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Lifelong Learning in Tioga County

Written by: on Friday, October 27th, 2023

One year ago, Phil and Nancy Hesser traded the shores of Maryland’s Eastern Shore for the picturesque landscapes of Tioga County. The transition wasn’t just about adjusting to a new geography; it was also about embracing a lifestyle that comes with living in this beautiful region.

“Life in Tioga County has been an adventure,” Phil reflected. “We’ve learned to navigate through snowy winters and become accustomed to sharing our space with deer and the occasional bear.”

However, the most remarkable discovery has been the richness of the community. “Our neighbors are incredibly talented,” Nancy added. “From green-thumbed gardeners to DIY enthusiasts, from avid trail-runners and cyclists to passionate musicians and nature enthusiasts, Tioga County is a hub of diverse skills and interests.”

Recognizing the potential for lifelong learning in their newfound home, the Hessers extended an invitation to the people of Tioga County. They offered a bridge to continuous education through courses they had been involved with in Salisbury, Maryland’s Association for Lifelong Learning. It was an opportunity for individuals willing to share and receive knowledge to enrich their lives.

“Our goal was to tap into the collective wisdom of our Tioga neighbors,” Phil explained. “To do this, we came up with the Kelsey Academy of Tioga, a one-week program designed to promote lifelong learning for our community, facilitated by our community.”

The inaugural program of KAT will feature a series of 12 engaging sessions, each showcasing the experiences and ideas of various individuals from the county. These talks will take place on November 6, 7, 9, and 10 in the studio of the Gmeiner Art and Cultural Center in Wellsboro, with a session on November 8 at the History Center on Main Street in Mansfield.

The topics to be covered are diverse, spanning history and heritage, writing, gardening, filmmaking, health, nature, science, and journalism. The best part? All sessions are free, with no need for reservations.

The name and inspiration for the Kelsey Academy of Tioga come from two generations of the Kelsey family. “Squire” Daniel Kelsey, one of the founders of the Wellsboro Academy, showed how the borough could come together to establish its first school. Anna Kelsey, his daughter, was a pioneer in education, founding one of the state’s earliest kindergartens and serving as a missionary in Alaska. Their legacy mirrors the long-standing tradition in Tioga County of individuals sharing their wisdom and experiences.

“In the spirit of Daniel and Anna Kelsey, as well as the legacy of the Wellsboro Chautauqua, which hosted one-week programs here between 1916 and 1929, we invited our new friends and acquaintances to share their knowledge at the first Kelsey Academy,” Nancy said. “We’ve been delighted, though not surprised, by the overwhelmingly positive response.”

For more information, please feel free to reach out to or Join us in celebrating a shared journey of lifelong learning in the heart of Tioga County! πŸ“šπŸŒΏπŸŽ“


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