As the new year kicks off and resolutions may (already) need some refreshing, @MC News reached out to Natasha Sacks, program director at Montgomery College’s Lifelong Learning Institute (LLI), for inspiration on personal enrichment programs at MC. The LLI creates and supports various educational opportunities for Montgomery County residents age 50 and over, but adults of any age may register for classes. Students age 60+ pay fees only for qualified courses.
“Come learn and grow!” Sacks urges Montgomery County residents looking for ways to stimulate their minds, meet new people, and move forward in personal and professional goals. “We have something for everyone: art, art history, history/politics, brain fitness, social science, personal finance, cooking/baking, physical fitness, and many programs to learn new professional skills like computer skills, cybersecurity, and social media.”
“We have wellness courses that teach you how to exercise—while having fun. My husband and I took Square Dancing for Fitness and Fun. After the class ended, we all went to Glen Echo Park to a dance. You make mistakes and laugh while you learn. It was so much fun and the participants became friends.”
“The Lifelong Learning Institute offers around 130 course sections per semester on three Montgomery College campuses and the Gaithersburg Business Training Center in the fall, spring, and summer semesters. LLI caters to active seniors and working adults, and course delivery varies: Some courses take place in classrooms, while others are offered online. Some meet once; others are semester-long activities. Most courses are three to six sessions and are offered during the daytime and in the evenings.
Culinary classes, for example, are offered both ways—in class and online. The in-person
pastry making courses take place in the Marriott Hospitality Center at the Rockville
Campus. For the Cook Like a Chef course, offered online, students cook along with
the chef at home step by step. They can interact with the chef and ask questions,
unlike the experience of watching a YouTube video. And, at the end of the session,
they can sit down with their family and eat the meal they learned to prepare.
In her role as program director, Sacks recruits talented enthusiastic, and dedicated instructors who are experts in their field,. Institute instructors are professors, artists, NASA scientists, attorneys, doctors, and investment specialists that bring professional know-how and experience to the material they present.
LLI also partners with other organizations to broaden its reach and provide unique opportunities. For example, Montgomery History, the county’s historical society, facilitates exploring local history. An SEC educator offers a class on investments; and Holy Cross Hospital helped run Memory Academy: Train Your Brain to Retain, a program that originated at the UCLA Center on Aging, to share preventive measures for senior moments.
“This is a nonthreatening way to come learn,” says Sacks. “There is no homework, no grades. …just an enjoyment of learning and growing. And because we have repeat participants, we have the wonderful challenge of constantly creating new classes.”
For students who want to invest more time and diligence, LLI provides access to courses that can be taken for credit or as audit. Course schedules are published three times per year in print and online.