Penn State York offers new slate of OLLI courses beginning in October

September 23, 2010

"The Gilded Age: 1870-1910" is just one of the many courses that get under way the week of Oct. 4 as part of the fall classes offered through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) at Penn State York. For adults who never want to stop experiencing life and learning, OLLI offers courses of interest during the day without the stress of tests, requirements and official textbooks. OLLI began offering courses in April 2008 and since that time the organization has grown to more than 250 members with a variety of daytime courses, bus trips, walking tours and lunchtime learning sessions.

Molly Dallmeyer, a York native and a high school social studies teacher in the Dallastown Area School District, is the course instructor for "The Guilded Age: 1870-1910." Dallmeyer will take students on a journey through history during a time when America was experiencing phenomenal growth in many areas. Throughout the six-week course a variety of questions will be answered. How did the places, people and events mold our country into a world power? What events dramatically changed the course of history for our country? Who was important in shaping those events? Why is this time period so crucial to our standing in the world today? Classes will explore topics on immigration, reform, Jim Crow, American education, popular culture and entertainment, the presidents, politics and the world stage. The course will also cover westward expansion, the "Splendid Little War," working conditions, and leisure time more than 100 years ago.

This isn’t Dallmeyer’s first time teaching for OLLI, she has taught courses on the "Holocaust years (1933-1945)," "The Rise of Nazi Germany (1920-1945)," and also a course on great Americans. When she first volunteered to teach for OLLI, Dallmeyer was a stay at home mother who had resigned from her teaching career to raise her children. Becoming a part of OLLI was not something she planned.

“I received the flyer in the mail about OLLI courses, and noticed that they were presenting a course on Gettysburg and since I had been a former high school social studies teacher, that topic was right up my alley. I had to find a way to take this course, and it fit my schedule; my daughter was in school by that time, and my son would be in pre-school for a few hours. I figured, a two- hour class, for six weeks, on a topic that I wanted to know more about, without homework or tests, and right in my own backyard was just perfect,” said Dallmeyer.

Her only concern was that she thought OLLI was a program just for retired people. Luckily, Dallmeyer decided to take the plunge and attend the course taught by Tom Schaeffer, a local historian. Through that course she a met a number of OLLI board members who convinced her to teach a course and she has been involved since that time.

Dallmeyer shares that there’s an advantage to taking OLLI courses for students and teachers alike. For her, OLLI courses are so enjoyable to teach because the students in the class want to be there and have a genuine interest in learning something new. It’s not like courses you teach to students who are required to be there and may not really want to learn.

“OLLI students have a wealth of knowledge about so many things other than the topics we focus on in class. My students include career lawyers, mechanics, school teachers, homemakers and the like, who all have life experiences to offer. Many of these adults have become my friends outside of the classroom, and have assisted my work with my high school students. It is so rewarding to stand in front of these people for six weeks and share what I know,” said Dallmeyer.

OLLI has a $50 yearly membership fee that covers two semesters and a $20 fee for each course taken. OLLI courses are taught by volunteers who want to share their expertise and talents including college faculty members, hobbyists, artists, schoolteachers, and practicing professionals. The six-week classes are offered during the day and are 90 minutes in length with most meeting on the Penn State York campus. There are also a number of short courses and other programs.

Those interested in taking this or any other courses this fall should call 717-771-4015 or send an e-mail to Visit for more information about OLLI at Penn State York.

  • Molly Dallmeyer, center, an instructor for OLLI, shares some course materials with Betty Will, left, and Linda Glassmeyer, right, members of OLLI at Penn State York.

    IMAGE: Barbara H. Dennis

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Last Updated November 18, 2010