Create beadwork or stained glass. Learn how to knit, crochet or embroider. Discover the pleasures of poetry. Learn how to search for your ancestors.
These are some of the in-person learning opportunities on offer this spring as the Retired Teachers Chapter’s Brooklyn section welcomes retired members to Si Beagle Learning Center courses at its borough office in downtown Brooklyn.
The Brooklyn RTC section was not able to resume in-person learning as quickly as its counterparts in some of the other boroughs because of a rewiring project in its building in the fall. “We tried to come back last September and we had everything in place to go back in-house,” said Evelyn Dorell, one of four coordinators.
She and her fellow coordinators, all retired teachers, are thrilled to have retirees back this spring. Of the roughly 9,200 Brooklyn retirees, 34% left service less than five years ago, 28% retired five to 10 years ago, 29% left 10-20 years ago, and 9% retired more than 20 years ago. Most were teachers (71%) or paraprofessionals (16%).
Even operas from around the world — one of the section’s most popular online classes — will have an in-person component this spring. The class includes a visit in April to a “La Bohème” rehearsal at the Metropolitan Opera.
For retirees who do not live locally or prefer Zoom, the section continues to offer dozens of remote classes and seminars. “You can come in, do remote or do both,” coordinator Cheryl Richardson said.
Eurika Oliver said she and the other Brooklyn section coordinators appreciate instructors who made the transition to Zoom during COVID.
Zoom classes were a lifeline for members who were confined to their homes during the pandemic, the coordinators said. “We really got to know the people much more,” Richardson said.
Participants in Zoom classes look out for one another. “Someone will say, ‘I didn’t see so-and-so at the first class,’ and they check up on each other, and it becomes a very supporting, loving community,” coordinator Felicia Armetta said.
The Brooklyn section plans to ease into other in-person activities it offered regularly before the pandemic. Plans are in the works for bus trips, a trek to the Amish country in Pennsylvania for quilting fabrics, and “Show and Schmooze” parties to celebrate what the retirees learn and create in Si Beagle courses.
For now, the Brooklyn section coordinators are focused on developing new courses and spreading the word that members can take up to five courses a semester for a nominal fee.
“We’re always on a roll to do new things,” Richardson said.