Lifelong Learning Institute at Virginia Tech
  Lifelong Learning Institute at Virginia Tech

Lifelong Learning Institute at Virginia Tech

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Course Instructors

photo Dawn Barnes has been with Virginia Cooperative Extension for 31 years. She is a Senior Extension Agent, Family and Consumer Sciences, serving both Floyd and Montgomery Counties.

photo Isabel Berney is an active member and the volunteer administrator of the Funeral Consumers Alliance, a non-profit volunteer organization that provides information to consumers. The Funeral Consumers Alliance has been cited by AARP and Consumer Reports as the go-to organization for accurate information about the death care industry.

photo Jack Call has been a professor of Criminal Justice at Radford University since 1985. Jack has taught a variety of law and criminal justice-related courses for LLI.

photo Anne Campbell is a retired Women’s Health Nurse Practitioner with an amateur’s interest in fabric quilting and barn quilts. She has taught several end-of-life classes for LLI.

photo Jay Crone joined the Virginia Tech faculty in 1994 and is Principal Trombone of the Roanoke Symphony Orchestra, the Wintergreen Festival Orchestra, and the Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival Orchestra.

photo Vicky Dierckx has a Ph.D. in Psychological Science and a teaching degree. In 2015, she moved with her family from Belgium to Blacksburg. She has taught her 6-week happiness class the last two years in collaboration with the Blacksburg Community Center.

photo Kira Dietz is the Acquisitions and Processing Archivist at Virginia Tech Special Collections, where she helps to collect new books and manuscripts and make them accessible in person and online. She is the department’s “goto” person for food and drink history reference, outreach, and instruction. At home, she’s an avid cook, baker, and mixologist.

photo Richard Gilbert is the author of Shepherd: A Memoir, a finalist for the Ohioana Book Award, which concerns the decade he and his family lived on a farm in Appalachian Ohio. His recent essay “Animals Saved Me” won Hunger Mountain’s 2017 Creative Nonfiction Prize; “That Day at Joe’s” was first runner-up for the Proximity Narrative Journalism Award. He lives in Riner.

photo After doing her MA thesis on M.F.K. Fisher, Britton Gildersleeve feels competent to tell her scholarly friends why they should read food writers: hunger is universal. And the literature about it is amazing! Before her retirement, Gildersleeve was the director of the Oklahoma State University Writing Project—a federal grant for literacy. Her creative non-fiction and poetry have appeared in many journals, and she has three chapbooks.

photo Jane Goette and Molly McClintock are both avid readers who love to discuss books, poems, stories, essays, and ideas. If you also believe the reading experience is enriched, deepened, and made more enjoyable through conversation, then this short story class is for you.

photo Paula Golden has had a passion for all aspects of quilting for 40 years. She teaches nationally and internationally, has published patterns widely, and has displayed her quilts in private and public collections.

photo Kaye Graham is a 30-plus year instructor in the English Department with a specialty in Children’s Literature. She initiated Virginia Tech’s first Harry Potter course.

photo Randall Horst has served as Wine Buyer at the Vintage Cellar for 25 years. He has visited many wineries in the major wine producing regions and shares his experiences while teaching in a highly personalized manner. He has taught an LLI wine appreciation course every term since 2016.

photo Anna Hower is a sophomore nutrition major at Virginia Tech.

photo Derry Hutt is a graduate of LLI’s first ukulele class. She writes “Voice may be my first instrument, but I’ve played trumpet and guitar, and I have most recently picked up the ukulele. You may have seen me over the past 20 years hidden in the French horn section of the Blacksburg Community Band.”

photo Joe Ivers has been teaching cooking classes for over 30 years. He has taught French, Moroccan, Japanese, and Chinese cooking classes.

photo After training as a mathematician and retiring from a career in education administration, Joe Jennelle has concentrated on developing skills in scenic, portrait, and wildlife photography. His work has been displayed in many local public settings.

photo Since retiring from teaching, Ruth Lefko has been exploring her lifelong interest in art. Her work is on display at several locations throughout Southwest Virginia including The Maggie Gallery, Floyd VA. Visit her website: www. and Ruth Lefko Art, Facebook.

photo April Martin is an historian serving as Program Director at the Wilderness Road Regional Museum and Visitors’ Services Coordinator at Edith Bolling Wilson Birthplace Museum. She owns and operates Fort Hope History Tour Guide Service and previously led Smithfield Plantation for 8 years.

photo Jane Goette and Molly McClintock are both avid readers who love to discuss books, poems, stories, essays, and ideas. If you also believe the reading experience is enriched, deepened, and made more enjoyable through conversation, then this short story class is for you.

photo David McKee served as Director of the Marching Virginians for 32 years. In addition, he taught courses in aural skills and music theory for the non-music major.

photo Joseph Mukuni teaches career and technical education at Virginia Tech, including courses in communication skills and methods of teaching in Zambian colleges.

photo Rebecca Novy, a retired teacher, is a board member and part-time staff member at the Montgomery Museum of Art and History in Christiansburg. She has been doing genealogy for about 25 years and has earned two Professional Learning Certificates. She is the owner of Novy Genealogy.

photo Emeritus Professor of History William Ochsenwald taught 7,000 students the history of the Middle East at Virginia Tech from 1971 to 2008. He has presented four earlier courses for Lifelong Learning.

photo Linda Olin is a retired art teacher from Blacksburg Middle School with 30 years teaching experience. Linda has taught several art classes for LLI.

photo Stephen Owen is a professor and chair of the Department of Criminal Justice at Radford University.

photo Jesi Pace-Berkeley won First Place in the 35th Faber Birren National Color Award competition for her work “Trent.” Jesi is a Professional Fellow of the Virginia Museum of Fine Art and Artist in Residence at the Don and Catherine Bryan Cultural Series, Outer Banks.

photo Sidney “Al” Pearson, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Radford University, researched the history of political thought, Founding Principles, Progressivism, and voting behavior.

photo Tim Pratt taught courses at Virginia Tech in satellite communications, radar, and GPS for thirty years. He is an Emeritus Professor and recipient of the Wine Award for Excellence in Teaching. The third edition of his textbook on satellite communications will be published in Fall 2019.

photo Paul Quigley, Director of the Virginia Center for Civil War Studies, VT

photo Janet Rankin, Professor Emerita, Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise, VT

photo Ashley Reed is Assistant Professor of English at Virginia Tech, where she teaches courses on American literature from the colonial period to the present.

photo Wornie Reed is Professor of Sociology and Africana Studies and Director of the Race and Social Policy Research Center at Virginia Tech.

photo Jeff Saperstein is a retired professor of English from Radford University. He taught a variety of undergraduate and graduate courses, including Works of Melville.

photo Janet Sawyers learned to play Mah Jongg in 2006. She finds teaching it to others is almost as much fun as teaching a child how to read.

photo Joe Scallorns has taught in the Department of English at Virginia Tech since 2007. He is a lifelong Bob Dylan fan.

photo Joe Scarpaci is Executive Director of the Center for the Study of Cuban Culture + Economy. He has introduced nearly 900 Americans to Cuba since 1991.

photo Sandy Schlaudecker is the president of the local Funeral Consumers Alliance and active in other community organizations.

photo Pat Shoemaker is a retired faculty member and past dean of the College of Education and Human Development at Radford University. She is certified through the Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Training Program with Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach.

photo Dean Spader is an Emeritus Professor at the University of South Dakota where he taught ethics of criminal justice and administrative law. Dean has facilitated numerous discussion classes for LLI.

photo Lois Stephens maintains a studio in the Newport Community Center, and her work can be viewed online at

photo June Stubbs taught Italian for 30 years, including 25 at Virginia Tech. She has traveled frequently in Italy.

photo Michael Squires, Professor Emeritus of English, taught at Virginia Tech for many years.

photo Josiah Tlou is Professor Emeritus at Virginia Tech, where he taught in International Education from 1978 to 2004.

photo Peter Wallenstein is an award winning professor of history at Virginia Tech, recognized for both his teaching and his research, and author of Cradle of America: A History of Virginia and many other books.

photo Gordon Yee enjoys cooking and has belonged to a vegan supper club for over 10 years, where about once every four weeks, he cooks a vegan meal. Anna Hower is a sophomore nutrition major at Virginia Tech.

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Continuing & Professional Education @ Virginia Tech