Everyday is a Learning Opportunity: Continuing Care Communities

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elder female in a ccrcWhere does the love of learning begin? Often it begins in the earliest days when we are young and curious-and the joy stays with us for a lifetime. That is certainly the case for Lita Henck. From her earliest years she loved books. Her role models were teachers, librarians, and her mother, who assured that she attended schools that challenged her.

In her career, Lita has been a kindergarten teacher and a high school English teacher who instilled a love of words and literature in her students. With a Master of Liberal Arts, she used her Hopkins’ degree to help science teachers educate their students in the art of writing. After earning a Master’s in Library Science, she became a high school librarian. Later, she served as an Adjunct Professor at McDaniel College and then at Western Maryland College. Since retirement, she has continued serving her church of 45 years as a Council member, Church Librarian, and spiritual growth group leader.

Lita and her husband, Earl, attended the Baltimore Council on Foreign Affairs to hear distinguished speakers, both foreign and domestic, and discuss politics and social issues. Baltimore County’s Senior Box Office has offered opportunities for travel, cultural events, and historic sites.

The couple also enjoys their membership at the Renaissance Institute at Notre Dame. The variety of subjects offered, as well as the social activities and the great friends are delightful. Favorite courses have been “Memory Pictures,” where participants wrote brief glimpses of significant moments in their lives, and “Current Events,” where various speakers from all walks of life shared their expertise.

After conducting research on their target site, the couple frequently sets off on exciting vacations. Lita’s favorite trip was to the United Kingdom-a trip planned by her husband to bring life to her love of literature. They toured the birthplaces and locales of her favorite authors, walking in the footsteps of James Joyce in Dublin, Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth at Dove Cottage, and visiting the moors of Thomas Hardy. They feel fortunate to have experienced modern history in visits to Russia, China, and various parts of Europe.

Lita suggests taking advantage of as many different avenues for lifelong learning as one’s health, stamina, and finances allow. Classes at colleges, senior centers, and churches are readily available. Cultural events and fitness centers also provide unique opportunities to keep your mind and body fit. Lita goes on to recommend traveling abroad whenever possible. Traveling, she points out, teaches us to appreciate other people and their cultures and helps us to recognize that there are many different views concerning world politics and religion.

Everyday becomes a learning opportunity when it is approached with natural curiosity and understanding. Lita knows this well; she continues to fervently explore her community and her world.

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