Denise is a retired teacher of information technology and keyboarding who still works as a substitute teacher when needed and assists with voting by helping to run a local election station in Houston. One of the districts that she substitutes for went back to school, but Denise still isn’t sure if she’s ready to go in person to classes. She’s heard of cases of students catching COVID-19 and is weary to put her personal health at risk in the classroom.
Denise hasn’t stopped taking classes though. Now she enters GetSetUp, the largest education platform for older adults to teach their peers, as a student to learn new skills. As an active member of our virtual community, she’s become a GetSetUp Ambassador. She was kind enough to sit down for an interview to share a bit more with me about her life as a learner and GetSetUp participant.
How would you define you?
“Witty, pretty, and wise! A wise old owl. I’m willing to learn anything there is to learn that is new. A lot of older people are scared to touch the computer. I used to teach an adult computer class in the evenings before COVID-19 and a lot of people are just afraid to touch the device — they are afraid of change. It may take me a bit to learn something, because I have to do it myself — hands-on. I have to try it for myself several times but then I catch on.”
How did you first hear about GetSetUp?
“I first heard about them through the YMCA. They sent us an email and so I clicked on it to sign up.”
What first caught your eye about GetSetUp?
“The first class I took was a cooking class (Great Meals in 30 Minutes or Less) with Deb Livingston. I’m looking for short cuts for cooking since I’m at home and cooking more. I’m an old fashion cook — I take a long time to cook meals because I put a lot of love into it cooking from scratch. Back then we didn’t have shortcuts but in this day you need the short cuts.”
The shortcuts she learned in her GetSetUp class and her Instapot, a gift from her son for mother’s day, have been helping her save time that she spent cooking to use on learning new things.
What is your favorite class that you have taken with GetSetUp?
“Zoom — I do Zoom classes for just about everything right now since I have been here shut-in due to COVID-19. I just go out to the store, the pharmacy, and the doctor.
I think these classes are great for anyone that doesn’t know how to do something. They can go learn and Zoom is an excellent source for people to learn.
If you aren’t getting on these Zoom classes you are going to miss out on a lot. — People staying in say they have nothing to do but I say — ‘I’m on Zoom learning.’”
What is the greatest benefit of learning?
“I love to learn new things because you are never too old to learn and now the kids with these computers and cellphones — the kids can teach you more than you can teach yourself. They have so much time on their hands to learn those things. I’m 68 so my brain is not what it used to be. I used to learn real quick but now it takes me a little while to catch on.”
While it might take her a bit longer than in the past to learn she keeps at it and continues. Notably, she’s been doing that throughout COVID-19 by attending a lot of events and learning new arts and crafts. She loves to try some of all kinds of different arts and crafts. Even if she doesn’t finish the project its nice to learn new designs and new things like just this week she learned how to tie-dye a t-shirt and make a coaster.
What is the best part about getting older?
“I’m living the dream — not having to work on Mondays. — Retirement means not having to go to work on Mondays unless you want to. When people ask me to substitute on Monday I say — I will do a Friday instead, but not a Monday.”
That’s because Denise spends a lot of her weekend time dedicated to her church so come Sunday night she’s tired. That’s no surprise since she is the Director of Praise Dancing at her church. While they may be online for now, a weekend of choreography can be exhausting.
The only exception to her no work on Monday rule is during elections where usually she has to work about 2–3 weeks on a Monday. And while she is not sure she is ready yet to return to a school setting considering the pandemic, she did work an election in July, which she said didn’t change that much sanitation wise from prior to COVID-19. They were always using Lysol wipes and sanitizing everything the only real new aspects were the social distancing and rubber-tipped pens.
Denise is a firm believer in the truth and supporting one another, she said.
Part of how GetSetUp shows support for our community is through social hours to share and learn new things and through our classes to help empower older adults in their learning process. Come join a class where you will get hands-on experience through live virtual opportunities for growth.