The Inside Scoop - for Members Only
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Welcome to our ninth edition of 
The Inside Scoop , our electronic 
newsletter  f or members only. 
Please  enjoy this issue,  and  share 
your  f eedback by emailing 

Get to know your Board of Directors

We're fortunate to have so many dedicated members serving on our  Board of Directors. This month, we asked the Chair of the Volunteer Committee, Steve Shapiro, to tell us a little about himself.  Steve also served as an instructor, having taught "American Public Education: Are We on the Right Track?" and "Numbers and the News" in prior semesters.

Shortly after the midnight of Halloween many years ago, I was born in New Jersey where I spent most of my childhood. Since my closest friend was a Yankees fan, I chose to root for the Mets who were always the underdog in those early years. One of the most formative influences on my childhood was the Boy Scouts. I spent five years with a very special troop which camped 12 months of the year and where I learned many outdoor survival skills. After my first year of high school, my family moved to the Boston area and I became a Red Sox fan (many years before the curse of the Bambino was broken). I grew up in a very academic-oriented family. My father was an engineer and my mother was a computer scientist (when there were very few women in STEM fields). My three sisters were academic superstars (1st or 2nd in their high school class) so I was the outlier in that regard. My sisters complained that I was given special treatment as the only son and the child with a hearing impairment.

Steve with Einstein at Griffith Observatory.

I studied Economics at Tufts University and then went straight to MIT to study business management. So at the age of 22, I finished graduate school (without a clue about how the world works) and came to Washington, DC to join a major management consulting firm. My wife, who I met at Tufts, had come to DC a year earlier to start law school. I spent the next 25 years in the private sector helping to manage several major tech-centric companies including GTE and Bell Atlantic (who merged to form Verizon) and SAIC. Early in my career, I focused on corporate finance but over time my responsibilities evolved towards strategic planning, product management and marketing.

When the "dot com" implosion occurred, I decided to become a high school math teacher and was accepted into a career switcher cohort sponsored by Fairfax County. My children told me I was crazy to make this career switch (and perhaps they were right) but it turned out to be a very good transition for me. I spent the next 14 years torturing teenagers with math homework, developing a number of enhancements to the curriculum, and co-chairing the math department for several years. I also taught the new required Economics and Personal Finance course.

Almost four years ago, I retired from the school system and became more involved in several volunteer activities. For two years, I volunteered at an elementary school in Arlington helping with the science enrichment program. That is where I met George Pick who told me about Encore Learning. I joined Encore Learning three years ago and have taken numerous courses on a wide variety of topics. I am also on the special events committee and participate in several Encore Learning clubs. I love meeting other Encore Learning members who have some really interesting personal backgrounds. For me, the intellectual and social engagement opportunities from Encore Learning have become a major part of my post-career life.

Steve and Linda at the March for Science

Outside of Encore Learning, I continue to volunteer in several ways. I serve as a tax counselor with the AARP Tax-Aide program, provide assistance to about 30 Afghan refugee families, volunteer for local election campaign efforts and travel to interesting places around the world. I am scheduled for an Arctic expedition with National Geographic in June where we will tour northern Norway, the East coast of Greenland and then spend a few days in Iceland. I also enjoying exploring nature, attempting to become a better gardener, collecting art and reading for pleasure.

-- Steve Shapiro, Chair, Volunteer Committee

Special Events Survey

Our Special Events Committee always works hard to find you the best tours the area has to offer. They'd like some feedback from you, and they are also looking for a few new members to join them. Please take a minute to complete their quick, six question online survey. Your input will be used to help plan future events.

Non-Fiction Book Club Update

At our January meeting, attended by 28 members in spite of the freezing rain, we discussed the book, Thank You for Being Late by Thomas Friedman.  As always a lively discussion ensued, with varying opinions on the merit of the book.
Our next meeting will be held on March 12.  The book chosen for this gathering is, Hero of the Empire: the Boer War, a Daring Escape and the Making of Winston Churchill.

The Encore Learning Non-fiction Book Club meets every other month on the second Tuesday of the month in the afternoon. The meetings are divided into two segments: the first part of the meeting is spent discussing the book we have read for that month, and the second to making recommendations and discussing books we might like to read for our next gathering. If you would like to join the Club, please email the office.

One comment often heard is, "I have read some wonderful books I never would have known about if it weren't for this group".

-- Submitted by Pat Chatten, Club Co-Coordinator

Name Badges are Coming Back!

Our all volunteer Name Badge Task Force is taking on the job of getting new name badges out to all current members. We are asking that you wear it to all Encore Learning activities. We are bringing back this practice at the request of many of our members. Why name badges, you ask? Here are a few of the main reasons:
  • A name badge personalizes you and invites conversation. It fosters the kind of friendly interaction that many appreciate about Encore Learning.
  • It is easy to forget names. Name badges provide a quick at-a-glance name recall for the next time you meet.
  • Name badges easily identify Encore Learning members in classroom venues, at special events, or when trying to locate your fellow members at a new location.
Special thanks to our dedicated volunteers who are making happen:
Sharon Bisdee, Pat Chatten, and   Steve Spangler. Look for your name badge arriving in March via USPS.

More News and Photos

The Ethnic Lunch Club met at RusUz in January 2018. Thanks to Carolyn Francis for sharing these fun photos:

Staff Corner

February is the month for valentines and, unfortunately, the flu and its variants. We hope all of you are faring well this season.
Over 150 people turned out for our Spring 2018 Course Preview at Wakefield High School earlier this month. We featured APS School Superintendent Patrick Murphy and presentations by 26 of our instructors during the formal program. Evidently the treats on hand were delectable - many thanks go to our Membership Committee for their hospitality.
We encourage you to   view the spring lineup and register nowWe are offering 35 great courses this spring - a good mix of new choices and perennial favorites. Several are filled to capacity, but we still have seats available in over 25 courses Don't let a semester go by without an academic course. Learn something new every day!

We greatly appreciate those who indicate their willingness to serve as Class Aide as part of their course registration process. The Class Aide committee will contact registrants directly to fill these positions. All selected Class Aides attend training before courses begin.
Reminder: our office is temporarily located in space on the third floor of the Syphax Center. The construction makes things a little chaotic at times so always call ahead for an appointment. All of our contact information remains unchanged.

Connecting Friends with Encore Learning

We're often referred to as the "best kept secret in Arlington." New members join mostly because they hear about Encore Learning from a friend.  When joining online, new members may enter a "Referred by" name. We look forward to thanking you here in the newsletter - see below.

Bring friends to our  "Meet the Speaker" series at Arlington Central Library. These events are open to the public and a great way for prospective members to learn more about us.

Anyone can do it! When you simply like our Facebook page or share our Facebook posts and events to your social network, it's a huge help.

Like us on Facebook


  • Volunteers are always needed. If you'd like to get more involved, please email
  • Check the calendar on our website for our office hours.
Welcome New Members

In January 2018, 30  new members joined Encore Learning. Please be sure to give these folks a warm welcome. 

Martha Alliston
Gloria Briskin
Howard Briskin
Susan Cherney
Michael Christofferson
Deborah Cureton
Sherrill Farley
Janet Fedak
William Fogarty
Michael Folkman
Carolyn Francis
Gail Ginsburg
Mickey Gustafson
Hermann Habermann
Kenneth Hill
Henriette Kellum
Kethshara Khlok
Margaret Kilfoyle
Gerald Laporte
Reuel Launey
Paula Lonergan Graham
Sally Mahoney
Christopher Mitchell
Lois Mitchell
Joan Moser
Patrick Saccomandi
Garry Sauner
Peter Stickles
Ricky Weiss
Greer Woods

And a huge Thank You to the following members and instructors for referring friends and family:

Gloria Briskin
Jeanne Broyhill
Barbara Croissant
Nancy DeMarco
Julie Gentry
Bud Hensgen
Thomas Kilfoyle
Janet Macidull
Lois Mitchell
Bob Stone
Karl VanNewkirk

Please email the office with any corrections.

Photos, Photos, Photos...

We all love looking at them and it seems we can never get enough here in the office. Please share your photos of Encore Learning activities with us. The higher the resolution of the photo, the better (1 MB or higher). Shots taken on your mobile phone are great! Just email them to us and if we use your photos, we will make sure to acknowledge you as the photographer. We can't use thumbnails, though, so please check your photo size settings prior to emailing.

Don't Want to Wait for the Next Edition of The Inside Scoop?


Donations are Always Welcome

Encore Learning is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. Any donation is a charitable contribution deductible from income tax to the full extent permitted by law. Members, friends and organizations wishing to support Encore Learning may direct contributions to our  General Fund  or to our  Arlington Youth Scholarship .

We hope you enjoyed this edition of  The Inside Scoop . If you would like to submit an article or share some photos of members participating in Encore Learning activities, please email Beth Dowd: .
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