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Longboat Key Education Center celebrates 30 years of ‘passion’

Mary Kane, center, teaches Sweet & Spirited Yoga at the Center.

SUSAN GOLDFARB
Guest Writer
goldfarb@lbknews.com

For 30 years area visitors and residents with a passion for learning have been cultivating that passion at The Longboat Key Education Center.

The not-for-profit educational organization was co-founded by Laura Taubes, a retired Scarsdale educator, and her marketing guru husband, Frank Taubes, in 1985.

Laura and Frank were part-time residents of Longboat Key. Although the sun and sea paradise of Longboat Key had plenty of boating, tennis, golf and a gorgeous beach, Laura believed that a center for adult enrichment would greatly enhance the lifestyle of its part-time and full-time residents. Laura’s belief was that continued learning keeps the mind active and the spirit young. That became the school’s mission long before lifelong learning became a popular concept. Frank and Laura bought and renovated the building located at 5370 Gulf of Mexico Drive.

Susan Goldfarb, Executive Director of The Longboat Key Education Center

The first few years Laura offered about 35 courses that included yoga, film history, Spanish, bridge, calligraphy, photography, French, magic, poetry, Greek myth, archeology and even ballroom dancing! The Gallery at The Education Center was created and curated by Laura’s son Timothy Taubes. His most memorable show was a 50-year retrospective of significant artists such as Syd Solomon who had at one time lived and worked in the area. As the school continued to grow Frank and Laura sold the building to The Longboat Observer and moved to the Centre Shops of Longboat Key in 1990 because there was increased square footage, a large parking lot and an elevator, which they wanted to provide for handicapped students.

I joined The Longboat Key Education Center in 1986 managing the center’s marketing and public relations on a part-time basis when my daughter was in pre-school. I left the center in the early 1990’s to take the full-time position of marketing and public relations director with The Sarasota Ballet and three years later joined Michael Saunders & Company in the same position. When I left Michael Saunders & Company and opened my own marketing and public relations business in 1996, I took an office in the same building as The Longboat Key Education Center. Laura hired me to do the school’s marketing and public relations. I soon found myself being totally absorbed in the school that I had always loved.

In 1997 Laura approached me with the proposal of appointing me executive director of the center. She wanted to spend more time with her grandchildren. She knew how much I loved the center; how I was always coming up with new ideas for programs and how I had the same passion for the school and its mission that she had when she founded it. It became clear to me that the school was the perfect manifestation for my degrees in literature, dance, French language, music, art and theatre! Finally all my education had marvelously culminated and placed itself on an ideal platform.  I will be forever grateful to Laura Taubes for giving me the opportunity to carry the torch for her dream, which then became my dream.

Everything I learned from marketing and public relations with the ballet and Michael Saunders I quickly applied to making the school bigger, attracting more students and providing even more comprehensive programs by adding backstage field trips to local arts organizations (all of whom I had worked with during by ballet days), daytrips throughout Florida, concerts, live jazz nights, theatrical productions, workshops and much more!

The school now offers 175 programs to nurture body, mind and spirit and includes everything from learning how to make sushi, to fishing and birding, to live theatre performances, qigong, yoga, meditation, world politics, movie discussion groups, film festivals, book clubs, conversational Italian, comparative religion, art, dance  and music history and appreciation, the solar system, ipads and iphones, writing workshops, Broadway bios, Islam, the Middle East and breakfast forums—to name a few! Developing new programs is my raison d’ệtre and seeing how much people enjoy their time with us is very gratifying!

Captain Wayne Genthner presents a “hook and cook” demo in Saltwater Fishing.

I try to offer everything that anyone could ever think to want to learn about. I hire acclaimed authors, educators, nationally known speakers, musicians, educators and performers as well as award-winning artists, reputable wellness practitioners and a wide variety of experts in their field. Our area is a goldmine of the best and the brightest and we’re thrilled that they lend their talents to The Longboat Key Education Center. So many of our students are very appreciative of all the offerings and come back year after year to see what new courses and programs they can enjoy. Many people say they come to Longboat Key every season because of The Longboat Key Education Center. Our tagline, “Like College Only Better” holds true for them!  The school is non-credit, has no pre-requisites and provides a plethora of programs to enjoy. All you need is a desire to learn. The school is open from October through April. On a final note I would like to thank the community and its residents for supporting us throughout the years! We had over 5,500 registrations this season. We broke all records.  We are so fortunate to be celebrating 30 years and still going strong!

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