THE ORIGIN AND HISTORY OF LLC:
LLC began in 1976 when two teachers who had taught high school together decided it would be fun to work with adults. The teachers, Sister Rosemary Powers, O.P. and Doris Olson Warbington, designed “The Metropolitan Adult Education Team.” Their ecumenical project was sponsored by Sacred Heart Catholic Church and Gethsemane Lutheran Church, and they started offering classes for adults using parish halls and community centers. Bob Gardner, a social worker with the Office of Religious Education of the Archdiocese of Seattle, joined the women in creating the Lifetime Learning Center, a non-profit organization modeled after the LaFarge Lifetime Institute in Milwaukee, WI. The Archdiocese and Gethsemane Lutheran Church backed the new venture financially, and the Sacred Heart Church provided a home for the center (the old Sacred Heart School near the Seattle Center). Lifetime Learning Center became a nonprofit organization in 1981.
The first quarter of LLC was very successful. Volunteer instructors offered 26 classes, and 140 students signed up. It was a collaborative model where students and teachers sometimes switched roles. Classes were held from 9:30 am – 3:30 pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. Students were charged a $10 registration fee and could sign up for multiple classes.
LLC has always been more than just classes. In the early days, a community forum was set up once a week on Wednesdays. It was a setting where students could discuss and explore current issues. Also on Wednesdays, a lunch was served for only $1.00. And there was a daily “coffee klatch group” after classes. LLC published a school paper, “Second Wind,” as well as an annual volume of poetry and prose.
From the 140 who signed up initially in 1976, enrollment has grown consistently and exponentially. Today LLC typically enrolls about 500 students for each 8-week term. Many students come back year after year, not just to take classes, but to renew and build friendships. The daily “coffee klatch” continues to this day, with many students gathering between classes for coffee and conversation. Students also volunteer to run the annual book sale and other events. The early tradition of publishing a volume of poetry and prose written by students continues today with the annual publication of Life Lines. During fall, winter and spring quarters there are Monday lectures that are open to the public and free of charge.
Adapted and revised from an article written by Mike Boler, student at Lifetime Learning Center, 2014, and an article written by Dorie O. Warbington, co-founder of LLC.