Save the Dates – Fall 2017

The Fall Course Preview will be held on Saturday, September 9, 2017 at 9 a.m. at NRECA.


Registration will open at 10 a.m. sharp on Monday, September 11, 2017.


Our Fall semester will begin Monday, October 2, 2017.


2 seats left! Monday’s Tour of World War I Exhibit at Library of Congress

We had two last minute cancellations for this previously sold out tour on Monday, November 20, 2017.  For more information or to register:

Travel Club Trip Report: Malta, Italy’s West Coast, and Rome

In September 2017, thirteen Encore Learning Travel Club members embarked on a Grand Circle Line cruise that included Malta, the Western Coast of Italy, and Rome.

Photo Courtesy Floriana Strano

The group flew to Valleta, Malta where we spent three days. We toured the historical section of Valleta and the old silent city of Mdina, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In Valleta we met the current Knight of Malta when we toured his villa. Other tours included the prehistoric Hagar Qin Megalithic Temple, which will become a UNESCO Heritage Site in 2018. One of the highlights of the visit was a talk given by a Maltese language professor explaining the origins of the Maltese language that include Arabic, Italian and English among other languages.

Gozo Island. Photo Courtesy Sharon Schoumacher.

Hagar Qin. Photo Courtesy Tom Wukitsch.

The third day we embarked on the Grand Circle small cruise ship Artemus in Valletta where we joined other travelers on the cruise and sailed to Siracusa, Sicily. There we toured the ruins of the ancient Greek city of Syracuse, another UNESCO site and the home of Archimedes. The following day the ship docked at Marina di Riposto, Sicily where we disembarked for a tour of the Mount Etna lava fields. The braver members climbed to the cold and windy rim of Mount Etna, while others huddled in the coffee shop! Mount Etna is also the home of the Cyclops. When we returned to the ship we had a very interesting lecture by a professional geologist working in the Mount Etna region. His prediction of possible eruptions in the near future made the group happy that we were sailing on that night.

Photo Courtesy Floriana Strano.

Duomo di Siracusa. Photo Courtesy Sharon Schoumacher.

The ship then sailed to the Aeolian Islands where the group visited a caper farm. Capers are a speciality of the region. The next stop was Salerno. We visited the extensive ruins of Paestum, another ancient Greek city, and then traveled to a buffalo dairy farm that specialized in buffalo mozzarella cheese. After a tour of the farm, we had a lunch that included several cheeses made from buffalo milk. We continued along the Amalfi Coast and waved to Capri as we passed.

Docking in Salerno some tour members visited Pompeii, while others traveled to Naples to visit the museum where the treasures of Pompeii are housed. This is a fabulous museum – not to be missed if you are in the area. We then sailed to Sorrento, where we enjoyed home hosted lunches with Italian families and explored the market full of the local lemon specialties including the liqueur Limoncello.

Pozzuoli. Photo Courtesy Sharon Schoumacher

After passing the Eolian islands, which included Stromboli, and visiting other small islands, Procida and Pozzuolli, we disembarked at Gaeta and visited Oasi di Ninfa Nature Park and Botanical Gardens that are on the site of the ruins of a medieval town. The gardens contain plants and birds from all over the world and are not generally on standard tours, so we were fortunate to visit.

Club members and tour guide. Photo Courtesy Sharon Schoumacher.

We then continued our travel to Rome and had a day in Rome sightseeing. We enjoyed a farewell dinner with a wonderful Tiramisu dessert with our other tour mates from the Artemus before flying home to Arlington.  This tour was excellent and highly recommended for those interested in the area.

Tivoli Fountain. Photo Courtesy Sharon Schoumacher.

— Submitted by member Connie Collins

Community Advisory Council Profile: Dr. Patrick K. Murphy

Our Community Advisory Council, established in 2006, serves as a sounding board and network of support for Encore Learning’s Board of Directors. The Council, comprised of community leaders and representatives from our affiliates, meets once or twice a year with the Board and staff to review acquisition of classroom and office space, membership levels and diversity, recruitment of instructors, and additional affiliations. The broad, deep and diverse experience they bring to the discussion is invaluable.

We continue our series on current Council members with this interview of Dr. Patrick K. Murphy, Superintendent of Arlington Public Schools. Dr. Murphy has served on Encore Learning’s Community Advisory Council since 2009 when he arrived in Arlington in his present position. He has spoken to our membership at several course previews but here’s a bit of his background he may not have covered in those short addresses.


You’ve been in education your entire life! Well, perhaps excluding your toddler years. Your family moved from New York City to Northern Virginia in 1964. Tell us more.

My father worked for the Federal Government as a U.S. customs agent and was assigned to Dulles, National, and Andrews Air Force Base for international flights

I’m sure he had some stories to tell at the dinner table. Assuming you followed the typical primary to secondary school trajectory, you then earned your BS at James Madison. What were your interests during that period?

As a teenager and young adult, I worked at summer camps and coached local community swim teams. I have always been involved in coaching and teaching. I enjoy seeing others be successful, and at some point, recognized that I would have a leadership role working with children and families.

There’s a bit of a trend here: Virginia public universities and education degrees. This time, you earned your MA and doctorate in Educational Administration from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, more recently referred to as Virginia Tech. That led to more work in your  desired field.

I have served in several public educational roles as a teacher’s assistant, teacher, coach, principal, director, assistant superintendent, and now superintendent.

You were honored in that role with the Virginia Superintendent of the Year award in 2015. Congrats! With Arlington Public Schools as our earliest affiliate, we are fortunate indeed to have the current APS superintendent on our council, as well as a former APS superintendent serving as our board president. How does your position at APS enrich Encore Learning’s mission?

It sends a message to the entire community that learning is continuous, and, also that all of us have something to contribute to enrich others.  It also highlights the ideal that learning is going to be constant in our lives and there are a variety of ways that can occur. Consequently, Encore Learning has found a collective way of tapping into the energy and talent of the community to create this exceptional community asset, coupled with the momentum and growth the organization continues to demonstrate through leadership and democratic beliefs and practices

So, you really like us!

Encore Learning is an outstanding organization with its unique approach to create a community of learners. I especially like the philosophy of Encore Learning that demonstrates and reflects the ideals of continuous and life-long learning.

We couldn’t say it any better. Which of our subject areas capture your personal interests? Where would we find you on the weekend if you aren’t covering an event in your role as superintendent?

The importance of staying fit and active is important for all of us to live a healthy and productive life. The area of health and wellness would also be an area that I would enjoy learning more about as it relates to nutrition and longevity. When I’m relaxing, you will usually find me outside puttering around in the garage, gardening and working with my honey bees.

Guaranteed: There’s never a shortage of topics. Join our Current Issues Discussion Club!

The Current Issues Discussion Group meets the third Wednesday of every month to discuss a subject of interest selected at its last meeting. Topics range from cutting-edge world events to domestic policies currently in the news.

Photo Courtesy of Bob Gibson

All participants have an opportunity to express their opinions, present facts, or just to listen, during the lively informal lightly-led discussions. Some participants attend regularly; others occasionally or when the topic is of particular interest to them.

Our next meeting will address deliberate and inadvertent manipulation of public opinion through internet giants and social media such as Google, Facebook, and Twitter.

The group meets at the Langston-Brown Senior Center  2121 N. Culpeper Street, corner of Lee Highway just west of Glebe.

Encore Learning members on the Current Issues Discussion Group email list receive reminders of the next topic in advance of each meeting. If you are not on the list and wish to be, please notify the office and also inform them if you are likely to attend the November meeting.

— Submitted by Pete Taylor and Bob Gibson, Club Co-Coordinators

Encore Learning clubs are open to all current members. If you are not a member, join Encore Learning! If you are a member, send a request with your name and the club name to

It’s Reading Weather! Join our Non-fiction Book Club

“I have read some wonderful books that I never would have known about if it weren’t for this group.”  This is the most frequent comment we hear from our members.

Our Non-fiction Book Club meets every other month on the second Monday of the month. The first part of each meeting is spent discussing the book we have read for that month. We then move on to making recommendations and discussing books we might like to read for our next gathering. The books chosen are usually available through the Arlington Public Library. We try not to choose new books, as often there will be a long wait-list.

Photo Courtesy of Carter Vaden

Club members come from different careers and a variety of interests. We are comprised of both men and women and various ages. We encourage participation and often have very spirited and interesting discussions. These discussions often lead to an enhancement of the subject matter addressed in the book.

The meeting is attended by 25-30 members. People come when they can, but are under no obligation. Often members attend even if they have been unable to read or finish the selected book just to enjoy the discussion.

— Submitted by Co-Coordinators Carter Vaden and Pat Chatten.

Encore Learning clubs are open to all current members. If you are not a member, join Encore Learning! If you are a member, send a request with your name and the club name to

It’s not too late to register for courses this fall!

The following courses begin in the next two weeks and still have space available:

Cooking’s Chemistry…

Internet of Things…

World War II: The Early Years…

Instructor Profile: Connie Phlipot

When Connie Phlipot came to Encore Learning, she brought an extensive background in foreign policy and a love of teaching. Both have benefited students in the five classes she has taught. This semester she will teach “Russian Revolution: Reverberations Through the Century.” This follows other classes which drew on her Foreign Service career concentration on economics, Central/Eastern Europe, and economic/democratic transformation.

Connie Phlipot in Costa Rica

With her background, Connie has a wide variety of fascinating experiences to describe. She notes that one characteristic of her work as a diplomat was that it often was difficult to see tangible results. Despite this, she cites at least two instances where she saw her efforts pay off. While stationed in Latvia in the mid 1990’s, she worked to provide assistance to shore up the Latvian banking system after fraud caused the collapse of its largest bank. American efforts included training in good banking practices and helping write anti-money laundering legislation. The positive effects of these efforts forged long-lasting cooperation in the area of preventing financial crime. In another instance, while stationed in Moscow as Deputy Economic Counselor, she set up a successful summit of Russian and American women business leaders. One of the goals was to promote the idea of networking, a practice not common in Russian culture.

One of the more challenging aspects of some of her assignments was working in countries with a prior history of not being allied with or sympathetic to Western governments. Connie had to deal with the local and American staff’s (not unfounded) worries about being watched or harrassed by the host government. This kind of concern also factored into how the Embassy dealt with a wide variety of everyday problems. It was important to be able to discern between situations that had occurred spontaneously and those that had been set up deliberately to cause problems.

Hiking with her husband in Utah

Teaching has been one of the hallmarks of her retirement. After leaving the Foreign Service, Connie stayed in Poland for a year and a half while her husband served out a term as Deputy Director of an international organization. During this time, she taught international relations and other subjects at Polish universities. Upon her return to the U.S. in 2013, Connie sought out teaching opportunities and found information about Encore Learning on the George Mason University website. We responded quickly to her inquiry and she has been teaching for us ever since.

In addition to teaching, Connie has served as an election observer in Belarus and Ukraine, countries with a history of problems in the election process. She has also drafted a novel based on the life of her maternal grandparents who came from a small town in Belarus. In connection with this, she took an Encore Learning class on memoir writing.

She says that teaching for Encore Learning is a great experience because the students are so very interested. She would advise anyone considering it to teach a subject for which they have a passion. The courses that she has taught reflect not only things with which she is familiar but also are topics about which she would like to learn more.

— Written by member Peggy Higgins. Photos courtesy of Connie Philpot.

Enjoying Modern Art at Glenstone

Photo courtesy of Joanne Jones

One hot Thursday morning in September, a group of about fifteen intrepid art lovers drove over to Maryland to see some amazing outdoor sculpture installations featuring post World War II art. Glenstone Museum is situated on the beautiful grounds of a former 200-acre fox hunting estate. The combination of art, architecture, and landscape creates a terrific tour. The sculpture collection on view included works by Tony Smith, Janet Cardiff, Jeff Koons, and Ellsworth Kelly.

Join us on one of our next adventures! Check out our upcoming Special Events.

Photo courtesy of Karin Price.

Photo courtesy of Joanne Jones.

Photo courtesy of Joanne Jones.


Instructor Profile: Elizabeth Shelton

Elizabeth Shelton can trace her interest in a State Department career to grammar school. “In the eighth grade, we were asked what we wanted to be,” she recalled. “I said I wanted to be a diplomat. I have no idea where that came from, but I was already interested in international things.”

Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Shelton

Her love of Washington, DC also goes back to her youth. As a high school junior, the Ann Arbor, MI native spent Easter vacation with her aunt who lived across from the National Cathedral. “It was winter in Michigan, it was spring here. I was blown away. I fell in love with the city. It was beautiful, it was exciting. Now I’ve lived all over the world, but Washington is my home.”

She took the Foreign Service exams her senior year in college. “I received ‘Congratulations, your name is on the list.’ I didn’t have a clue what that meant. How many people were on the list? What number was I?”

In August of 1962, she recalls that two momentous things happened. “I came here to stay with my aunt and look for a job. That Sunday, I went to church with my aunt and met Napier, the man who would become my husband. Tuesday, I got a telegram from the State Department offering a job.”

After a year of training, Elizabeth was off to Bangkok. Napier remained in DC, where he worked for the National Park Service. “I said to Napier, if you want me, you know where to find me. Eventually, he came and we were married in Bangkok in 1964. Then I had to resign from the State Department because in those days, women officers could not be married.”

They moved to Ann Arbor where Napier earned his doctorate and they had three daughters. In 1971, the family moved to DC and Napier returned to the National Park Service. Elizabeth earned her Master’s in International Economic Development at American University.

In the meantime, women were taking the State Department to court for its employment policies and winning. As a result, in 1981, Elizabeth returned to the State Department as part of a program for women over 35.

“The State Department was like night and day in terms of the treatment of women and the makeup of the Foreign Service,” she commented. “What had been a bastion of white males from East Coast universities was totally transformed. Affirmative action had opened career paths to many people. For once, we were more representative of what the U.S. actually was.”

Elizabeth had changed as well. With her Master’s, she returned to the Foreign Service as an economist; an economist with a husband and three daughters. Napier was one of the first State Department husbands. He wrote articles for the Wall Street Journal and various magazines. When the girls’ schooling required it, he returned stateside with one or all of them.

Elizabeth served in Malaysia, Nigeria, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Albania. “I wanted to go somewhere where I could learn something and make a difference,” she said. “I was mostly in smaller, developing countries.”

While in Nigeria, she met informally with young economists — professors, editors, and others from the private sector — a group that grew to 50 people, often sitting on her floor. She brought some to the U.S. to meet with American economists. As the group was still developing, she extended her assignment for a third year. By the time she left, the group had become an official organization.

Her following assignments planted the seeds for her upcoming Encore Learning course. “Once I entered the Ottoman Empire with my assignment in Istanbul, I never left.” she said. “Azerbaijan and Albania are bookends of the Ottoman Empire. Turkey was a more open society. I did a lot of entertaining. I enjoyed bringing people together.” While stationed in Adana, a shooting war was in progress. “We still travelled. No one else did.”

While serving, she earned her M.S. in National Security Strategy from the National War College at the National Defense University in 1998. After retiring in 2005, she began working on her Ph.D. in Liberal Studies at Georgetown University. It was an interdisciplinary degree, meaning Elizabeth put all related information together for her dissertation “Faith, Freedom, and Flag: The Influence of American Missionaries in Turkey on Foreign Affairs, 1830-1880”.

“I included Ottoman history, Turkish history, European history, early American religion, Islam, early American education and philosophy — it was a wide swath,” she said. She finished in four years and planned to start teaching. “Then, I started giving lectures for the State Department and discovered the whole world of continuing education. I’m absolutely devoted to the concept, keeping the brain expanding.”

Elizabeth learned about Encore Learning when they called and asked her to give a lecture. “I was extremely impressed when 150 people attended the lecture,” she said. This semester’s class, Ottoman Empire’s Breakup, 1800-1923, is her first full Encore Learning course although she did lecture on Turkey as part of the Global Hot Spots course in the spring. She has also taught for the Chautauqua Institute in New York. “I really enjoy adult education because the audience is interested and interesting. We have good discussions,” she said.

— Written by member Laura Paul

Interested in Brain Health? Join us September 30

On Saturday, September 30, 2017, the Alliance for Arlington Senior Programs presents “Brain Health: A Revolution in Aging” at the Walter Reed Community Center. The program features two long-time Encore Learning instructors, Nort Beckerman, keynote speaker and author of A User’s Guide to a Healthy Brain, and Dwight Rodgers, who is teaching “Mindfulness as a Wellness Practice” for us this fall. Come and meet board member Ed Rader at the Encore Learning table and learn more about us! Call 703-228-0955 or email to register – more details below.