The Mt. Airy Learning Tree has built a business on neighbors teaching neighbors

The Mt. Airy Learning Tree fall semester is about to get underway. This year marks MALT’s 30th year of “neighbors teaching neighbors.”


Last week MALT held a pre-semester gathering for its teachers at a home on the 6800 block of Quincy Street in Mt. Airy.


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And in talking to the teachers it quickly became apparent that one reason for the community education program’s growth since it began with just a dozen or so courses ( it now offers almost three hundred classes each term, taught by more than 200 teachers) was the MALT experience they had – not as teachers, but first as students.

Tamika Colvin, for example, decided to take a MALT class, which inspired her to offer her own in hair-braiding and hair cutting. “I wound up loving it,” she said.

Andre Sellers, a retired language teacher at who had taught at Northeast High School in Philadelphia, went the same route and now has been teaching Spanish for MALT for five years. “It’s great. The students are eager – it’s not like teaching high school,” he joked.

And Jeanne Rand, a Fort Washington resident, was introduced to MALT through its Hidden Gardens Tour of spectacular Northwest private gardens. “I just fell in love with it,” she said. Now she volunteers for the organization.


Teach what you know

New teachers with new classes are always welcome, said Jonna Naylor, who’s been the organization’s executive director since 2000. There are about 40 new teachers for the fall, 2011 term, she said. “If you’ve got an idea for a class, call us or go to our website and click on the ‘Want to Teach?’ link or come by our office.”

To get an idea of what people teach here’s a sampling for some of the upcoming classes:

Digital Cameras 101

Facebook 101

Halloween Mask-Making Workshop

How to Coupon

Learn to Ride a Segway 

Medicare in 2012

Super Cool Freebies from the Internet


Fundraising for a permanent home

That office, at 6333 Greene Street, is the subject of MALT’s “Make This Our Home” campaign, which began two years ago. It’s a drive to raise sufficient funds- about $230,000 – for MALT to purchase the building. And it’s making progress.

“We’ve raised about $175,000 so far,” said Naylor. “For our next big fundraiser, on October 22 we’re going to have a concert from 1-6 p.m. It’ll feature the Little Big Thing Band and the Road Show Relics.” Tickets are $45 each, with a limit of $100 per family – “no matter how big your family is,” said Naylor.

That will be followed in March by the third “MALT Ball” dance and get-together at the Commodore Barry Club, 6815 Emlen Street.  

Fall term classes are being offered now through December.

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