The learning process doesn't end when one finishes school, it's a life-long process. At Shepherd University, that life- long process has been given a chance to grow with the help of Shepherdstown Area Independent Living, or SAIL for short.
SAIL is a non-profit organization seeking to help the older population of the area with everything from assistance when driving isn't possible or to contining the education of retirees of the area.
SAIL joined with Shepherd University last year to form the Lifelong Learning Program. This program provides opportunities for the maturing population of the area to learn new skills and also engage in discussions of various topics in a classroom setting.
"The Lifelong Learning courses provide a fun and engaging way for retirees to access extended learning and social opportunities. There are no quizzes or tests but perhaps some homework for added exposure to the topic and good discussions," stated Karen Rice, director of the Lifelong Learning program.
The program began in the fall of 2011 with 50 participants.The successful kick-off of the program spurred the planning for this spring's round of courses that start on March 6. Turnout is expected to double for the spring classes.
"We have doubled the number of courses, added a tour to Mount Vernon, Va,, and are offering one-day lectures during lunch allowing people to bring and eat their lunch and hear a topic of interest, " Rice commented. The increase offers a significant expansion from the original pilot program curriculum.
With classes ranging from "Becoming Computer Savvy at a Later Age" "Modern Day Africa: Conflict and Turmoil" there are many options for participants in the program.
This is not a unique program or project undertaken by Shepherd University. Many universities around the country are starting similar programs to help educate and connect the baby boomer generation.
"More than 30 percent of the population in Jefferson and Berkeley counties are 50 or more years old. Being able to offer opportunities for citizens to engage in lifelong learning adds to the enrichment of our community," Rice stated.
These types of programs offer help and support to a generation of movers and shakers who are looking for intellectual stimulation, companionship or just trying to keep up with their children and grandchildren when it comes to the technological world. Shepherd University and SAIL have teamed up to offer a way of reaching out to a part of the community that is sometimes overlooked and help them learn just a little bit more.