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From the Desk of Jerry Jackson

by Jerry Jackson on August 20, 2017

in From the Director's Desk

Dear Folk School family,

It has taken me fifty-plus years, but in May, I experienced my first class at the Folk School. It was well worth the wait! I enrolled in the organic gardening class with Jane Burke, an extremely knowledgeable instructor who filled my mind with new gardening ideas, provided useful growing methods and gave helpful insight into the heart and soul of the Folk School.

Although I was excited about my class selection, I had a secondary reason for taking the class. At the suggestion of the Folk School’s board of directors, I took the class as part of my interview process for the executive director search. Ultimately, this class experience led me to another first-time experience: addressing you now as the “new guy” who hopes to cultivate a relationship with each Folk School family member.

“Cultivation” is a term that’s been part of my life for as long as I can remember. I grew up in North Carolina as the grandson of two farmers who embraced a way of life that mimics the mission of the Folk School. As an arts administrator for the past 20 years, I have cultivated arts organizations to be able to meet the needs of their constituents and to help secure those organizations’ futures. Both forms of cultivation are important to the future success of the Folk School.

During my week in class, I found myself waking early in order to make my way to the garden—my personal entry point into the spirit of the Folk School. After my routine garden inspection, my mornings consisted of coffee in the Keith House, Morning Walk, and Morning Song. Each experience fostered my connection to the Folk School and a growing confidence that leading the school was the new adventure I wanted to experience.

For the majority of you who have explored your creativity through the many offerings at the Folk School, you understand my attraction to the energy and influence of this special place. As a newcomer, I had much to learn, both in the studio and from the overarching influence of the folk school model. At every turn, someone was there to elevate my experience by offering simple directions, sharing their past Folk School experiences, or inquiring how my week was going. By mid-week, I had discovered that my true attraction to the Folk School was clearly the people who bring the studios, dance floors and stages to life. I experienced a profound spirit of community and met like-minded individuals who nurture learning and personal growth on all levels.

Continued growth, either in the garden or for this enduring institution, requires individuals willing to engage and nurture the many needs of the Folk School. I thank you for your past support of this amazing place and know that your continued support will ensure its future. Please remember that support can come in many forms; the easiest is telling a friend about the many rewards of attending a class or event at the Folk School. Your support in any form or at any level is greatly appreciated.

As I dive into this new chapter at the school, I hope our paths will soon cross as I am eager to hear your Folk School story.




Jerry Jackson

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Try Your Hand at Ukulele

by Cory Marie Podielski on August 19, 2017

in Featured Classes, Music & Dance

Join Peter Thomas on September 17-23 and learn how to make your ukulele sing. This introductory class is appropriate for beginners and intermediate alike. Even though the class description says level one, students who already have a little experience are welcome and will certainly have fun and advance their playing skills by taking the class. The class is always great fun.

Enjoy a video of a previous class made by Peter’s teaching assistant Dave Peters – as the class performed “The Brasstown Polka,” an original song by Dave:

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Back to School Class Picks

by Cory Marie Podielski on August 18, 2017

in Featured Classes

As back to school season arrives, the Folk School invites you to embrace the spirit of learning and exploration. View these upcoming fall class picks, and experience the joy of discovering a new craft.

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Welcome Home to the Folk School

by Phil Mattox on August 15, 2017

in Folk School Folks

A student recently suggested we place a sign above the red door to Keith House saying “Welcome Home.” When I asked him what he meant, he explained each time he returns to the Folk School, it feels like coming home. And that is what this place is to many folks— a place where one can come (and return time and again) to thrive and grow.

I was business manager at the Folk School in the early ’90s, and coming home to step into the role as interim director has given me the opportunity to once again be a part of this vibrant place. These past few months have been a humbling experience. The evolution of the school is nothing short of mind-boggling. The physical growth on the campus alone is stunning, with the most recent addition being the new spacious, light-filled Book & Paper Arts Studio.

In my brief time back, I have had the privilege of meeting hundreds of students who travel here from all over, eager to learn, make things with their hands, and have new experiences. Ideas flow freely from teacher to student to teacher—everyone creates something new and is enriched in some way. Our students, instructors, and staff understand the joy of this sort of self-discovery, and the astonishment and self-confidence that accompany the realization that you, too, can make things and be creative. It’s a thing of wonder to witness.

Upon the retirement in March of our long-serving director, Jan Davidson, the Folk School’s board of directors partnered with an executive search firm to conduct a national search for the next director, and reached out to over 200 potential candidates. In June, the board voted unanimously to appoint Jerry Jackson as our new director. As the deputy director of Penland School of Crafts for the past 10 years, Jerry brings extensive experience and knowledge. A community leader who is passionate about the arts, he possesses a great deal of enthusiasm for preserving the traditions of the Folk School and leading us forward to our centennial in 2025.

Please join our Folk School family in welcoming Jerry to his new home this August.



Phil Mattox
Interim Director


French Bal Folk Dance Sampler

by Annie Fain Barralon on August 11, 2017

in Music & Dance

Interested in trying a bit of French Dance? A French Bal Folk Weekend Workshop is coming up Sept. 8-10, 2017 at the Folk School. Nadine Marianelli and Polo Bulguière are coming all the way from France to co-teach and play the music along with Geraud and Annie Fain Barralon.

Join us for a lovely weekend of traditional French dance to fantastic live music by international band, French Ida. The dances will be a sampling from various regions of France, ranging from raucous to rhythmic, from circular in form to partner dances. (You do not need a partner.) Dances will be accessible, and all steps will be taught, but some previous dance experience is helpful. Be prepared for a moderate level of exercise. Free admission to that Saturday’s Community Contra Dance included. French Ida with Robbin L. Marcus calling.

Register for the class on our website.

See French Bal dancing in action during a fun flash mob at a Paris train station:

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