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In the Spotlight

by Jim Worsham

OLLI long-time-member and reporter, Sylvia Manheim is enjoying travels and watching her grandson compete on DWTS! Here’s to many
more exciting years. Thank you, Sylvia!

The Education and Curriculum Committee: Playing OLLI Chess

It’s like chess, let’s call it “OLLI Chess,” and there’s a new game every quarter. Reigning grand masters Pat Wrenn and Karen McDonough, the super-talented co-chairs of  OLLI’s Education and Curriculum Committee, share their winning secrets of the game.
First they clear the board and set up the opposing pieces, namely time slots and classes. Long ago, topics were considered and committee members invited subject matter experts to teach a course. Candidates were usually flattered with the interest, but when they learned there was no remuneration for the position, many declined. The competition is more popular now and instructors often make the first move by submitting their own ideas for classes. The game is on.
Pat and Karen are always thinking several moves ahead and actually work the schedule at least four months in advance. Before making a defensive move, they review each proposed class to decide if it is right for OLLI based on their experience with similar classes. Will it be a duplication of an existing class? Is it timely and appropriate for OLLI students? How many people are likely to enroll? Is a classroom available?
Sometimes the rules of the game allow them to consult with the full EWG Committee, comprising eleven individuals who share their input. Many potentially good classes get thumbs down because they don’t have an open space to make a move.   Just like in Chess, Pat and Karen have to make their move to an empty space after analyzing possibilities like which campus, which room, which day of the week, for how many weeks, and what time of day. Classes are offered at the CSULB campus, the Jewish Community Center, downtown Long Beach on Pine Avenue, Leisure World in Seal Beach, and American Gold Star Manor in west Long Beach. Pat moves the game pieces (classes) around on an impressive color-coded Microsoft Word template that she developed.


More Volunteers

by Karin Covey

Always strategizing, Karen helps Pat prepare agendas for the monthly committee meetings that they co-facilitate. Karen says her job is “to do everything that Pat doesn’t do.” They consult each other several times a week to coordinate all of the committee activities. Holes in the schedule are often filled by Pat with special events that require extra handling.
To keep all instructors playing by the same rules, Karen leads an Instructor Orientation each year. Her presentation uses PowerPoint, and each new instructor is given a rule book, known as an instructor manual. Every quarterly game is different, and Karen notes that the manual requires occasional updates. Instructors are encouraged to use student feedback forms and are occasionally visited by team members.
Pat oversees the preparation of class descriptions for The SUN and notifies volunteer editor Rick Adams about new classes that warrant special attention in upcoming
issues. Adhering to constant deadlines, reminders and checklists, while scheduling almost ninety classes each quarter, Pat coordinates with Becky Low in the office. Becky keeps score by laying everything out for The SUN. Then Karen edits class descriptions and Pat edits the schedule.
Finally, Becky sends The SUN to the printer as the Committee seeks another win. The game ends when the bright yellow issue of The SUN comes out like clockwork and close to 1,800 students pick up their copies. Checkmate!
Chalk up another victory for Pat and Karen, who are truly grand masters. Their prowess stems from their education and administration resumes and the sacrifice of a lot of family time. They offer a shout-out to cheering fans,
students, and instructors who are always so understanding and professional regarding unexpected changes, especially room availability. It takes a team to win this game.