I met recently with Ron Leavesley, president of CLL and the Friends of the Kinnelon Library, and Carol Sventy, CLL Registrar and vice president of the Friends of the Kinnelon Library, to learn more.
CB: Ron, how did Kinnelon's Center for Lifelong Learning get started?
RL: It all started in the Fall of 1993 when a small group of Kinnelon residents got together with the Kinnelon Library director and decided to fill a need. The group believed that many men and women might welcome the opportunity for intellectual stimulation and the chance to enhance their knowledge in many subjects of their choice. Given how passionate many of our residents are about specific subjects, we realized that those who are authorities in their fields could teach classes, and those with an interest could become instructors and those lacking in specific knowledge would just want the opportunity to learn. The end result was four courses attended by 16 students in the first semester and that is how it all began!
CB: When did you join the organization?
RL: I got involved in 1994 and became president in 1995. My initial involvement in 1994 was to take a painting course and it went from there.
CB: How has the program evolved over the years?
RL:We have seen record registrations every year: with over 700 students in 2009 and that total will likely be exceeded. Over 8,000 students have realized adventures in learning since we began. Each year, we offer two full semesters of 10 weeks each featuring 14-16 courses plus we are supported by over 50 volunteer instructors. To top it off, we attract students not just from Kinnelon but from over 30 communities. There's nothing else like it in the neighboring communities. All of this has been very rewarding.
CB: What makes CLL's offerings so unique?
RL: We have basic courses that repeat each semester - for example, "Week in Review - Domestic & World Issues" discussing current events - and new courses based on student input - for example, "Women of Courage", a course on New Jersey and the American Revolution, a four semester course about the Civil War and a class favorite "Tell Me Something I Don't Know".
We offer 3 art classes - oil, water color and sculpture - with over 100 students actively involved each semester. Every February, we hold the Annual CLL Artist Exhibit featuring the creativity of our great CLL students.
CLL goes way beyond the classroom… We now have CLL Performing Arts programs, the CLL “Lectures At The Library” Series, and do outreach with the Kinnelon High School such as the KHS Annual Art Exhibit.
These are the yearly CLL scheduled events.
- January: The Performing Arts Talent Show
- February: Spring Semester begins [February through May], Performing Arts Presentation [In 2010, this was Brazilian Flute & Guitar], Annual CLL Art Exhibit
- April: The CLL Volunteer Recognition Event
- May: Performing Arts Event [In 2010, this was the Westerhoff Concert]
- July: Performing Arts Event [Coming up in 2010: Shakespeare]
- September: Fall Semester begins [September through November]
- November: CLL Silent Art Auction to benefit the Friends of the Kinnelon Library.
RL: Yes. The CLL donates materials from courses to the Kinnelon Library. For example, the 2 year Civil War course I mentioned resulted in donating over 40 videos about events and individuals. Furthermore, thanks to course fees and other income, approximately $10,000 has been donated annually over the past five years to the Kinnelon Library. Those funds help to fund media acquisitions for adults, teens and children and complement the Friends of the Kinnelon Library funding program.
CB: How is CLL organized?
RL: CLL has its own Board of Governors, is self funding and everyone is a volunteer.
CB: Ron, how do interested students participate in Kinnelon's CLL program? Are there any pre-requisites?
RL: We welcome adults of all ages and no special educational background is required. We encourage active involvement in class discussion. The CLL membership fee of $30 allows you to attend as many courses as you wish each semester. Some courses have class size limits and some courses require additional book or material fees.
Course brochures are mailed to all Kinnelon households as well as to non-Kinnelon students on our mailing list. You can also obtain a course brochure from the Kinnelon Library or review the courses offered and download a registration form by visiting CLL on the library web site www.kinnelonlibrary.org. Information on the CLL fall semester will be available and on the web-site after August 1.
CB: Thank you, Ron!
By the way, you may have noticed this magnificent painting in the Kinnelon Library second floor meeting room [if you haven't, you MUST go see it!]. It is the work of the CLL.
Ron shared the following about it:
A Kinnelon Panorama
The fun and rewards of group creativity
Inspired by the CLL oil painting class, the artists initiated a group painting of Kinnelon and its many points of interest. The oil painters did a great job and had fun going it. Over 20 oil painters joined in with each artist painting a different part of the mural.
It took almost two semesters to complete. Now displayed prominently in the Library's main meeting room it represents an interesting look at Kinnelon and a real adventure in learning thanks to instructors Amy Leonard, Allen Nelson and Linda Farmer.
What you may not know is that Ron salvaged the framed blank 2 x 7.5 feet canvas and that the artists of the CLL gave it a new and truly memorable life as A Kinnelon Panorama!
Simply inspiring! Thank you, CLL!
Next, I'll update you on what I learned from Ron about the Friends of the Kinnelon Library.