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J-Term Course Fair Generates Excitement

In January 2020, Randolph-Macon Academy students will pause in their regular school-year studies to take two three-week inquiry-based courses geared toward career and life skills development. Nicknamed the "J-Term," the offered classes will encompass a wide variety of special interests. On Wednesday, September 4th, the Upper School cadets had the opportunity to talk to each of the teachers sponsoring one of the 17 courses during the “J-Term Course Fair.”  

Dr. Larry Cousineau speaks with students about his J-Term offering, Life Hacks, which will cover clothing care, crafting, and cooking.

Overall, the students were impressed with the selection. “There’s a very wide variety, nothing is the same,” said Francesca Schaefer ‘21. “I saw ones I immediately wanted to do, and I saw a lot that I didn’t think I wanted to do, but now I’m considering.” Her first choice was Building Winning Arguments in School & Life, which will be team-taught by none other than R-MA President Brig Gen David C. Wesley, USAF, Retired, who was a JAG officer during his active duty career, and James Taafel ‘05, who was one of the top speech and debate students in America during his high school career.  

Some students, such as Cecelia Paredes ‘22, saw these courses as an opportunity to continue to build their college resumes. Cecelia hopes to become a pilot, so the logical first choice for her was Drone Applications, where she can expand her experience in remote piloting. Other students took this as an opportunity to focus on a personal passion; Boyu Zhu ‘21, who is in band, said he hoped to get his first choice of Dr. D’s School of Rock, where students will learn what it takes to make a rock band work, whether they play an instrument, sing, or learn the sound board.  

The instructors were just as enthusiastic as the students. The Jammin’ J-STOR & Noodle Tools team of Lynne Schoonover, Brian Barbour, and Elizabeth Rogers knew that as soon as they said their course focused on J-STORE, or journalism storage, cadets would zone out. So they broke out snacks and pizza to draw students to their table, where they could talk about how the course teaches a necessary college research skill, while also exploring what students need to learn successfully. (They ended up with over a page of sign-ups, so their sales pitch worked well!)

“I thought the kids were pretty interested, and excited,” said Commander Julianne Cochran, USN, Retired, who will be team-teaching (with Dr. Larry Cousineau) Life Hacks–Practical Life Skill Training, which covers the care of clothing (including mending), crafting, and cooking. “It impressed me to see how enthusiastic they were about it. It looks like they’re going to have fun.” 

In addition to those already mentioned, other planned courses include:

  • Mathmagic Land
  • Tools to DIY (encompassing carpentry, electrical, and plumbing)
  • How to Get the Job You Want
  • Unlocking Your Creative Potential
  • Financial Education Made Easy
  • Aquaponics & The Food We Eat
  • Mind & Body; Etiquette & Protocol
  • A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words
  • Multimedia Content Creation
  • Train with a Purpose (high-level work-out training)
  • Art & Engineering

The J-Term will run January 6th-24th, with a culminating symposium to be held on the final Friday.