Globe-trotting With Corrigan Makes Education A Joy

Aacc Teacher Leads Faraway Field Trips

November 21, 1991|By Marc LeGoff | Marc LeGoff,Staff writer

When George Corrigan takes his students on a field trip, he goes allout.

Corrigan, a part-time instructor in Anne Arundel Community College's senior program, ventured through Red Square amid student protests in May 1990, then traced the life of Amadeus Mozart through Budapest, Vienna, Salzburg and Prague last spring.

And next summer, his entourage of seniors will visit Spain duringthe 500th anniversary celebration of Columbus discovering America and be treated to some of the finest music Italy has to offer at the outdoor opera festivals in Verona, Spoleto and Rome.

"I always thought teaching was something I'd like to try at some point in my life," said Corrigan, a 65-year-old retired National Security Agency employee who lives in Crofton.

"But it's turned out to be more of a two-way street. My students are teaching me new things all the time. Learning is forever."

Corrigan lived in Europe during eight of his 31 years at NSA and traveled extensively. His overseas training combined with his bachelor's degree in political science and master's degree in international relations no doubt qualifies him to teach courses such as "Political Parties," "Current Events" and "Soviet and International Affairs" at the Arnold campus.

Some of the most recent topics he's covered include the 1992 presidential election and county redistricting. He also teaches weekly classes at the Heritage Harbor retirement community in Annapolis and the Annapolis and Shady Side senior centers.

"My classes tend to draw well-educated professionals -- retired doctors, lawyers, engineers, government workers, not to mentionwell-informed housewives. It's a new dimension in education for seniors," he said.

"They keep me on my toes. Often they nail me to thewall. When talking about the economy to a bunch of former bankers, Ihad better have done my homework. But the main thrust of the coursesis an exchange of information, not just straight lecturing."

Before each trip, Corrigan gives a crash course in the country's conversational language, along with a little of its history and culture. He said he's "semi-fluent" in German, French, Spanish, Russian and a few other Slavic languages.

"It's hard to top the guy," said Mary Johnson, one of Corrigan's pupils. "On the eve of May Day, George led us through the Moscow subway system and had no trouble deciphering the signs in Cyrillic.

"Before my husband and I took our first class with him, I didn't know what to expect. Maybe something one step above advanced basket weaving. I'm very impressed with his broad knowledge."

When his travel groups return home, Corrigan conducts a special class of reconciliation and review. After the Mozart theme trip, the class enjoyed a videotape of their excursion made by Johnson and her husband, Bud. The Johnsons, both former WJZ-TV 13 employees from the 1950s, edited the video footage and dubbed in music and narration.

Corrigan says each trip requires many months of preparation, paper work and hundreds of phone calls.

Seniors' travel costs "can get very expensive," Corrigan said. "But," he added, "it's not like every student goes on every trip. We average about 30 to 35 each time."

For the nine years Corrigan has been teaching at the community college, the senior courses have been free, except for a $10 registration fee. In January, the fees will increase to $40 a course.

"You can only play so many rounds of golf," Corrigan said. "Exercise is great, but you've got to do something that's going to stimulate your mind."

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