A Lifelong Learner in a Retirement Community
By Christy Brudin
At an early age, Betty McGee showed an aptitude for academics. She won the first of several scholarships while still in her teens. Today, her pursuit of education continues unabated. A true lifelong learner, Betty is a great example of the importance — and impact — of education.
Whether she is in pottery, painting or music classes or attending a lecture, Betty can often be found at the Center for Lifelong Learning at Chandler Hall, the retirement community in Newtown, Pa., where she lives. Since moving to the community, she has made the most of all the educational and entertainment opportunities that are available to residents.
“I participate in most everything,” Betty said. “I go to chorus; I go to exercise class; I enjoy the bus trips; and I’ve made so many things in art class.”
Betty’s full schedule also includes concerts, plays, religious services and activities at the onsite intergenerational day care. At the day care, she often reads to the children, an activity that is virtually second nature to this mother of five and career educator.
A long-time Philadelphia resident, Betty’s career in education began with a scholarship to a nearby private high school. She later won a scholarship to Chestnut Hill College. After graduating, she began a decades long career as a fourth grade teacher.
“It was a great experience to teach fourth grade all those years,” she said. “I just loved the children.”
While teaching, Betty continued to pursue her own education. The school where she taught was only three blocks from Temple University, so she found time in her increasingly full schedule to obtain a Master’s degree in education.
After her retirement, Betty continued to live in Philadelphia. However, when her doctor informed her that it was no longer safe for her to drive or live alone, she knew it was time to make a change.
Betty moved in with one of her daughters who lived in nearby Bucks County, Pa. Her daughter started looking for retirement living options near her home and was immediately impressed with Chandler Hall.
After moving in, Betty met all her neighbors and made friends quickly, thanks in part to the community’s intimate dining atmosphere. Rather than a large dining room, the Chandler Hall campus features smaller dining rooms in each of its four houses—all of which contain 24 apartments.
“Everybody is very friendly, and I always have someone to have dinner with,” Betty said. In addition to delicious dinners filled with engaging conversation, Betty also enjoys her apartment at Chandler Hall filled with a mix of old and new treasures. “I have the most beautiful apartment here, I think,” she said. “Everything feels so cozy because I have some of my pieces from home.”
Of course, the many opportunities for learning are Betty’s favorite amenity in her new community. “I thank God I can still walk and talk and get by,” she said. “I am enjoying every minute and taking full advantage of all the activities that Chandler Hall has to offer. This is a great place to be in retirement.”
With an insatiable curiosity and a true love of learning, Betty is an inspiration to both her former students and her current peers. They all agree that this lifelong learner is not just getting by—she’s excelling.