Lifelong Learning With Friends

Welcome to

Lifelong Learning With Friends

It is our pleasure to introduce Lifelong Learning With Friends, the newest iteration of what was previously known as Informal Classes for Adults With IDD at the University of Texas at Austin. 

Lifelong Learning With Friends will provide the same excellence that students and families have come to expect and shares its predecessor’s mission: to provide adult learners with intellectual and developmental disabilities access to stimulating, diverse and fun post-secondary opportunities. Reverse inclusion is still at the program’s core meaning that neurotypical college-age students will learn and have fun alongside their neurodiverse peers. To protect the health and safety of our students and staff, Spring semester classes will be held entirely online, allowing our courses to be open to individuals across the entire country for the first time. This unique opportunity to make long-term friends with students near and far is an exciting one! In addition to widening access to courses, Lifelong Learning With Friends will be expanding the number of courses offered each semester by over double what was previously available through the University of Texas, guaranteeing there’s a course (or three!) to fit every student’s area of interest.

The skills obtained through the Lifelong Learning with Friends courses represent building blocks for future higher education and employment opportunities. Social skills and professionalism are built into the curriculum and expectations of every class regardless of subject matter. These attributes are crucial to acquiring and maintaining a job. Students will learn how to follow multi-step directions, be accountable for their work, take direction, self-advocate and how to express themselves in a professional manner. The ability to communicate with a variety of people is an essential tool for employability across fields. LLWF gives students the opportunity to hone and practice these skills that they will carry with them long after the course concludes. 

Watch the video to learn more about Lifelong Learning With Friends

Spring 2021 Schedule: Courses, Instructors, Dates, and Times
(Central Standard Time)

Contact Us

Please do not hesitate to reach out to with any questions and concerns. Thank you for sharing your enthusiasm for elevated and continual learning for all with us! We are excited to meet all of you soon!

Spring 2021 Courses

All Classes are
Central Standard Time

History of Rock and Roll: Mondays, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., March 15 – April 19, 2021
So you love rock & roll? This class will put your expertise to the test. Through listening, discussion, music and film, students will explore the history of rock & roll. The course begins with an overview of ancestors and influences: blues, boogie-woogie, jazz, swing, country and western, gospel and popular music. Students will then dissect the crossover success of rhythm and blues acts that marked the true birth of rock & roll. Everyone is sure to learn something new and HAVE FUN!
Instructor: Erik Seaholm
Click here to enroll

A Healthy Relationship is a Happy Relationship, Tuesdays, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.,
March 16 – April 20, 2021

A relationship can mean many things: it can be how we get along with our family, how we communicate with the people at work, how we build new friendships and keep in touch with longtime pals, or it can be how we navigate romantic partnerships. This course will look at all of these types of relationships and help participants foster healthy communication and boundaries. The class will dissect film clips, play games, role play and beyond to strengthen their ability to cultivate and maintain happy, safe relationships!
Instructor: Lucy Gross
Click here to enroll

Fun with Art in Music, Wednesdays, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., March 17 – April 21, 2021
Art and music go together like peanut butter and jelly. In our class we will examine how music inspires artists and their art. Students will explore various music genres, album art, and music videos. After each class, students will create their own artwork inspired by the music of the class period. Family and friends will meet our last class to see the gallery of student made music inspired art. So dust off your favorite albums and join us for music and art filled experiences! Please note: The instructor will request that you prepare art materials before each class to complete your projects. 
Instructor: Judith LeBlanc
Click here to enroll

Fun with Science: Crime Scene Investigations, Thursdays, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.,
March 18 – April 22, 2021

Are you a true crime junkie? Have you ever wondered how professionals are able to track down criminals just from a few items and details from a crime scene? Come explore the basics of crime scene investigation by learning about different evidence collection techniques and looking inside the minds of famous movie super villains and real criminals. Students will engage in fun and hands-on activities, such as learning how to finger-print lift, identify blood splatter patterns, and other exciting techniques used by real forensic experts.
Instructor: Kaelin Rubenzer
Click here to enroll

Escapade through Asia, Sundays, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., March 21 – April 25, 2021
Do you love watching travel shows about exotic foreign countries? Are you a foodie that loves learning and trying Asian food like pho, dumplings, and curry? Want to learn more about the cultural practices of your neighbors and friends? Come learn about the rich history, unique holidays, and delicious traditional dishes of famous Southeast Asian countries, like Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, and more! Students will learn about perhaps unfamiliar cultural norms surrounding traditional medicine, music, religion, and family practices. Guest speakers will share their unique experiences and upbringings so we can all compare and appreciate our cultural similarities and differences. Students will also be encouraged to actively seek out or try authentic Southeast Asian stores and restaurants in their surrounding community, as well as share traditional, beginner-friendly recipes each week to try at home with family and friends.
Instructor: Kaelin Rubenzer
Click here to enroll  

Music Appreciation: Broadway Musicals Raving Review,
Mondays, 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., April 26 – May 31, 2021 – SECTION 1
Do you just love the sights and sound of a great Broadway musical? Do you want to learn to be a Broadway musical critic? We will review several famous Broadway musicals that include elements such as fairytale, love, tragedy, humor, historical fiction, and more. In this course, you will get to give a Thumbs Up Review or a Thumbs Down Review for each musical we review. This course will include interactive discussions with your classmates and UT student volunteers, engaging activities, and meaningful homework assignments. Our last class will have each student present five of their own original reviews.
Instructor: Joshua Levy
Click here to enroll

Music Appreciation: Broadway Musicals Raving Review,
Wednesdays, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., April 28 – June 2, 2021 – SECTION 2

Do you just love the sights and sound of a great Broadway musical? Do you want to learn to be a Broadway musical critic? We will review several famous Broadway musicals that include elements such as fairytale, love, tragedy, humor, historical fiction, and more. In this course, you will get to give a Thumbs Up Review or a Thumbs Down Review for each musical we review. This course will include interactive discussions with your classmates and UT student volunteers, engaging activities, and meaningful homework assignments. Our last class will have each student present five of their own original reviews. 
Instructor: Joshua Levy
Click here to enroll

Fun with Animals: Dogs!, Tuesdays, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., April 27 – June 1, 2021
Did you know that there are over 350 recognized breeds of dogs in the world? Have you ever wondered why dachshunds have short legs and bulldogs have flat, wrinkled faces? From hunting to herding to therapy, dogs have been our partners and companions for thousands of years. This class will dive into our relationship with our furry canine friends. We’ll explore the roles dogs have played in human lives since ancient times and discover all the amazing jobs that working dogs do both past and present. We’ll watch canine competitors perform impressive feats in a variety of doggy sports and peek behind the scenes at a fancy dog show. Throughout the course, you’ll have a chance to share and discuss your own favorite pooch-related topics with fellow dog lovers.
Instructor: Susan Rozmiarek
Click here to enroll

All About Sports: The FUNdamentals of Football, Tuesdays, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.,
April 27 – June 1, 2021

Have you wondered “what’s the big deal about football”? People get together to watch it, and have favorite teams, but what’s so great about it? Or maybe you enjoy watching games with friends, but would like to know more about the game. Come and learn about the history, rules, and big events so that social gatherings around football games are much more fun! We will touch on important people, interesting facts, and note-worthy games to up your football trivia knowledge as well.
Instructor: Stephanie Kolaczkowski
Click here to enroll

Fun with Science: The Wonders of Space, Wednesdays, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.,
April 28 – June 2, 2021

Are you curious about what is beyond Earth’s atmosphere? Have you ever wondered what exists in the universe? Come on a journey with me through the sky and learn about galaxies near and far. Become an astronomer that studies the cosmos and learns about planets, stars, black holes, and everything that creates solar systems. Through engaging hands-on activities and virtual lessons, students will learn all about outer space. 
Instructor: Lisa Sigafoos
Click here to enroll

Fun with Science: All About Viruses, Thursdays, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., April 29 – June 3, 2021 – THIS CLASS IS CANCELED FOR SPRING 2021
Have you been scratching your head wondering what’s the big deal about the Covid-19 pandemic? Want to learn about what viruses look like, how viruses act in our bodies, and the different kinds of viruses that have changed the course of humanity throughout hundreds of years? Come join our online course that’s all about viruses! Students will complete hands-on coloring sheets and creative activities modeling the structure of different viruses, watch fun and informative videos about past historical pandemics, and learn about current research in vaccines and how they work. Students will also have the opportunity to engage with current professional researchers in the field of infectious disease and public health through remote guest speaker appearances throughout the course.
Instructor: Kaelin Rubenzer

History and Hollywood: Separating Fact From Fiction, Sundays, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., May 2 – June 6, 2021
Do you enjoy history and movies? Then join us at the Fun with History: Hollywood and History: Facts vs Fiction course where we will study popular movies such as the Alamo and the Titanic, and how accurately those films represented actual historical incidents.  For each class we will watch sections of one of those movies and afterwards we will discuss what really happened. We will also enjoy photos of relics that are known to be from the events shown in the films. The class will be informative and fun. Students are encouraged to enjoy popcorn, or another snack of their choosing, during the movie watching.
Instructor: Lori Duran
Click here to enroll

Spring 2021 Instructors

Lucy Gross, Program Director for Lifelong Learning With Friends, is a practicing social worker with over eleven years of experience working with adults with disabilities. She co-founded SAGE Studio, a studio and gallery for Texas-based artists with intellectual and developmental disabilities in Austin. She currently works at AISD’s Go Project, a transitional program for special education students ages 18–22, and as the Program Director for Lifelong Learning With Friends. She earned her undergraduate degree at Emerson College and her master’s of social work at Texas State University.

Kaelin Rubenzer, Program Coordinator for Lifelong Learning With Friends, is a recent graduate from the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience and has worked with adults with disabilities in vocational and educational settings for over five years. After volunteering more than any other volunteer in the program, Kaelin began teaching courses ranging from Global Cultures Culinary Arts to Adaptive Outdoor Activities. Kaelin loves to cook, garden, listen to true crime and science podcasts, go car-camping, and learn a new crafting hobby every month.

Erik Seaholm is currently a lead instructor at the AISD Go Project. He has also taught classes at St. Edwards university as an adjunct professor. Besides teaching, Mr. Seaholm is an avid LP vinyl collector and loves music. 

Joshua Levy has been teaching individuals with disabilities for over 30 years. He is the Founder and Executive Director for Joshua’s Stage, an enrichment program for individuals with a wide range of special needs featuring after-school programs, camps, and workshops through activities in the performing arts. He is the President of Joshua Levy Educational Consulting; facilitating parents, educators, and children’s museums to strengthen their relationships with individuals with disabilities. He is the author of The Creative Outlet Method: At-Home Activities for Children with Special Needs. Joshua enjoys cooking, running, spending time with family, and dog time. 

Judith LeBlanc has a Masters in Special Education and has worked with students with disabilities for over 10 years. She lives in Austin with her three wild dogs and one stinky cat. She is inspired by all types of art and design. If she could invite anyone to a dinner party, Andy Warhol would be on the top of her list.

Lisa Sigafoos is an assistant professor of practice in the department of special education at the University of Texas. She helps train future special education teachers and teaches undergraduate students about disabilities. Lisa has a passion for working with adults with disabilities. She is the faculty advisor of Best Buddies at UT, works collaboratively with Special Olympics of Texas, and partner’s with UT’s E4Texas certification program. Lisa also loves science and is fascinated with all things space. She is happily married with three adorable little ones- Roczen, Rennix, and Kinzlyn and two pit-bull fur babies.

Susan Rozmiarek has been teaching evening classes for adults with IDDs for five years. While not teaching or at her day job in a neuroscience research lab at the University of Texas, she can be found enjoying one of her many hobbies. These include hiking, gardening, vegetarian cooking and playing board and computer games.

Stephanie Kolaczkowski has lived in Austin since August 2004. She graduated from The University of Texas in 2008 with a B.S. in Kinesiology and a minor in Education. In August 2010, Stephanie started a career teaching adapted physical education and coaching Special Olympics swimming, basketball, and cycling in Round Rock ISD. A career highlight for her was getting to coach the Team Texas swim team at the 2018 National Games in Seattle, Washington! She is very passionate about working with, and for, individuals with disabilities because her family is very diverse with people with all kinds of abilities. In her spare time, Stephanie enjoys camping, hiking, swimming, and getting outdoors with her best bud Bentley, a 13 year old doggo!

Lori Duran loves history and the joy of a good story. She has a Bachelors in History and a Masters in Latin American Studies and Business Admin from UT Austin. She captures history with photos and tales in her work including her new book “The University of Texas at Austin: The First One Hundred Years”. She is also a proud mother of an adult with autism and has brought history alive for adults with IDDs over years with our program.

Jon Pierce is the father of an adult with Down syndrome. He obtained his PhD at the Univ of Oregon followed by a postdoc at UCSF Medical School. He conducts research on Down syndrome, autism, Alzheimer’s disease, and more as Associate Professor at the Univ Texas at Austin. He founded Lifelong Learning With Friends and its predecessor programs so that adults with IDDs could access the sophisticated learning and deep friendships unique to the college experience. Over the past decade, he offered over 120 unique courses to hundreds of adults with IDDs to learn alongside college student volunteers. 

%d bloggers like this: