What started as teaching preschool students basic computer skills has morphed into a second business for Paige Parker.
Ms. Parker, 30, started e-piphany out of her home nearly three years ago, and on June 27, she opened Epiphany Learning Hub in The Market shopping center. She and several other teachers offer a variety of classes, including computer, photography, 3-D printing, crocheting, ceramics, furniture design, iPhone repair, guitar, salsa and swing dance.
"It all happened very fast," Ms. Parker said. "It went from, ‘I'm going to open this little thing,' to poof, we're going to have 3-D printers and salsa dancing" classes.
She has had more than 50 teachers of various skills and crafts contact her, interested in teaching others their passions.
"It's people who love what they do," she said.
When she was 17, Ms. Parker began teaching computer classes to pre-school students out of her father's business, Mouse Club. She taught at several Tyler daycares and helped develop and open franchises for her father, Grady Parker, in Dallas and Houston before starting her own company in Tyler.
Ms. Parker originally wanted to become a nurse or go into forensics. She earned a degree of arts and applied science from The University of Texas at Tyler. She worked in banking and in sales for home health and hospice companies before helping her dad develop franchises, which included writing curriculum for the computer classes.
Ms. Parker said she always has been more business-minded than a teacher, but after 13 years, she has been able to turn teaching into a science.
Through e-piphany, she teaches basic computer skills to kids ages 2 to 5 so they will be able to acclimate better when they start school. Ms. Parker and two other teachers instruct preschool computer classes to 17 privately owned schools and daycares in Tyler, Whitehouse, Lindale and Longview.
She said classes in both businesses have hands-on portions of learning and all correction is done in a positive way.
"Instead of telling a kid ‘Don't run,' we say ‘Walk,'" she said.
Ms. Parker wants to create a positive learning environment, encourage students to learn and build their confidence.
Teachers at Epiphany Learning Hub have other jobs but love to share their passions with others wanting to learn. Classes are offered nearly every day of the week, and new classes are continually added.
"Rather than have some stark, boring learning environment, we're really trying to make learning fun," Ms. Parker said. "We put a lot of heart into all of these things."
Lloyd Luthas, 27, of Dallas, teaches a four-hour photography class at Epiphany Learning Hub every Sunday. He graduated from Whitehouse High School and lived in Tyler for 11 years before moving to Dallas to work for a production company and an advertising company. He is a house and product photographer, assistant editor, camera operator, graphic designer/editor and a freelance photographer.
Luthas has been working with Ms. Parker for a few years, teaching basic photography and cinematography classes to her preschool students. When she opened Epiphany Learning Hub, he decided to teach adult photography classes.
There are four fast-paced classes each month, which start with the basics and progress. Luthas said it is a good class for beginners to learn their cameras and how to take photos, as well as photographers who want to learn more and be challenged by new concepts.
Luthas said he loves photography because it allows him to express himself in a single image. It is a simplistic and minimalistic art that inspires people at a very basic level and teaching it inspires him to do better with his work, he said.
Ms. Parker teaches computer classes for kids, which include everything from basic skills to learning the fundamentals of coding. She also teaches Quick Book computer classes for business owners.
Two years ago, she was teaching computer classes for senior citizens, who were all on very different skill levels. One of her regular students, who had trouble with his short-term memory, had been paying high hourly rates to learn and relearn how to email and other simple tasks. He was one of the reasons why she decided to open a regular computer lab at Epiphany Learning Hub, where they could come get help whenever they needed it for a low monthly rate.
Kid's camps this summer include paper dress making and robotics, where kids learn to make princess dresses out of tissue and other paper from Aug. 4 to 8, and learn how to make solar-powered robots Aug. 11 to 15.
During the summer, Ms. Parker's 13-year-old daughter, Kirsten, has been helping out with the new business. She helps with the senior's computer lab and with the children. Ms. Parker said she even knows how to do Quick Books.
"I love having her help," Ms. Parker said. "She's been really supportive, too."
Kirsten said she likes helping with the children the most.
"Who doesn't love kids?" she asked.
Ms. Parker and a friend, Heather Whitaker, brainstormed for a week about what to name her first business.
"I was known for calling her and saying, ‘Guess what? I had an epiphany!'
"Epiphany is a word that describes an ‘ah-ha' moment, and also a word I use quite often. I live for ah-ha moments, and I think the word ‘epiphany' encompasses the elements I love most about learning — it's fun and liberating to discover new things and grow."