NEW MSCN HEADER (With border)
Issue No. 12
February  2011
The MSCN Newsletter
Photo of heart-shaped cookies

Welcome to your February newsletter! 


The days are getting longer now -- but will Puxatawny Phil see his shadow on Groundhog Day and bring us six more weeks of winter?

MSCN Applauded in Downeast Magazine

We are pleased to note that the Maine Senior College Network is spotlighted in the February issue of Downeast Magazine.
Programs for retirees in general, and Maine Senior College in particular, topped Downeast Magazine's list of "20 Reasons to Retire to Maine," in this month's edition!

Keep the Great Newsletter Submissions Coming!

This month's issue features articles and photos from Penobscot Valley Senior College, Coastal Senior College, Gold LEAF Institute, Sunrise Senior College, as well as poetry from Augusta Senior College.

We've also included information about the Maine Senior College Compass, an online tool for senior college boards to use to easily share ideas and information via online discussions. The Compass allows senior college board members from Wells to Ft. Kent and from Farmington to Machias to collaborate without ever leaving home. Take a look, and try it out.

We're compiling a database of Maine Senior College instructors who are willing to teach at more than one senior college. Please share the information on the Instructors Bureau that is in this newsletter with your Senior College's faculty.

Better Choices, Better Health™
And, we've included information on Better Choices, Better Health™, an online workshop that enables adults who have an ongoing health condition to find ways to manage the condition by creating their own step-by-step plan. The program is available at no charge to Maine residents until June of this year.


Kali Lightfoot

Executive Director
Maine Senior College Network
Penobscot Valley Senior College and Bangor Public Library Collaborate

A partnership between Penobscot Valley Senior College and the Bangor Public Library on two events dealing with courts made January a lot livelier than it would have been. On January 20, PVSC offered a one-day event, "Access to Justice," at the Bangor Library, presented by Barbara McDade, Director of the library, and Valerie Osborne, District Consultant for the Northeastern Maine Library District and former Director of the Old Town Library. Their topic was the tricky question of providing legal information to the public -- the need is there, but the importance of providing correct information is overriding. The librarians discussed the new website, Help Me Law, and their collaboration with the Maine Court System and various legal groups.

Because she had worked with Diane Cutler, Chair of PVSC's One Day Event Committee, in planning this event, Barbara McDade turned to PVSC to provide publicity and support for a library program on January 6, when Judge Andrew Mead of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court spoke on To Kill a Mockingbird, the selection for the library's Bangor Reads program this year. Judge Mead discussed the need for lawyers to defend unpopular groups and causes. A large part of the audience consisted of Senior College members, who, in addition to Judge Mead's talk, enjoyed a southern meal, complete with fried chicken and sweet potato pie, served by the library.

- Submitted by Christina Diebold, Penobscot Valley Senior College
The Maine Senior College Compass: A Way To Share Ideas Across the MSCN

Compass illustrationWouldn't it be great to be able to share ideas, ask questions, gather information, or bounce ideas off other senior college board members? We've developed the "Maine Senior College Compass," an online communication tool that allows you to do just that! Check out the Maine Senior College Compass to see what has already been shared.

If you are a Senior College board member and you would like to contribute to the Maine Senior College Compass, please send your name, email address and the name of your senior college to Anne Cardale at Once your account has been created you can initiate discussions and add your thoughts to ongoing discussions. You will also be able to edit pages and upload documents. If you are not a board member and would like to have something posted on the Compass, please contact a member of your Maine Senior College board to make this request.

Introducing the New Kid On the Block at Coastal Senior College
Photo of Ellen Goldsmith, Coastal Senior College

Meet Ellen Goldsmith, the newest instructor at Coastal Senior College.

From veteran to novice... the celebration of Coastal Senior College instructors continues. In its fall catalog CSC was delighted to highlight its most veteran teacher, Scott Creighton. For this month's MSCN newsletter Coastal Senior College presents its newest instructor, Ellen Goldsmith. She will be teaching "What is a Poem?" -- her first class for CSC.

"The way to learn more about something is to teach it," says Ellen. And so, she anticipates learning as much from her students as they learn from her. This collaborative approach will undoubtedly prove stimulating. She notes that this is not going to be a course about writing poetry but about experiencing and appreciating it.

Ellen's poetry interest and background are impressive. She is the author of two chapbooks -- Such Distances and No Pine Tree in This Forest Is Perfect, which won the Hudson Valley Writers' Center 1997 chapbook contest. The contest judge described it as an "incandescent collection." Her poems have appeared in numerous publications, including:  Bangor Metro, California Quarterly, the Kerf, Off the Coast, and Wolf Moon Journal.

When asked what led to her interest in writing poems, Ellen seemed a bit perplexed. Having written poetry for more than 30 years, she had probably not given that question much thought for quite some time. She did say she found in it "a way to explore personal experiences and the world at large." Her mother was her first audience and thought her poems were great. Her first experience in the poetry workshop world was humbling. One person's poem was more accomplished than the next, and she saw that she could be intimidated or excited by the opportunity to grow. She continues an interest in poetry workshops and, since retiring here, has attended several in Maine.

Ellen brings a varied background to the teaching experience. She is a professor emerita of The City University of New York, where she taught developmental reading. That experience led her to believe in the importance of early childhood interventions and to working with parents, educating and motivating them to participate in reading with and for their children.

So, why did Ellen agree to teach for CSC?  After all, CSC's  instructors are unpaid. They spend many hours preparing for classes. They never have an idea of who will show up or what the backgrounds of participants may be. The answer turned out to be quite simple:  people asked her if she would do it.

- Submitted by Kay Liss, Coastal Senior College
Calling All Instructors:
Register With the MSCN Instructors Bureau

Illustration of teacher at blackboardThe Maine Senior College Network is developing a list of instructors who are willing to travel around Maine to deliver their courses. If you are an instructor and wish to add your name to the MSCN Instructors Bureau, please send the following information to Kyle Allen at

-   Your name and the name of the senior college at which you've taught.
-   A short description of the course(s) or one-session lecture(s) you have taught at a senior college.
-    Provide a clear sense of the distance you are willing to travel around the state.
-  IMPORTANT! Make sure that you also provide your contact information including: phone, email and physical address.

We will post your name, course description and travel radius on the Maine Senior College Compass. We will not post your personal contact information unless you state that you would like us to do this. We will pass on your contact information when we receive a direct request from a Senior College Board member.

Curriculum Development at Gold LEAF Institute: A Collective Process


Lightbulb IllustrationCurriculum development at Gold LEAF -- as at many of the senior colleges around the state -- is a collective process. Classes, quite literally, are not developed out of some notion of what people ought to be pursuing, or merely by what's available, but defined by the people who will pursue them.


To be sure, Gold LEAF has a curriculum committee, a group that screens, coordinates, and organizes the ideas of the membership, but the committee doesn't so much create classes as follow the leads provided them by folks who make requests. Those requests come in several ways: from general meetings of the membership; from suggestions made on class evaluation forms; from people who have an idea for a class to teach; or from members who call or write to the Gold LEAF office.


The system works because everyone knows they're welcome to submit ideas -- and that their ideas will be carefully weighed and, quite likely, adopted. It's a process built almost entirely on ideas that come from the group and each season's course list reflects the interests of the people who will take the classes. Most of them go, because the members themselves promote them -- indeed, the members are often the teachers.   


- Submitted by Dick Matthews, Gold LEAF Institute

Sunrise Senior College Welcomes the Jabberwock

Last spring Sunrise Senior College asked its faithful newsletter readers to help find a suitable name for the then nameless newsletter, and just to add a little incentive to their creative genius, framed the request as a contest.

Thanks to all who contributed ideas -- there were so many clever and colorful suggestions (not at all surprising from this creative college!). The SSC board felt one in particular typified Sunrise Senior College, and that was the winning entry submitted by Cynthia Huntington. Congratulations, Cynthia! Her suggestion of Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky, from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, together with her excellent recommendation that SSC include a mascot -- a senior Jabberwock reading the SSC newsletter -- won the contest.

Photo of Starr Kopper holding Jabberwock drawingMuch thanks also to Starr Kopper (pictured above, holding an early sketch of the Jabberwock) whom Cynthia tapped to create the mascot. Fantastic job, Starr!

And, a big THANK YOU to Chris Caston, Cynthia's nephew and talented graphic artist at the Machias Valley News Observer, who digitized Starr's paper drawing.

This creative collaboration is so typical of SSC, as is the Jabberwocky namesake: a literary work that doesn't take itself too seriously -- perfect for senior college!

After the contest Cynthia was asked how she came up with her ingenious suggestion. She said that after reading about the contest, she was grooming dogs in her shop, pondering an appropriate name. "I'm a big reader," explained Cynthia "and I was trying to think of things that were relative to the reality of us... and I got frustrated and I guess my mind just switched to silly mode." That's when the idea struck her right out of the blue. "Jabberwocky, a bit of literary flair, but at the same time, a ton of fun, which our SSC group exemplifies."

The board of Sunrise Senior College couldn't agree more. And, for those of you who aren't familiar with this classic nonsense poem of Carroll's, here it is from Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, 1872:

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

"Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!"

He took his vorpal sword in hand:
Long time the manxome foe he sought --
So rested he by the Tumtum tree,
And stood awhile in thought.

And, as in uffish thought he stood,
The Jabberwock, with eyes of flame,
Came whiffling through the tulgey wood,
And burbled as it came!

One, two! One, two! And through and through
The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
He left it dead, and with its head
He went galumphing back.

"And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'
He chortled in his joy.

This is not to imply that SSC is a lot of nonsense, only that the senior college strives to create something new out of members' collective experience, much like Lewis Carroll created new words by "scrumping" together familiar words, and has a lot of fun in the process.

The Jabberwock itself, SSC's new mascot, is the creative invention of Cynthia's good friend, artist Starr Kopper, whom Cynthia turned to when the demands of building her new studio and gallery, dictated that she farm out the task of sketching the dragon.

Starr accepted the challenge and set to work, utilizing her background as a volunteer guide at the National Zoo in Washington, DC, and 25 years teaching art. "Children's literature is one of my passions," confessed Starr, who pictured Smaug, the dragon from J. R. R. Tolkien's children classic, The Hobbit, when she was designing the Jabberwock. "I hoped that I could make the dragon a combination of humor and ferocity," she said, explaining that she was seeking a "reptilian smirk" in her creation.

So engaging is Starr's rendition of the Jabberwock, that folks shouldn't be surprised to see its reptilian smirk showing up on SSC t-shirts and tote-bags.

- Submitted by Christine E. Laurel, Sunrise Senior College
The Poet's Corner


short days and long nights

and today the car started

but nowhere to go


- by Jonathan Lepoff, Augusta Senior College


The Gray Raven

All Corvus in North America are black, Audubon declares with confidence. Yet there he is, in unmistakable gray, cawvorting among his fellows, all attired in proper hue. I wonder if he senses being a bird of scorn, or if he's admired for his distinctive garb by the young ravenettes. Perhaps he's never been told he's a non-conforming crow; maybe because he resides on a college campus he feels called to make a non-fashion statement. Some may say he is an imposter or an illegal alien, presuming to enjoy the benefits of the native born. Just maybe he is oblivious to his oddity and his only concern is helping his miss-matched mate tend the ravenous chicks back in the nest, who, whether sprouting feathers black, gray or white, are all the same to him. My guess is that he takes quiet pride in being one of those anomalies of nature who test whether, by deviation from the norm, he's endowed with a form of avian advantage.


- by Charles Acker, Augusta Senior College

Better Choices, Better Health: Free Online Workshop Available

Better Choices, Better Health logoAre you an adult with an ongoing health problem? Better Choices, Better Health™, based on Stanford University's widely tested Chronic Disease Self-Management Program, is an online workshop that helps you learn how to set your own goals, make step-by-step plans to manage your health condition and develop the confidence you need to improve your life! 

- Available anywhere you have a computer and an Internet connection
- Log on for about 2 hours each week (at your convenience) for 6 weeks
- Free to Maine residents until June 2011
- Sign up today at

Funding for Better Choices, Better Health is provided by the Atlantic Philanthropies and National Council on Aging, to the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Elder Services.
In This Issue
Penobscot Valley Senior College and Bangor Public Library Collaborate
The Maine Senior College Compass: A Way To Share Ideas Across the MSCN
Introducing the New Kid On the Block at Coastal Senior College
Calling All Instructors: Register With the MSCN Instructors Bureau
Curriculum Development at Gold LEAF Institute: A Collective Process
Sunrise Senior College Welcomes the Jabberwock
The Poet's Corner
Better Choices, Better Health: Free Online Workshop Available
Don't forget to go to the Maine Senior College Network website to find out what is happening around the state!

Maine Senior College Network 
Maine Senior College Network

Acadia Senior College

Augusta Senior College
Bridgton Senior College

Coastal Senior College

Downeast Senior College

Gold LEAF Institute


Lewiston-Auburn Senior College

Midcoast Senior College

Osher Lifelong Learning Institute

Penobscot Valley Senior College


Senior College UMaine Hutchinson Center

St. John Valley Senior College

Sunrise Senior College 
Western Mountains Senior College

York County Senior College
The Maine Senior College Network Display Boards are available to any senior college that would like to borrow them. For more information, check out the link below.

About Us
Maine Senior College Network
P.O. Box 9300
Portland, Maine 04104-9300
(207)780-4317 (fax)

Kali Lightfoot
Executive Director
Anne Cardale
Director of Operations & Communications
Director of Conferences

Kyle Allen
Trouble opening our pdfs?

Adobe Reader Icon

Download Adobe Reader by clicking the button above.
Please submit your articles and photographs to Kyle Allen at

Deadline:  Second week of each month for the following month's edition