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Learning and Connecting - Cathedral Village

Learning and Connecting - Cathedral Village

Forget the old rhyme, “No more pencils, no more books, no more teacher’s dirty looks.” At Village
College, the continuing education program at Cathedral Village, the pencils are sharp, there are only good books, and the teachers and students are friends and neighbors.
Cathedral Village is a premier continuing care retirement community in Philadelphia, Pa. The Village College has been keeping the community’s academic residents engaged in learning for more than 18 years.


 Operated and taught entirely by residents, the College offers a dynamic and diverse array of courses throughout the year—and includes no tests and no grades. Few residents know the ins and outs of the Village College better than those who have served as Dean. This distinguished group of volunteers
includes Edward “Ted” Shakespeare, Richard “Dick” Schaphorst and Emily “Emmy” Starr.
Ted Shakespeare helped co-found the Village College shortly after moving to Cathedral Village with his wife in 1996. He has served as Dean of the College more than once and as Provost. He also holds the distinction of having taught more courses than any other resident, with his class offerings ranging from science to his personal favorite: Shakespeare.

Now 90, Ted still teaches every quarter. His Shakespeare courses in particular are a big draw largely because of the compelling soliloquies the former college actor delivers. However, he also focuses on student participation. “People bring their years of wisdom and experience to these classes, and it really
enriches the experience for all of us,” he explained.

For Ted, a former educator with degrees in biology and embryology, moving to Cathedral Village has meant continuing to grow as he grows older. “When we arrived here almost 18 years ago, my wife and I were quite active,” he said. “We are not as active now, but we are still involved in this stimulating

The outgoing Dean of Village College, Dick Schaphorst, has also thrived in Cathedral Village’s intellectual environment—much to his surprise. “I wasn’t initially in favor of moving here, but I came because my wife has some health challenges,” he admitted. “I have been so pleased; I have so many opportunities to be active and to socialize with interesting peers.”

Dick has served as Dean of the College for the last two years. A professional engineer, he has also taught several technical courses on topics ranging from wind energy to fracking. He’s proud to help advance the College’s focus on courses taught by residents for residents. “We are now attracting teachers because of the College, and these are high-caliber educators—published poets, authors and historians,” he said.

As the incoming Dean of Village College, Emmy Starr is looking forward to continuing the impressive legacy her predecessors have built. Having already served as Provost, Emmy is familiar with the amount of work that goes into running the College and is excited about filling the top post.
“The process of putting together our courses every term is very thoughtful, and we have so many wonderful options,” Emmy noted. She went on to describe courses in an incredible array of subject areas, ranging from constitutional law to the classics of literature.

Much like her peers, Emmy has thrived since moving to Cathedral Village. “I know I have more friends now than I ever did before,” she said. “I’m not a doctor, but I think socializing is great for your mental health.”

At Cathedral Village’s Village College, students and teachers alike look forward to the start of each term—to new teachers, new books and new connections. They are  loving learning, and they are certainly loving life.

Published: July 2014

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