Thursday, June 21, 2018
Education

Pasco-Hernando's Encore Academy provides educational opportunities for adults older than 50

For retired and empty-nest residents who have time on their hands and a continuing desire to learn, Pasco-Hernando Community College has something to offer.

It's called the Encore Academy, and fall classes are under way.

"We've raised the kids, done our work. Now's the time to do something for yourself. Reinvent yourself," academy manager Debra Duncan recently told a group seeking more information about the program.

The listeners smiled.

In the conference room at the college's Spring Hill campus, Duncan noted that the academy, launched in 1999 as the Senior Citizen Academy, has broadened its offerings, serving adults 50 and older and promoting lifelong learning.

"A lot of people still don't know we're here," she said.

Clara Oines knows. The 85-year-old Hudson resident who earned a college degree in 1948, has been enrolled in the academy's personal enrichment courses and workshops for three years.

Like many, she first came for a computer class and, pleased with the results, continued with advanced keyboard offerings. Then she added "anything that comes up about government or politics" and creative writing. This semester, Oines will audit a college course in macroeconomics.

Duncan said the most popular academy offerings include courses on computers, digital photography, creative writing and artistic design, including drawing, along with painting in watercolors, acrylics and oils.

Also available are such pursuits as calligraphy, genealogy, laughter for health and tai chi.

Personal enrichment courses, which include multiple sessions, cost $70 each, but with academy membership, they cost $8 each. Workshops generally cost $6 an hour.

Duncan said a membership — $99 per semester or $125 per college year, without a credit class; $125 per semester or $175 per year, with a credit class — often makes economic sense because enrolling in one course sometimes will tempt a student to enroll in more. Memberships include multiple workshop and class offerings for students.

Jack Light of New Port Richey is a case in point.

The 65-year-old, who holds bachelor's and master's degrees in philosophy, attended the information session to learn about sharpening his computer skills but "some of the other things piqued my interest."

Lecturers briefed potential students about the workshops and courses they offer in writing, computers, economics, philosophy and elder health.

Said Oines, an academy veteran: "I'm impressed by the quality of educators."

Beth Gray can be reached at [email protected]

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