Varied Interests Lead to Lifelong Learning in Retirement

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active adults in retirementVibrant, friendly, inviting, engaging, welcoming, educated, creative, solution-oriented, open-minded, forever young, volunteers-these are some of the words that describe Arlene and Les Caplan. They are two of the long-term members of the Auburn Society, the Learning in Retirement program of Towson University. In addition to lifelong learning at Auburn, they are interested in ballet, music, art, sports, photography, and travel.

Les and Arlene discovered the Auburn Society through a Towson University flyer about six years ago, shortly after the program began. Their respective academic backgrounds may have attracted them to lifelong learning in retirement. After trying classes at a local community college, they were looking for something different. Arlene and Les felt that students at the community college got lost in the large and impersonal classes.

Towson’s learning in Retirement program has 300 members. Class sizes are relatively small, so that members have a chance to get to know one another. Under the direction of Jacqueline Gratz, Director and Curriculum Chair of the Auburn Society, members devise and oversee the curriculum and recruit faculty.

Instructors include members with academic and/or specialty credentials, as well as local celebs, such as Jonathan Palevsky and Lou Cedrone. For eight weeks each spring and fall, members are invited to participate in one or more of the courses that are offered each Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday. The wonderful thing about the Auburn Society courses is that there is no homework!

Arlene is a former teacher turned social worker. She currently serves as the Society’s social and hospitality chairwoman, a position that fits her self-described “Jewish Mother” traits very well. She has expanded the Society’s social offerings beyond the daily “before and after” class refreshments. Offerings now include luncheons at a local restaurant and pot luck dinners at members’ homes. These activities encourage members to become friends, rather than just fellow students.

Les’ friends say that he is a poor role model for a retiree. At 82, he is still working as a consultant to the University of Alabama at Birmingham, School of Optometry where he is a Professor Emeritus. He also serves as Senior Consultant to the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry.

Les is an occasional instructor at the Society, often in subjects that hold an interest for him, such as humor. Les also brought the Society into the 21st Century by facilitating the purchase of state-of-the-art equipment and instrumentation. In addition to being the resident “techie,” he is the group historian / photographer.

Arlene and Les invite everyone age 50 or older to come take a look at Towson’s Auburn Society program. The Society’s educational opportunities are seemingly endless. Subjects range from music to history and from film to literature, with a variety of options in between.

For more information abut the Auburn Society, visit their website at Article written by Diane Schaefer, a Geriatric Care Manager with Schaefer + Associates

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