Open University is Positively Richmond

Suzanne Wiltshire (standing) connects with students in her French class.

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Suzanne Wiltshire has been retired from St. Catherine’s School since 2005, but she still very much helps students express themselves through French.

“I would teach anywhere, anytime,” she exclaims.

Wiltshire is one of dozens of volunteer instructors at Open University. It is a life-long learning program started by The Shepherd’s Center of Richmond 35 years ago. They meet in churches to share expertise on everything from foreign languages to geography and more.

“Someday I am determined to learn French,” says Willis O’Brien, who has been a student in Wiltshire’s class for a few years.

Studies show that staying engaged as you age can ward off everything from Depression to Alzheimer’s Disease.

Shirley Norman-Regal is the most senior student at Open University. She has 97 years and more than 20 semesters under her belt.

“This gives me a sidekick, being able to still be able to come to classes,” she explains the appeal of Open University.

Teachers say they learn as much from the students as the students learn from them.

“Oh, they are wonderful,” says Wiltshire. “They have such rich backgrounds.”

There is also a camaraderie in and out of class.

“Some friendships have formed in the group because of what we do together,” Wiltshire says.

Adds Catherine Hayden, one of her French students, “It’s a great place to meet people with the same interests.”

Never miss another Facebook post from 8News

Find 8News on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram; send your news tips to iReport8@wric.com.