Both Joe and Paulette Dahman spent 30 years teaching others. But after ending their careers, the Grafton husband and wife have spent their retirement years learning.
The Dahmans have a passion for education. One day they’re learning music history from a representative of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, the next, they’re doing tai chi. They’ve studied art history, current events and Chinese medicine, and learned about philosophers and battleships and sports and spirituality. They’ve gone on class trips and made friends and expanded their horizons at an age when many people think their days of learning are behind them.
None of this would be possible without Lorain County Community College’s Center for LifeLong Learning, whose classes are open to those 50 and older. The Dahmans— 73-year-old Joe and 72-year-old Paulette — prove that with age comes wisdom, especially when you are willing to seek it out.
“It keeps you well-rounded, it keeps you open to new ideas, it helps you learn more about yourself,” Paulette says. “It also gives you something to look forward to. And it shows our grandchildren that learning doesn’t end, that it’s fun and exciting.”
The Dahmans have been taking classes for more than 15 years. Classes are the embodiment of the center’s motto: “Curiosity Never Retires.” They cost as little as $5 and include five to 25 students. Classes are offered at all LCCC campuses and select retirement communities in Lorain County.
The Center for LifeLong Learning works hard to get out the word about the program and finds a receptive audience.
Jennifer Krupa, LCCC’s program coordinator for the Center for LifeLong Learning, says that older people are eager to learn and open to new ideas.
“People will say, ‘Oh, I’m so glad I found out about this,” she says.
The Dahmans also act as ambassadors.
“We try to encourage people that the courses are diversified and extremely affordable,” says Joe. “Some courses, you may sign up and be unsure about. But once you take it you say, ‘Wow!’”
As a former art teacher, Joe has especially enjoyed art classes. Paulette raves about a class in which she learned to make pierogis from scratch in LCCC’s culinary facility. And both have taken advantage of the center’s trips, going on cruises, touring museums, attending theater performances and exploring everywhere from the top of the Terminal Tower to caves. And it’s not just the education; it’s also the relationships, says Krupa.
“We have a lot of trips where people can meet friends and make acquaintances and develop relationships, which is really important,” Krupa says. “There’s a big loneliness factor for people this age, so it’s important to increase opportunities for them to have interaction after their work years.”
Classes, which don’t include tests or grades, are held Monday through Saturday, offering flexibility to find something that fits your interests and schedules.
“It makes you feel like you’re not done yet,” Paulette says. “It whets your appetite for more.”