you had started sooner.


Register today for Salsa Basics, September 9th-30th, Inglewood Elementary, 6:00pm-7:00pm.

7 Questions About Gut Health with Laura Rodriguez


Laura has taught our Nashville Farmer’s Market, Seasonal Cooking Class for several sessions and now she is here to offer another new class to our students, Cooking for Gut Health. Laura has shared some information with us regarding gut health and ways to heal it.

1.      Tell us more about your class.

This class is going to be a two-hour cooking demo showcasing how to make delicious composed dishes that help promote gut health. I will start with a lecture and then I will show you how to make a gut healthy breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Then we will eat together!

2.      Why is Gut Health an important topic?

Current medical research is showing that gut health is synonymous with overall health. Poor gut health is directly connected to several chronic conditions plaguing Americans today: fatigue, anxiety, depression, memory loss, chronic inflammation, digestive issues, etc. If I can help just one person learn how to eat to lessen the effects of a gut related condition, that's important work in my opinion. 

3.      When a person does not have a healthy gut microbiome, what other illnesses can be affected?

According to lead functional medical doctors that specialize in gut health, too little good bacteria in the gut and a buildup of too much bad bacteria can lead to a wide range of illnesses such as candida, SIBO, IBS, leaky gut, heart disease and even cancer. 

4.      In this class you will be teaching about foods that heal the gut, can you share with our audience what foods you recommend people start with?

Fiber rich foods like whole fruits and vegetables are number one for feeding good gut bacteria. I also recommend people increase their intake of probiotic rich foods like good quality yogurt and fermented foods like kimchi and sauerkraut. 

5.      What are some tips you will go over in class?

I will share tips on what to eat during cravings for sugar and carbs, give students healthy snack ideas, and of course share tips on how to make cooking from scratch quick and easy.

6.      How does someone know that their issues are gut related?

Read as much as you can. Listen to podcasts. Take the Amy Myers Leaky Gut Quiz. Research your symptoms and present them to your doctor. Be your own advocate. As Dr. Dates Kharrazian said, " Educate yourself. You need to be smarter than any doctor you’ll see. This is about your health, this is about your life, and no one knows you better than you.”  

7.      If someone is wanting to make some chances to their gut health, what are some steps they need to start with?

Come to the class and you'll learn where to start. Basically, you must clean up your diet, reduce your stress level, and repair the lining of the gut.

Register for the class Cooking for Gut Health

Learn Podcasting Basics with Christopher Taylor


I hope you’re ready for our Podcasting Basics course, because I know that I am! Podcasting has grown exponentially over the last 10-15 years and is only getting bigger. Numbers show that 44% of the U.S. population has listened to a podcast, and I’m almost certain that number has increased since this poll was taken. I believe podcasting is a great way to put your message out to the world, whether you do a formal show, an informal show, a how-to show or a litany of other things. So, I say if you’ve ever thought to yourself, “I’ve got something to say,” or “I could teach people about this,” or even “I always wanted to be on the radio,” podcasting is for you! I want everyone that has ever had the itch to podcast or those that don’t even know what a podcast is, to join our Podcasting Basics class starting January 24th at 6:30p.m. at the Cohn School. I hope to see you there! -Christopher Taylor

5 questions with Podcasting Instructor

1. Why do you believe Podcasts have been so popular lately? I believe they’ve gained more popularity because the world is changing and the way we receive information is changing as well.

2. What would you say makes a great podcast show? I believe that having authentic content and your own sound.

3. What is the one thing you have learned over the last year doing your own podcast that has really made a difference in your show? I have learned that you must be willing to change and/or adapt to different audiences but always stay true to yourself.

4. What are some of your favorite podcasts shows? Brilliant Idiot’s Podcast, The Joe Budden Podcast and The Right, with Bomani Jones.

5.  What is one thing you believe every student will walk away understanding after taking Podcasting Basics? I want people to walk away understanding that a podcast is whatever you want it to be and much more. It’s not something that has to be too complicating and to remember that this is supposed to not be WORK but FUN as well.

Register for the Podcasting Basics class that starts on October 23rd.

Fencing at Nashville Community Education by Donovan Grimwood, Fencing instructor


The Princess Bride, Zorro, Pirates of the Caribbean, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars… the idea of wielding a sword has captured imaginations and led to many a backyard duel with sticks. Some people never quite grow out of that. And why should we? As part of the Nashville Community Education program, fencing has been offered for many years so that people can experience the thrill of wielding a sword. But even more so, learn the skills in a safe and inexpensive manner on their way to becoming a fencer.

Yes, I said safe. Because with the proper gear, fencing is one of the safest sports that you or your children can become involved in. And we make sure to provide that gear as part of the class (keeping it relatively inexpensive). There was research done some time ago that showed that fencing was as safe as golf. So… if you are willing to go out on the golf course, how about trying something that may be more exciting? At least fencing is for me. And considering that we’ve had students ranging from age 8 (when we had a youth fencing class) up to 70+ (and they are still a competitive fencer in the area), signing up for the class is your chance to try out something new, different, and exciting. Are you ready to come en garde?

Learning more about fencing and Donovan Grimwood

In addition to the skills necessary to be able to fence (attack, parry, footwork), it also teaches quick thinking and sharpens the mind as much as the body. -Donovan Grimwood

1.      As the instructor what’s your favorite part about fencing and coaching fencing?

I enjoy introducing new people to the sport and helping them develop their skills. It is also great to get to know the fencers over the years as they continue to come back.

2.      How would you describe fencing to someone who has never fenced before?

Fencing is the safe, but exciting sport of swordsmanship. It's a great and unique workout and sport to learn.

3.      What skills will students learn in your fencing class?

In addition to the skills necessary to be able to fence (attack, parry, footwork), it also teaches quick thinking and sharpens the mind as much as the body.

4.      What is one thing you can highlight about the industry that people don’t know about?

The Modern Olympics were founded by a fencer and it has been featured in every Olympics. Currently there are over 25,000 competitive fencers in the U.S. with the sport growing. It is also one of the few martial arts that doesn't have weight classes and is one of the most inclusive of sports. Fencers in most competitions can range from age 13 to 80+, and there are age groups for fencers as young as 7.