Delving into a subject area teaches you so much about that topic, but even more about yourself. Simply making that choice clarifies your priorities and defines what you value in life.
It doesn’t matter how old you are or whether you’re looking for a career that will keep you financially stable or a hobby or practice to keep you emotionally stable. Digging deeply helps you build new connections within your brain, with the people around you, and in a world that provides more questions than answers — that’s one of the best things about it.
If you want to specialize in something, whether it’s for personal growth or personal gain, you can study it in Pinal County. Virtual classes pick up the slack for what we can’t find locally but there are numerous places where you can get face-to-face, hands-on instruction in professions, hobbies, crafts, sports and so much more.
Desert Sun Performing Arts Studio
Going on 15 years now, Desert Sun Performing Arts Studio has been teaching ballet, tap, jazz, lyrical, contemporary, hip hop, pointe, special needs dance, acro dance, and preschool classes for ages 2-18.
Head instructor and owner Ceylan Gentilella has a background in a variety of dance methods. Several of the teachers are also members of Dance of America, with decades of experience in multiple genres.
Gentilella says in addition to the physical benefits, dance bolsters self-confidence, releases anxiety, and is a great way for the children to express themselves.
“I often have parents that tell me their children used to be shy and really came out of their shell through dance or dancers that say dance is their escape,” Gentilella says.
After the anxieties and pressure of school or daily life, Gentilella says there is also an emotional aspect that positively affects young dancers.
“On an emotional level, I think that dance can mean any number of things to a person based on what is happening in their life right now,” Gentilella says.
19756 N John Wayne Pkwy,
Maricopa, AZ 85139
Sunrise ATA Taekwondo
Master Lee Feiles began his training in taekwondo in 1985, earning his ATA Black Belt in 1990. He took over the ATA Studio in 2010. The instructors are all black belts under his direction with three to seven years of experience. While the studio offers seminars on self-defense for all ages, the core focus is youth development, not just the physical aspect, but also mental and emotional responses in real-world situations.
“Taekwondo strives to provide a balanced approach to personal development,” says Feiles. “The exercises, of course, can help with cardiovascular health, strength conditioning, weight management, and muscle tone. For athletic performance, the training develops balance, speed, coordination, power reaction time, and rhythm. The training is guided by each student’s needs, so those with specific physical challenges can feel comfortable working to their strengths. For most, however, the physical skills to defend themselves from threat or attack is a high priority, which is a unique benefit of martial arts training.”
Feiles says the training helps with focus and concentration. He says students who fall within the autism spectrum have seen “great achievement.”
44400 Honeycutt Rd #103,
Maricopa, AZ 85138
Divine Art Institute
In 2014 Nichole Kluth, wife and mother of four, had a moment where she stumbled onto a new direction in life.
“I had called and scheduled one of those private paint parties for my mom’s birthday, anticipating just another craft-type affair,” says Kluth. “Little did I know, on this night as I smelled oil paint for the first time, it would birth a dream that would only lend itself to dreaming bigger, gifting me with abundant passion, divine purpose and a clear vision.”
From that moment, Kluth began her professional life as an artist. In 2020 she opened the Divine Art Institute. “My goals were to create a space to teach both drawing and painting to every age level and every experience level,” says Kluth.
The studio offers workshops for those who want to give a class a try and a weekly proficiency program for those that want to study further, classes specifically being for students from age 8 up to adult.
509 E Florence Blvd,
Casa Grande, AZ 8512
CAC Heavy Equipment Operators Program
If you have ever been driving on a side road through the county, good chances are you have been in a situation where you are following a tractor working off a farm or moving to the next construction area. It is a great possibility the operator attended Central Arizona College’s Heavy Equipment Operators Program that has been in existence since 1970.
Through the program, students learn the basic fundamentals of operating all types of heavy equipment which include backhoes, dozers, front-end loaders, large and small excavators, motor graders, skip loaders, skid steers, scrapers, water trucks, and dump trucks.
Students will also learn basic repair practices of heavy equipment and survey and grade staking methods. Degree-seeking students will obtain 400 to 500 hours of operating seat time over the course of two years as well as their industry-recognized National Center for Construction Education and Research (NCCER) levels of completion certificates and ID cards.
The head instructor for the program is Louis Teel. Teel is CAC alumni, graduating in 2000, and began instructing in 2008.
8470 N. Overfield Rd.
Coolidge, AZ 85128
Central Arizona College Culinary Program
The restaurant industry is always looking for career-minded individuals who enjoy the rush of the kitchen and a love for creating unforgettable dishes. Central Arizona College’s culinary program is teaching both basic and advanced skills for the restaurant industry.
Whether it is as a line cook, chef, or entry-level management, students are prepared to enter the workforce with a combination of hands-on training and lecture classes.
Instructors include Chef Clay Peden and Chef Arthur Acedo. The former has been part of the CAC faculty since 2014 with 17 years in the culinary industry. Acedo has over three decades of culinary industry experience and teaching.
The program was started in 1998 and was first taught by Professor Gayle Haro at Casa Grande Union High School. With recent demands in the industry and Arizona being a top tourist destination, the program is building an extensive partnership with Harrah’s Ak-Chin Hotel and Casino.
8470 N. Overfield Rd.
Coolidge, AZ 85128
Maricopa Agricultural Center
The Maricopa Agricultural Center is located on the northeast side of the City of Maricopa and is an extension and teaching resource center for the College of Agriculture at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Since it is located within city limits, residents often joke that alien research is being performed because the property is restricted. It is, however, a 2,100-acre farm where experiments are being held.
Maricopa’s history of farming has helped form a unique partnership, as local farmers are part of an advisory committee and a management resource. The focus is on cotton, small grains, alfalfa, and experimental crops that could be used for fibers, oils, pharmaceuticals, and more. Projects also include innovative farming techniques ranging from irrigation methods and soil and crop fertility to pest and weed management.
Currently, Covid restrictions have canceled tours and events that are usually big draws as visitors of all ages can check out the facilities and see the entomology display.
37860 W. Smith-Enke Rd.,
Maricopa, AZ 85138