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University of Wind Crest

Residents take, teach college-level courses

Created date

July 26th, 2010

This summer, Joan Grady is helping her neighbors do some digging. The retired educator and school superintendent teaches a genealogy class at Wind Crest as part of the Wind Crest Learners program, which offers residents on-site, collegelevel courses taught by their neighbors. Genealogy has been a hobby of mine for years, says Grady, a member of the Association of Professional Genealogists. I decided I wanted to teach a beginner s course on genealogy because I see a lot of people who start researching their family tree incorrectly, and they end up wasting so much time and energy. Grady, who once lectured about genealogy on cruise ships, has helped countless people find relatives from miles away they never knew they had. I always say to people, as long as your family belonged to an established religion and hasn t moved around a lot, it s a cinch, she says.

Common interests

In addition to teaching, Grady cochairs the Wind Crest Learners Curriculum Committee, a group of six people who live at Wind Crest that determines which classes will be offered, where and when they will be held, and then recruits facilitators to lead the classes. Occasionally, the group invites outside lecturers to speak on specific topics. We do surveys from time to time and ask people what kinds of classes they re interested in, says Grady. Then we search for people here in the community who might be interested in teaching that particular class. Sometimes people come to us and volunteer, and other times we have to twist an arm or two. So far, we have been lucky enough to accommodate most of the requests for class topics we have received. No one has asked for a class in Swahili yet, she jokes.

From opera to the Civil War

To enroll in the Wind Crest Learners program, students pay a $30 annual fee, which allows them to take as many courses as they wish throughout the year. The monies collected go toward buying supplies and teaching aids such as books and DVDs. The school year is divided into three terms: spring, summer, and fall, with each term lasting eight weeks. This summer, seven courses are being offered: Introduction to Opera, Art Appreciation, All About Colorado, the Civil War, U.S. Territories, Great Decisions, and Genealogy. Currently, 84 students are enrolled in the 2010 program. We have so many people here at Wind Crest who are experts on different subjects and have interests in such a wide variety of things that we could virtually have 1,000 different classes, says Grady.

Continuing education

Resident, student, and Grady s curriculum cochair Dave Day has taken a handful of courses at Wind Crest and is now teaching a class on the American Civil War. I m a history buff, says Day. I m interested in the Civil War, and I do a lot of reading on the subject, so I thought others would find it interesting too. Day and his wife began taking college-level courses at the University of Denver as part of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, a program for people 55 and up, when they moved to Wind Crest three years ago. Having the classes here on campus is so convenient, says Day of the Wind Crest Learners program, which began offering on-campus classes last year. There are no exams, credits, or certificates. It s simply the enjoyment of learning and experiencing new things. A retired engineer, Day served as the dean of engineering for eight years at the University of Denver. Last term, he taught a basic Introduction to Engineering course at Wind Crest. There is such a wealth of knowledge here some residents are former teachers, others are experts on various subjects from their careers, says Day. For example, All About Colorado is taught by a gentleman who worked with the Farm Service and knows his way around every county in the state. Another class on water rights and land use in Colorado was taught by a resident who is a former Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior and professor of law at the University of Denver. The list goes on and on.