By Jessica Travis
Janice Peters, chair of the Schoharie County Home of Ongoing Learning program (S.C.H.O.O.L.) which partners with SUNY Cobleskill, was honored by the Cobleskill Rotary Club as the 2014 Citizen of the Year for her exceptional volunteerism and community service. Peters was presented with a plaque at the Rotary Club’s July 9, 2014 meeting which is given to a nominated member within the Club’s association.
This will be Peters’ third year involved with the S.C.H.O.O.L. program at SUNY Cobleskill. The enjoyment of participating in a program similar to S.C.H.O.O.L. at SUNY Potsdam, paired alongside a determination to meet new people after relocating to the community, was the driving force which motivated Peters to contact SUNY Cobleskill’s Office of Professional and Continuing Education (P.A.C.E.) and present the idea of developing a program centered around individuals in the later stages of their lives. What originated as a simple suggestion has prospered into a campus and community partnership which has provided 120 residents of the Schoharie County area with an outlet for education and enjoyment.
At the heart of the S.C.H.O.O.L. program is the emphasis on creating, thinking, exercising, and socializing for individuals who are considered “Third Age” adults – post family and career people. Members participating in the S.C.H.O.O.L. program pay a small, yearly membership fee to attend daytime, non-credit classes that are geared towards being highly engaging and hands-on, with no tests or papers presented. “Political Music of the Sixties,” “Organizing Your Home,” “3D Glass Art,” and “Basic Computer Understanding,” are just a small handful of the several diverse course options which are available to S.C.H.O.O.L. members. All classes are taught by volunteers, last an hour and are divided in terms of location, with around half of the courses located on the SUNY Cobleskill campus and the other half located throughout Schoharie County. The model for this program comes from the Road Scholar, formerly Elderhostel, program which is headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts. There are 44 similar programs, partnered with colleges in New York and over 400 programs across the United States and Canada.
Peters stresses that though she can take credit for bringing the initial suggestion of developing the S.C.H.O.O.L. program at SUNY Cobleskill, it is the combined efforts of the SUNY Cobleskill campus, the P.A.C.E. office and the volunteers who have dedicated their time and efforts to S.C.H.O.O.L. that make this program such a success. “It’s been the work of many people both at the college and from our member volunteers that has allowed S.C.H.O.O.L. to flourish, starting with the P.A.C.E. office,” remarks Peters. “The college has been so accepting and the members have been both excited about the opportunities and generous with their time and talents.”