WHO WE ARE
One goal of The Lark is to feature articles about LLC personalities, the people who make LLC such a successful organization.
Mike and Kathy Webster
Education - Mike was raised in Bethesda, Maryland and attended Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA and graduated with a degree in Industrial Engineering. Kathy was raised in Allentown, Pa and graduated from Allentown Hospital School of Nursing. We found each other through a blind date and married in 1969 near the end of Mike’s University time.
Career - Mike was hired by GE on their Management Training Program, which led him to Lynn, MA and Columbia, SC. Subsequent changes led him to KitchenAid in Troy, Ohio and Whirlpool in Benton, Harbor, MI where he was involved in quality improvement and new product development as well as extensive international business. Kathy worked as a nurse in each location, first as an Operating Room Nurse, then as a Nurse Educator, and finally as a Hospice Nurse for the last 20 years of her career. During this time, Kathy achieved her Bachelor and Master’s degree in Nursing.
Family - Our son Matthew was born in Columbia, SC and now resides in Lincoln, RI with his wife Eve Marie and son Everett who just turned 14. We have been here in RI for 13 years because of them.
Travel - While in RI, most winters we have escaped to a warmer climate and traveled almost totally independently to Turkey, Spain, Morocco, Panama, Cuba, Italy, Ecuador, and the Galapagos and have enjoyed them all.
Hobbies and Interests - We began sailing while living in SC and continue to enjoy sailing to this day. Mike has been an inveterate sailboat racer ever since, and both have sailed internationally. Kathy began acrylic painting as a new LLC member and enjoys it immensely. We enjoy live theater and attend many plays throughout the year. We both volunteer for WaterFire - you can find Mike at most fires leading a torch parade, and we are still active tourists of the area, often with our grandson.
LLC Experience - We joined LLC in 2010 when Kathy enrolled on Plein Air at the urging of a longtime friend. Kathy was a Member at Large of the LLC Board as well as a member of the Membership Committee prior to both of us assuming the lead role on the Curriculum Committee in 2016. Kathy has led or co-led painting classes for the last 4 years, and we have together led the Theater Conversations class for at least 6 years.
We are delighted to be members of LLC as it was a terrific way to meet people as new arrivals to RI and because we love to learn new things and be exposed to so many new ideas outside of our careers. Our hours spent with our LLC friends have been so very enriching.
To know us well, you should know that….
Kathy is an accomplished cook and makes the best chocolate cake ever!
Mike loves to walk on the Blackstone River bike path.
You have all seen the requests that the Curriculum Committee makes for members to coordinate a course. Here are the thoughts of several very active LLC coordinators on the personal benefits of coordinating.
Joy – Coordinating a Class for LLC
Linda and Sam Shamoon
One quiet morning, Linda Shamoon received a surprise phone call from LLC’s Curriculum Committee: Would she consider coordinating a course on Classical music? She hesitated for only a few seconds. Linda had had an extensive musical education growing up but had not done much with it as an adult. Suddenly, here was an opportunity to share that knowledge and passion. “Yes,” she said. “Yes, I will do it!” Her decision to coordinate LLC’s Concerts and Conversations class allowed Linda to reengage with Classical music in a new way, to devote time to a lifelong but neglected love, and to share that love with others.
During the past several semesters, however, Linda has been co-coordinating “Luminous Things, Ways of Reading and Enjoying Poetry,” a course that evolved, in part, from her career as a professor of literature and writing at the University of Rhode Island. In fact, all of the courses that Linda has led were as a co-coordinator, which is another delightful way to develop an LLC course.
Linda explained that while co-developing and co-leading an LLC course, you go deeper into the subject, and you form new friendships or deepen existing one.
“’Luminous Things’ helps to keep poetry as a part of my everyday life. As the semester goes on, we become closer to material and we study deeper together.”
The coordinator experience has brought Linda closer to literature, allowed her to meet new people, and to see things differently. The collaborative learning model opens the mind to a variety of interpretations, to learn what other people are thinking and to find ways to keep participants engaged and bring them into the conversation – “different from lecturing. It opens doors and offers opportunities to make a contribution.”
Linda shared her experience with one class member who said he didn’t know much about poetry, but his wife thought he would like the course. As coordinator, Linda observed his growing engagement each week. “Always a joy!”
In addition to the music and poetry courses, Linda has also co-coordinated other offerings: “Ticket to the Opera,” “Just for the Fun of It: An LLC Course Development Workshop” and art appreciation classes. Coordinating classes has been a pleasure, a gratifying social and educational joy.
Sam Shamoon also shared his experience of choosing to act as a coordinator for LLC. When he first joined LLC, he was intrigued by the courses and the participatory format. He joined a course on “The Joy of Coordinating.” His initial task was to list topics he might be interested in coordinating. He felt the prime topic for him was his profession; he had been a city planner for the city of Providence.
So – he designed an offering on cities! He based the curriculum on the book Making Places Special, which focused on ten cities and how city planning contributed to their growth and success. Sam designed the class around the book. He asked each of the participants to take on one chapter and use it as a prompt for a presentation – 10 chapters, ten students – the course ran itself. Sam’s pleasure came from his own learning as well as the interaction of the group. At the end of the course, he told the class, “I learned as much as you did.” Since then, he has coordinated six or seven cities courses.
Sam emphasized that you do not have to be an expert in a topic to coordinate a course. “You learn so much and bring value to the LLC world.”
One of the most enjoyable takeaways that I have experienced from being a coordinator at LLC is the friendships that I have made with my fellow coordinator(s) and participants in the classes. As we all know, the opportunity to make new friends is wonderful.
Coordinating also allows one to be creative in working on the syllabus and protocol for the course and the administrative details that are all important for course presentation.
However, the most rewarding aspect of being a coordinator is the interaction among the classmates when the course is in session. It has been my experience that people really enjoy learning about the course topic, exchanging thoughts and ideas and leaving each session with some additional insight and knowledge about our wonderful world.