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.


Fall 2017 Catalog – Available Now!

We know you all have been anxiously awaiting the arrival of the Fall 2017 Course Catalog in your mailboxes. That should happen by mid-August. In the meantime, you can check out our online course listings or download the pdf version of the catalog. Many thanks to the volunteers on our wonderful Publications Committee for their hard work and commitment to get this out to you as soon as possible.

Paddle the Potomac with our Kayak Club

The Kayak Club is up and running this season on the Potomac. We have had good weather and been able to get out on the water almost every other week. As those of you who paddle out of Fletcher’s know, when you get on the water you are surrounded by trees, and it feels like you are somewhere in the country, rather than in the heart of the nation’s capital. Also even if it’s hot, there is usually a nice breeze on the water.

Club Co-Coordinator Wayne Moore (foreground) and other members enjoying the day.

If you haven’t tried kayaking before, this is a good opportunity to try it in a safe environment, with a friendly group of paddlers. We go out on the second and fourth Wednesday of the month and hope to see you there.

Club Co-Coordinator Janice Yeadon, ready to paddle!

— Submitted by Janice Yeadon. Photos courtesy of Rosemary Schwartzbard.

Club outings are for our members only. If you are not a member, join Encore Learning! If you are already a member and would like to join the Kayak Club, send an email request with your name and contact information to or call 703-228-2144.

Community Advisory Council Profile: Una 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. Here is the first of a series of interviews with our current Council members.

Community Advisory Council member, Una Murphy, is Director of Administration and Operations for George Mason University’s Arlington campus and for Mason in Loudoun, co-located with Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) at Signal Hill Plaza in Sterling. Ms. Murphy, or Una, as she prefers, has served on Encore Learning’s Community Advisory Council since 2013 and is a frequent sight in Founders Hall. She recently shared the following with us:

I arrived in the DC Metro area in the summer of 1990 from New York, where I had attended Brooklyn College and received my BA in Business Management and Finance. After working as a professional fundraiser for 20 years, 13 of those with Mason’s Advancement team, I changed careers to become a campus administrator. My first encounter with Encore Learning actually was during my time in University Advancement – Encore Learning’s generosity in supporting students through a scholarship for students that attend the Schar School is a testament to the partnership between Encore Learning, the University, and our Arlington Campus family. Encore Learning does such a service to the community, promoting lifelong learning and bridging the relationships between scholars who are starting their journey and those who have the life experience and can give back. I have seen members of Encore Learning interacting with members of the student body, faculty and staff, offering a friendly hello or deep in conversation about issues that impact today’s society. 

Una’s generous assessment of our mission and its impact belies the great deal of work her staff performs on behalf of Encore Learning. It is Mason’s classroom support group that services the audiovisual equipment behind the scenes and when our own staff and class aides are stymied by a technical glitch. Mason’s facilities crew keeps the building and classrooms in order and clean. The group in her office suite handle a multitude of duties that support our presence in the building: the information desk in the lobby, the community e-notices of campus events and lectures, the scheduling of classrooms – all are under her direction. As she put it succinctly: “We do our best to support Encore Learning by making the Campus run as efficiently as possible and be as welcoming as possible to Encore learning members who take classes on the Arlington Campus.”

When not dividing her work week between two corners of Northern Virginia, Una finds a bit of time to relax over the weekend with her husband (and lovable dog, Louie Tutone, seen below) on the Potomac River on their boat. “We try to vacation when we can – favorite destinations include Florida, Hawaii, and visits with family and friends.” And what about when she actually retires? Would she be interested in what Encore Learning has to offer? “I would absolutely be interested in courses on history (I am currently reading a biography on Douglas MacArthur) and definitely Arts and Music.Honestly, I don’t think I could go wrong with any course I could take at Encore Learning… the passion I have seen from volunteers and members and the teachers  – the whole community! – means that any class I take would be an adventure!!”

Meet Instructor Nan Morrison

Nan Morrison with “Lost in Venice” acrylic, 18 x 36 inches (January Art League show, Torpedo Factory)

Although Encore Learning students and many others know Nan Morrison as an artist and art teacher, her art career began later in life. It wasn’t that Nan wasn’t interested in art. When she was a young woman starting out, her home reflected her developing interest in different styles of art with the motif of Rousseau’s Jungle Scene and poster of Matisse’s Open Window. College, however, wasn’t an option for the Atlanta native who went to work when she was 16.

Nan worked a variety of jobs until 1978 when friends moving to DC convinced her to move and take a job with an Oregon congressman. This was the start of what would over time develop into a lengthy federal government career as a congressional and legislative specialist — in the House, the Senate and the Department of the Interior, advancing in her career based on her experience.

“For so long, I was so focused on working,” she recalled. But then her world expanded beyond her job. She began taking Smithsonian art classes on Rembrandt, Matisse, Monet. Still, she commented, “I always felt I missed out because I didn’t have a college degree.” So, she met with staff at a couple of local universities who told her to begin her degree path by completing two years at a community college. Then she met with the staff of Georgetown University’s Liberal Studies program, one designed for people working full time, and knew she’d met her match.

“Love Letter to Mexico City” acrylic, 36 x 48 inches

“For eight years, I went to school at night and on weekends,” she said. “I poured myself into my education in my 40s. I got that education when it meant a great deal to me.” In those eight years, Nan earned not only her bachelor’s degree, but her master’s degree as well. “My mentor showed me how I could get my master’s in two years,” Nan said, “I knew if I took a break, I wouldn’t do it.”

Then Nan’s art education evolved beyond the classroom. “After 9/11, I started painting. I bought a $5 set of watercolors. I would put together a still life and start painting,” she recalled. In 2007, she became a docent at the National Gallery. Two years later, she retired from the federal government and rented space at the Columbia Pike Artist Studios where she continues to paint today. She is also active with the Arlington Artists Alliance.

One of her Georgetown professors added another facet to Nan’s new career, by inviting her to teach the art portion of his Renaissance course. She is now an adjunct professor in the same program in which she had earned her degrees. “About a third of our students are veterans in their 30s and 40s,” she commented, “It’s great to see them getting their degrees.”

Her own education and her teaching experience make Nan a natural fit for Encore Learning. It was Karl Van Newkirk, Encore Learning instructor and Nan’s longtime friend, who introduced her to Encore Learning. When she moved to the Virginia Square neighborhood, she also met many neighbors who also encouraged her to get involved with Encore Learning. Karl, these friends who “wouldn’t take no for an answer,” and the Encore Learning catalog convinced her to become an instructor. She has taught two classes — Renaissance Art and 19th Century French Art. She is developing a third class on American Art. “I encourage people to take classes,” she said. “Education is such a vibrant way to stay relevant.” She also encourages others to teach, “You learn by teaching,” she commented. “The questions I get in class generate more questions for me.”

Detail of new work “Frog Pond” acrylic, 36 x 48 inches

Nan’s profile says her paintings celebrate an exploration and discovery of color and texture and manipulation of line, shape and form. Her art has been on display in numerous juried shows, in Alexandria’s Torpedo Factory and recently in the Arlington County Board offices. While shows and displays end, her studio in the Columbia Pike Artist Studios remains a constant. It is on the second floor of Arlington’s Cinema and Drafthouse, convenient to several bus routes and with a parking lot, convenient for drivers. If you’d like to visit Nan in her studio, please contact the Encore Learning office and we will put you in touch.

— Submitted by Laura Paul

Explore World Cuisines with our Ethnic Lunch Club

Members of the Ethnic Lunch Club get together on the last Thursday of each month at different locations in Northern Virginia — usually in Arlington, Alexandria, Annandale, Falls Church, and McLean.  This includes Shirlington and Bailey’s Crossroads. Members are planners, each taking a turn in planning one event, coordinating with a restaurant, and taking reservations.

 Ethnic Lunch Club at Osteria da Nino, June 2017

Since January we have enjoyed:
  • Stuffed cabbage leaves, beef stroganoff, plov, pelmeni  and chicken kiev at Rus Uz
  • Chicken kebobs topped with orchids  and mid-Eastern appetizers at Amoos
  • Pad Thai and drunken noodles at Tara Thai
  • Tacos, tamals,  enchiladas, and fried ice cream at La Union
  • Southern fried chicken, shrimp and grits, okra,  collards,  and warm biscuits with honey at Tupelo Honey
  • Spinach ravioli, cavatelli, and panini at Osteria da Nino
Our next lunches will be Indian in Clarendon, Vietnamese in Falls Church, Irish in Falls Church, and Greek in Alexandria.
We do not meet Thanksgiving week. Our holiday lunch is a combination November-December event–location to be announced.

Arlene Kigin and George Ruppert enjoying their pasta!

In 2018,  in addition to our Italian, Chinese, and Mid-Eastern favorites we may try to include Mala Tang for Chengdu Hot Pot;  To Sok Jip which Tyler Cowen calls “the best Korean place around”,(space permitting); a Hawaiian poke (POH-kay) spot; and bento boxes at a Japanese location. If a planner wishes to be even more adventurous, we may also explore local Afghan and Ethiopian options.

— Submitted by Arlene Kigin, Club Coordinator. Photos courtesy of Lee Cooper.

Club outings are for our members only. If you are not a member, join Encore Learning! If you are already a member and would like to join the Ethnic Lunch Club, send an email request with your name and contact information to or call 703-228-2144.


Our Lecture Series – Dr. Douglas L. Griffin

Encore Learning has a partnership with Arlington Central Library to present a variety of speakers each month. Our joint “Meet the Speaker/Author” series presentations are free, open to the public, and always well attended.

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A crowd gathers for Dr. Griffin’s presentation.

On May 22, 2017, we hosted Dr. Douglas L. Griffin, whose presentation was titled Reforming Biblical Spirituality: Exploring Ancient Texts with Modern Eyes. Encore Learning Instructor Dwight Rodgers introduced Dr. Griffin, and member Claire McCarthy moderated the Q & A following the presentation.

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Pictured (from left to right): Claire McCarthy, Dwight Rodgers, Dr. Griffin

Dr. Griffin is a scholar of the Historical Jesus movement, and views the texts of the Jewish and Christian tradition through the eyes of the critical historian as well as Christian practitioner. Dr. Griffin’s PhD is in religion and culture from Catholic University, and he is a long-term affiliate of the scholarly Westar Institute. In addition, Dr. Griffin has a firm attachment to Buddhist tradition.

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Pictured (left to right): Dr. Griffin, Claire McCarthy, Dwight Rodgers

Dr. Griffin is the author of the provocatively titled If You Find Jesus Bury Him!: Reforming Biblical Spirituality. His book is available from Amazon in Kindle form and from Barnes and Noble in Nook form.

Our current Special Events offerings may always be found online. We hope you can join us at one of our events soon!

Does Mindfulness Improve Well-being? Try our Club and See for Yourself!

Encore Learning’s Mindfulness Club meets weekly throughout the year to discuss mindfulness as a health and wellness practice. The group opens each week with a period of general discussion and sharing, followed by about 20 minutes of guided meditation, and ending with a recorded program from an expert source. While each weekly gathering is about 90 minutes long, participants may arrive any time during the general discussion and leave after the meditation period as their schedule dictates.

2017 June Mindfulness Club courtesy Dwight Rodgers Cropped
The Mindfulness Club at a June 2017 gathering – Photo Courtesy Dwight Rogers

Mindfulness practice has roots in Buddhist meditation and outlook, and has been adapted for Westerners of all or no religious persuasion who are interested in developing the clarity and emotional balance which is helpful in maintaining general good health. Mindfulness is taught in hundreds of medical and nursing schools in the United States, typically as Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), and is regarded in the medical profession as a practice complementary to more traditional medicine. The Mindfulness Club’s weekly gathering explores various aspects of the practice as a way to promote physical and emotional health.

Our weekly participation is usually 15 to 20, and all Encore Learning members are welcome to join us to see what we are up to. Please contact the Encore Office for information on the meeting time and location.

Submitted by Dwight Rodgers, Club Coordinator

Travel Near and Far with our Travel Club

Travel Club members meet monthly to organize international trips, to hear about trips to all corners of the globe, and recently to add shorter trips to local locations.  A popular destination is Staunton, Virginia, home of the American Shakespeare Center and its Blackfriars Playhouse. Staunton is about a two and half hour drive from Arlington.

The groups stayed at the Stonewall Jackson Hotel, which is newly renovated and near the Playhouse. For Encore Learning members who are interested in a visit, the hotel offers a special theater package with a room for two, two tickets to a Playhouse production, parking, and a buffet brunch for two.

Staunton 2 2015 (1)
(Left to Right) Brenda Yager, Joan Rineberg, Mary Crosby, Sharon Bisdee, Kathy Brown, Sharon Schoumacher.    Photo courtesy of Mary Crosby.

Travelers often schedule two plays during the visit, one on Saturday evening and the second a Sunday matinee.  They tour the downtown areas in Staunton, which include art galleries, boutiques, antique shops, a glass blowing studio and cafes.  Some tour the Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library and Museum.

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Blackfriars Playhouse stage at the American Shakespeare Center, Staunton Virginia.    Photo Courtesy of Mary Crosby.

Plays that have been enjoyed include “Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Anthony and Cleopatra,” and a non-Shakespearean “Bloody, Bloody, Andrew Jackson.”  The Shakespearean plays are performed in a space that replicates the first indoor theater during the playwright’s time.  Attendees sit on three sides of the stage, and a few sit on the stage.

Travel Club members have also taken a day trip to Richmond to visit the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA), which features special exhibitions as well as a permanent collection.  Other possible trip destinations include the Baltimore and Philadelphia museums, Winterthur and the Barter Theater in Abingdon, Virginia.

Submitted by Mary Crosby.

Our Fees Effective July 1, 2017

Annual Membership: $65.00

Each course: $55.00