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October 2023 Newsletter

The Inside Scoop

Welcome to The Inside Scoop, our electronic newsletter. Please enjoy this issue and share your feedback by email. We always look forward to hearing from you. This is the October 2023 edition of The Inside Scoop.

Fall 2023 Semester News and Reminders

You Can Still Sign-Up for Classes!

The 42nd semester is going strong, but there are still several classes with availability that have not begun yet. Registration is ongoing with classes running through mid December. Check out our Courses page for the calendar view, grid view, a PDF and more.

Reminders For Fall Courses

We’re looking forward to seeing you in class, either in-person or virtually! You will receive a reminder email with more information two days before your class begins, but in the meantime, here are a few tips and reminders to help you prepare:

In-Person Course Locations: All class locations, including room numbers, can be found in the course description. All courses at GMU will be held in Van Metre Hall at the Mason Square Campus in Arlington. Paid parking is available in an attached garage accessed off of the alley on North Kirkwood Road. Parking for two hours is $9.00. There are nearby parking meters as well. We recently sent out a note about in-person classroom requests. You can view that message here.

Zoom Login Information for Virtual Courses: All Zoom login information has been uploaded to your member account and can be found in your class media. You will use the same login information for all class sessions, so we recommend saving the login information to your desktop. For tips on using Zoom, see these resources.

Class Media: You will be notified by staff when supplemental class materials are available to view in your member account. To access class media, log into your account on Member Account Manager, open the My Activities tab, navigate to the course, and select the View Media link.

Inclement Weather and Other Policies: Please see this link for more information.

Check out these classes starting soon

War in Ukraine

Click here for the full course description.

Inside the Orchestra

Click here for the full course description.

President’s Message

The two things people hate most in this world, are the ways things are now, and change. This seemingly chuckle-worthy comment was made by a woman who works in the San Francisco Bay area, dealing with transit issues. But it also continues to linger at the back of my mind whenever I look at the future — mine, Encore Learning, our County, State, the Country — just about everything. We do lament – or want to change – the ‘way things are,’ and we strain and struggle to find ways to make things better, but then, why doesn’t it just happen?  

Because change is hard. But change we must, and since it will occur with or without our assistance, we probably need to get on board so we can influence the way things will be. 

To reach my/our goals for Encore Learning, we have to look to new ideas. Our first twenty years created a vibrant entity. We have a challenging curriculum of courses, social activities abound, and Encore Learning is an active community participant. Our goals: attracting new members, increasing diversity among our members, embracing technology, keeping a thriving organization, are all laudable goals. How we reach them will require us to think and plan.  

Perhaps, building on last year’s Twentieth Anniversary Celebration, we might start with what might Encore Learning look like in 2042? Those innovators twenty some years ago started with a blank slate and built Encore Learning. Our present cadre of some 1000 members and supportive and creative staff can be no less forward-looking. What does AI bode for Encore Learning, indeed, the world? What areas of curriculum, and what kinds of activities will attract the most diverse interest? What new approaches should we try, and then refine or abandon? I’m calling on all of you who read this newsletter to ponder a bit about what you want for Encore Learning, and how we can get there. 

Do you have ideas? Thoughts? Comments? Send me an email via info@encorelearning.net. I’ll share them in future columns so we can plan together for our journey to 2042.

-Marilyn Marton, Board President

Encore Learning Board gathered at the beginning of the semester.

Board Members pictured l-r: Richard Rubin, Marilyn Marton, Mildred Patterson, Jean Falvey, Marty Suydam, Jeanne LaBella, Barry Ginsberg, Steve Shapiro, Joan Carter, Bill Reilly, Carol Fuller, Tom Adams, Gail Massot, Lora Pollari-Welbes (Executive Director). Not pictured: Kris McLaughlin, Jane Nagy, David Briggs, Ann Kaupp, and Deb Spero.


The best way for Encore Learning to keep offering great classes, clubs and events is to recruit new members. You can help us by inviting your friends to join. Here is a sample email you can send to your friends. Just customize with how many years you have been a member:

I have been an Encore Learning member for xx years and really enjoy the learning, connecting, and fun. College-level classes, no homework, excellent instructors, in-person and online options, low fees, and a great variety of classes, events, and clubs. Whatever your interest, there is bound to be something that intrigues you. Information about membership, events, clubs, and classes is available at www.encorelearning.net. I’m happy to talk with you about Encore Learning and hope you join. Thanks for considering us!

Special Events

Free Short Film Destino:

Many members registered for the October 13 tour of The Dalí (Salvador Dalí Museum), St. Petersburg, Florida – 25 confirmed and more on the waitlist. Fortunately, the museum agreed to let all registrants attend, and 40+ members did so.


We learned a lot of historical context to help us better understand the art we saw during the tour. For example, Salvador Dali and Walt Disney (an unlikely pair?) were artistic collaborators and friends. Here’s a short film they made after WWII. Our docent recommended it as bizarre and fun; we think you will agree. Enjoy.

-Kris McLaughlin, Chair, Special Events Committee

Visit our Events page on our website to see what exciting events we have planned. We look forward to seeing you online or in person soon!

Club News

Please email the Encore Learning office if you are interested in joining any of our clubs or would like more information. You can also visit our Clubs page on our website.

Chamber Music Club Meets for the First Time

The inaugural meeting of the Encore Learning Chamber Music Club took place on Friday, October 13, when the Friday Morning Music Club performed pieces by Hayden, Gliere and Poulenc at St. George’s Church near the Virginia Square Metro.

The program, with its piano solo, violin and cello duet, and piano and clarinet duet, was very well received.

What does club membership involve? The Friday Morning Music Club gives concert-level, noon chamber music performances the first and second Friday of the month through May. Club members get one email monthly with the programs for the next two concerts attached. You choose which concerts to attend. Performances end at 1:00 PM, a perfect time for Encore Learning members to go for coffee or lunch and discuss the program. Please join us.

-Rhoda Ritzenberg, Club Coordinator

Travel Club

Steve and Linda Shapiro presented a slide show of their 2-week, mid-summer 2023 trip to Scotland at the October club meeting. The Shapiros traveled the length of the cross-country Caledonian Canal by small cruise ship.  Along the way, they hiked, walked, and attended lectures with a National Geographic photographer and Lindblad Expedition historians and a naturalist through weather varying from warm and sunny to cool and rainy.  We had 32 members attend. One said she wanted to watch all the photos again, they were so beautiful.


Next month, Friday, November 17, at 3:30 PM via Zoom, Marty Suydam will lead a discussion on Medical Problems and Travel: Planning, Preparation, and During Travel.  


Marty will kick off discussion with recent experiences involving medical situations experienced on international travel (Vietnam, Danube, Queen Mary) and domestic travel (Florida). Insights to issues related to COVID and evacuation will be highlighted. Participants will be encouraged to share their experience and knowledge.

Nonfiction Book Club

Members of the Encore Learning Nonfiction Book Club will meet on November 13 in the Arlington Central Library, Bluemont Room, to discuss The Premonition: A Pandemic Story. The meeting will begin at 1:30 PM and end around 3:00 PM. Join us to discuss this fascinating book by Michael Lewis. “Lewis brings a welcome gimlet eye to the Trump era… the lessons of the The Premonition apply to more than just the C.D.C. — they tell us why government bureaucracies fail.”–Nick Confessore, New York Times Book Review. 

-Ed Rader, Club Coordinator

Current Issues Discussion Group

Discussion topics in October and November will include: Is American Democracy Cracking? Book Banning in America, and the Conflict between Hamas and Israel (recent and likely future). The group welcomes new members. – Richard Lawrence, Club Coordinator

Mindfulness Club

The Mindfulness Club meets by Zoom each Wednesday from Noon to 1:00 PM for a 20 minute meditation period, discussion and socialization. In addition, those on the Club email list receive a weekly message with suggestions for mindfulness practice, and the related practice of meditation. Club founder Bruce Britton has recently composed a brief report on the scientifically proven benefits of meditation, which is attached. If you wish to receive the Club’s weekly message, which includes the Zoom instructions for joining the Wednesday event, please email the Encore Learning office. – Dwight Rodgers, Club Coordinator

Bridge Club

Twenty Bridge Club members met for lunch and five tables of Bridge at Cynthia and Jeremy Baskin’s condo in September. They have a large condo so were able to accommodate five Bridge tables. Most of our members can only accommodate two or three tables in their homes, so it was nice to be able to have 20 of us in someone’s home instead of in a community center. We’re already planning other Bridge games for December and January, times and places to be announced. If there are any Bridge players out there who have not joined our club and would be interested, you can contact the office or Joan Carter at jcarter4609@verizon.net or Sharon Bisdee at sbisdee@gmail.com.

New Board Member Profile: Carol Fuller

We are pleased to welcome longtime Encore Learning member Carol Fuller to our Board of Directors as co-Chair of the Class Aides Committee. Carol kindly answered some questions to help us get to know her a little better.

What made you decide to join the Board? I’ve been attending lots of classes and serving as a Class Aide for a number of years. During COVID, I became very adept with Zoom, and was glad to share my knowledge with others as Class Aide Co-Chair.


What is your favorite thing about Encore Learning? I expand my knowledge and learn things I didn’t know. This semester I’m taking 4 literature courses, all in areas that I have no familiarity with, so I’m a novice and it’s terra incognita for me.

Where did you grow up? Westfield, New Jersey, outskirts of NYC. But since the age of 17, I’ve lived elsewhere, including 27 years in the diplomatic service serving overseas.

What else do you do in your spare time, when you are not volunteering for Encore Learning? I joke that I’m in my third career now, as a community activist and volunteer. So much interests me that I’m far busier now than I was when I was working as a teacher or a diplomat. After I retired in 2011, I helped found the Crystal City Civic Association in 2014 and served as its President from 2017 to 2021 — with development and Amazon’s HQ2 high on my agenda. I also helped found Livability22202, a coalition of the 3 civic associations in the 22202 zip code. I’m still very active in both. My many volunteer assignments have included ushering at local theaters, as a Docent at the Library of Congress, creation of the Highlands Urban Garden (HUG) in Virginia Highlands Park, assisting AFAC with distribution and Spanish surveys, and Class Aide for Encore Learning. In my spare time, I read—a lot!!!

What’s your favorite food? I’m very eclectic in my choices. But I love Peruvian food for its spices and variety. But then Italian food is great too. We don’t eat a lot of meat.

Where in the world would you like to visit? I have lived, worked, or visited in every continent in the world except for Antarctica, but still love to travel. Each year I travel with about five Road Scholar trips: this year Ireland, Paris, and Sicily. In January I’m traveling to the boot of Italy. I love horse riding and we did two trips in March to dude ranches in Arizona.

What is one thing you’d like our members to know about you? That I’m open to learning new things and willing to admit when I’m wrong.

An Invitation from our partners at GMU Schar School of Policy and Government

Encore Learning members are invited to attend the Schar School of Policy and Government 2023 Haynes Lecture.

The lecture will take place on November 6 at 7:30 PM in the Van Metre Hall Auditorium (Mason Square Campus). Special Guest Speaker is Nobel Laureate Dr. George A. Akerlof.

Registration is required. For more information and to register, click on this link or the image.

Make a Gift That Matters and Save on Your Taxes

With the year-end approaching, some of you may be doing some tax planning and there are three ways to support Encore Learning and your other favorite charities while lowering your tax liability.

  1. Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD) from your IRA makes your donation 100% tax deductible even if you don’t itemize.
  2. Appreciated securities (eg. stocks) will avoid paying capital gains tax and also increase your itemizable deductions
  3. A grant from your donor-advised fund which has been funded from appreciated assets.

For more details, please visit this page for helpful info about end-of-year giving. You can bookmark it for later too!

Help Us Connect

We’re looking for a few good outreach opportunities with the regional community to tell them about Encore Learning. Do you have contact with the pre- or newly retired services for any branch of the military, Federal, state or local government employees? Any contacts with a faith community that is interested in programs which could serve its age 50+ members? If so, please send Lora Pollari-Welbes a message at info@encorelearning.net. Thank you!

Staff Corner

October has been a month of growth and connection for us, and we’re thrilled to share some exciting updates with you.

Firstly, we extend a warm welcome to our newest club, the Chamber Music Club! This provides a unique opportunity to meet fellow members who share a passion for music. A heartfelt thank you goes to Rhoda Ritzenberg for spearheading this initiative.

We’ve been delighted to see our campus bustling with activity as students dive into our courses. Your glowing reviews have been music to our ears! Your feedback is invaluable, ensuring that we continue to provide exceptional learning experiences. As classes come to an end, we kindly ask you to complete the course evaluations. The SurveyMonkey link is emailed to you on the last day of your class.

We want to keep you informed about any changes to your classes. Occasionally, a session might be canceled, and we promise to notify you promptly via email. If you encounter any difficulties accessing class media, don’t hesitate to reach out. Our team is here to assist you every step of the way. Plus, there’s still time to register for upcoming classes starting soon – seize the opportunity to continue your learning journey with us.

We are thrilled to welcome a wave of new members into our community, including many members from Goodwin Living. We’re hosting a New Member Coffee in November, with another one planned for the spring. Your word-of-mouth referrals have been instrumental in our growth, and we encourage you to continue spreading the word about Encore Learning.

Our Academic Programs Committee is hard at work, shaping an exciting lineup of courses for the Spring Semester, commencing on March 4, 2024. To ensure a diverse and engaging learning experience, we need your support. Your membership and telling others about membership not only enriches your own life but also helps us expand our offerings to the community.

Lastly, we invite you to join us at Mason Square’s Candy Crawl-o-ween on October 31st from 3-5:00 PM. It’s a delightful opportunity for some Halloween fun and community bonding. We wish you a safe and enjoyable Halloween celebration.

Thank you for being an integral part of the Encore Learning family. Your passion for learning and community engagement inspire us every day. Here’s to many more enriching experiences together!

Lora Pollari-Welbes

Executive Director

Important Date Reminders

  • There are no classes and the office is closed on November 7 for Election Day and November 10 in honor of Veterans Day.
  • The office is closed November 22-24 for Thanksgiving break.
  • The office is closed December 18-January 1 for holiday break.

Welcome To Our New Members

During September 2023, we welcomed the following new members:

  • Mary Ashley
  • Amy Barry
  • Carolyn Barton
  • Michael Boito
  • Mary Busse
  • D’Vera Cohn
  • Oliver Cole
  • John Crawford
  • Jenay Denman
  • Arlene Edwards
  • Alan Ehrenhalt
  • Jack Goldfrank
  • George Handy
  • James Hobson
  • Janina Jaruzelski
  • Susan Jenkins
  • Robert Jones
  • Daniel Kelley
  • Susan Kernan
  • Barbara Kirkland
  • Keith Klein
  • Ginnie Knight
  • Sophie Krasik
  • Gerda Lane
  • Kay Lusk
  • Lory Manning
  • Debbie Massey
  • Kathi Menda
  • Mabel Mestre
  • Michael Milano
  • Susan Mitchell
  • Carl Newby
  • Sandra O’Keefe
  • Myrtis Parham
  • Joyce Rhodes
  • Aaron Ridgell
  • Jane Roningen
  • Vernon Roningen
  • Patti Rosenberg
  • Barry Rosman
  • Rosanne Scott
  • Elaine Serlin
  • Chaya Siegelbaum
  • Gretchen Snyder
  • Michael Snyder
  • Anne Tonks
  • Rebecca Webb
  • Iram Weinstein

Thank you to Gus Arduro, Elizabeth Hickey, Ken McLean, Mary Kate Roberts, Jackie Kramer, Olga Mitchell, Deborah Newby, Jutta Bauman, Deb Spero, Bruce Tiernay and Goodwin Living for referring friends who became members of Encore Learning! Spread the word and please refer friends and family to Encore Learning. If you’d like to bring Encore Learning into your community (residential building or neighborhood) to share information about membership, let us know.

Encore Learning is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Any donation is a charitable contribution deductible from income tax to the full extent permitted by law. Members, friends and organizations wishing to support Encore Learning may direct contributions to our General Fund to support our sustainability or to the Arthur W. Gosling Youth Scholarship Fund. If you wish to designate a charitable gift in someone’s honor or memory, please email us indicating how the gift should be recognized. If you would like to discuss tax benefits of charitable giving and charitable remainder trusts, please view our Donate page or contact the office.

We hope you enjoyed this edition of The Inside Scoop. If you would like to submit an article or share some photos of members participating in Encore Learning activities, please email us at info@encorelearning.net.

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Lifelong Learning For Those Over 50