Academy for Lifelong Learning Celebrates Its 10th Anniversary   Leave a comment

ALL 10th Anniversary Celebration — Image by Barbara Holland

This past weekend, the Academy for Lifelong Learning (ALL) at Lone Star College – Montgomery celebrated the 10th Anniversary. ALL is a member-driven organization and was the first in the Houston area, only the second in the state.  Since its beginning, the College has provided the environment and non-profit framework to help facilitate the administration and operation.  It was then, and continues to be a part of a growing movement in adult education in which active adults take responsibility for their own learning opportunities.

ALL has always seen the curriculum covering a broad range of instruction that reflects the observation that our world changes quickly, making it increasingly difficult for older adults to keep up with new developments and to understand the implications.  Part of the recruitment process for ALL has been to market the organization that can help older adults better understand and capitalize on the changes shaping our world.  Therefore, to some degree the ALL acts as a catalyst of ideas and programs that provides the older adult community with direction and connection.

For several years the literature has documented that we are in the midst of a demographic revolution, which includes the growth of the older adult population that is redefining of the “golden years.”  The demographic changes on the aging of America are not new, but the needs and interest of the aging population is.  It is about a better-educated population that is still seeking purpose and productivity.

This changing notion of the aging population offers organizational opportunities to play the “experience” card.  Many communities see this as an opportunity to develop new approaches to help adults in the transition into a new life chapter.  Such approaches focus on identifying ways to provide opportunities for older adults to continue making contributions to their communities.  It’s all about transitions not driven by age, but by what people choose to do and accomplish in this new phase of their life.  This phase is one not viewed as a final phase, but as one that allows for continued growth, development and productivity.

From it’s very beginning, ALL’s program philosophy has been molded by the community, starting with a “focus” group in June, 1999, of eight people: Warren Butler, Jack Crumpler, A.G. Pep Pepperone, Joel L. Reed, Nancy Aldrich, Joe Airola, Bonnie Wilkerson and Adora Kutchin. (College representatives were Connie Thomas and Kenne Turner. Jill Hickman was the group’s facilitator.) After two brainstorming sessions, the focus group was expanded to 27 attendees, to include: Carol Carpenter, Larry Carpenter, Don Crouch, Pat Crowder, Joel Deretchin, Gretchen Faulkner, Willard Fischer, Ann Friend, Barbara Holland, Jim Hunt, Martha Jordan, Joe Kutchin, Margaret Moorehead, Jack Raines, Steve Scheffler and Ann Soop. Most of this group became the ALL Steering Committee with Joe Airola as its chair. In October, Sandy Ridgeway began working as ALL program coordinator.

With classes schedule to begin in January 2000, the Steering Committee held a communitywide information session and dessert reception in November. The reception was an overwhelming success with over 250 area residents in attendance.

The first official ALL class was “Shakespeare’s Othello” on January 11, 2000, followed by 64 course offerings in addition to Gary Brown’s Monday afternoon film series beginning in March.

Over the years, ALL has become one of the largest programs of its kind in the country and continues to be one of the most successful programs at Lone Star College – Montgomery. Congratulations on the success of the 10th Anniversary Celebration. May it serve as a stepping-stone to continued program improvement in adult education in which active adults take responsibility for their own learning opportunities.


P.S.  Click here ALL PRESENTATION I to download a PowerPoint presentation prepared in the early days of ALL.

(The “Montgomery College Implements Initiative for Older, Active Adult Education” article appeared in the February, 2000 issue of “The Woodlands Hometown News.”)

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