Interesting people, interesting courses

Lifelong learning program a popular pursuit

Created date

March 26th, 2020
Nancy Pawliger is the immediate past chair of the continuing education committee.

Nancy Pawliger is the immediate past chair of the continuing education committee.

How many times have you thought to yourself, “I’d love to learn more about opera,” or “When I retire, I’ll finally become fluent in Italian”? Learning new things and mastering new skills is a rewarding experience, but making the time to actually do it can be a challenge. Not for those who live at Riderwood, where access to continuing education is convenient and affordable.

The community has a robust lifelong learning program in partnership with Prince George’s Community College. About 40 different courses, ranging from literature and current affairs to tai chi and foreign languages, are offered on campus every trimester, and for just $85, residents can take as many classes as they’d like. 

“So, you can even try something you’re not that serious or sure about,” says Nancy Pawliger, who is the immediate past chair of the 12-person, resident-run continuing education committee.

Fills up quickly

Nancy says the courses are very popular among her neighbors. About 400 people enroll every trimester, with many classes filling up within minutes after registration opens.

“A lot of people come here because of the diversity of activities, including these classes,” she explains.

The dynamic continuing education committee selects the courses each trimester, identifies and interviews potential instructors, and creates a course catalog for residents. The committee also oversees the online registration process and solicits course evaluations at the end of each trimester in order to continuously improve the offerings.

“We try to really treat it like a business,” Nancy says. 

In addition to the work of selecting courses and instructors for the continuing education courses, the committee also brings three or four interesting speakers to campus each year. Recently, they’ve hosted a woman who worked as a doctor in Africa and wrote a book about her experience as well as Terry Thompson, who served in the National Security Agency for 27 years.

“It’s fun; we really enjoy it,” Nancy says.

The members of the continuing education committee come from a variety of different professional backgrounds and bring a range of skills to the table. For example, Nancy began her career as a social worker and then became a fundraising consultant for nonprofit organizations. She was asked to join the committee several years ago because of her extensive program experience. 

“I’ve gotten to know some really interesting people,” Nancy says of her work on the committee over the years. 

Nancy is a New York native. She and her husband Dick were living in Ohio before they moved to Riderwood. They relocated to Maryland to be closer to their daughter, son-in-law, and grandchildren.

“We moved here so we could see them grow up,” Nancy says.

Nancy and Dick are active in Riderwood’s Jewish community, which includes about 500 residents who get together for social and educational events throughout the year. They also volunteer as ambassadors to introduce prospective residents to Riderwood and everything the community has to offer. Nancy says she and Dick enjoy turning on new people to the active and enriching life they are living at Riderwood

“It’s been rewarding because a lot of people have said, ‘We were going to move in five years, but now we see how much fun you’re having here,’” Nancy says.