One Community’s Passion for Lifelong Learning

Apr 16, 2024

older adults couples talking to each otherIt was just a few years ago that Toni Smith became a resident at The Admiral at the Lake. She was drawn to this community because of its focus on the ongoing pursuit of knowledge. Toni’s passion for learning led her to the Lifelong Learning Committee, of which she is now chair.

The Admiral at the Lake hosts numerous programs every month on a variety of topics. From Shakespeare to astrophysics, the Lifelong Learning Committee pairs Admiral resident interests with expert speakers who consistently delight and enrich our community members.


Although she describes it as happenstance, we know that it was Toni’s initiative that has made all the difference. It began when she asked a colleague to give a presentation. To her amazement, her invited speaker drew a crowd of 70 Admiral residents! She then realized that her own passion for learning was shared by her neighbors.

Fortunately, Toni is still active with the extensive network of professionals that she got to know during her lucrative career in non-profit recruiting. In addition, she volunteers at The Oriental Institute, the University of Chicago’s ancient Near Eastern studies archaeology museum and interdisciplinary research center.

College Town Atmosphere

Many Kendal communities are in small college towns that afford community residents a close association with local education communities. Here in Chicago, we are fortunate to have a wide range of educational opportunities to choose from, but our residents favor learning opportunities offered within our residential community.

In the beginning, none of the local educational institutions were interested in cooperating with The Admiral at the Lake. That changed when they met Toni Smith.

University Classes On-Site

In September of 2016, thanks to Toni’s glowing smile and steadfast determination, the very first off-campus University of Chicago course was conducted at The Admiral at the Lake. The 4-week course on A People’s History of Chicago was so successful that The Admiral at the Lake signed a contract with The University of Chicago Graham School of Continuing Liberal and Professional Studies to offer a selection of courses throughout 2017.

Unprecedented Success

As chair of the Lifelong Learning Committee, Toni Smith is overjoyed by the program’s success. Educational presentations are offered by area experts through the University of Chicago classes, private seminars, lecture series, and showings of Great Courses. Some of the past topics that have been covered include:  the River Walk, Babylon, the Pyramids, the Hubble Telescope, Wrigley Field, contemporary photography, mountain gorillas, real-life CSI, dark matter, the gaslight era, Vista Towers, the evolution of the flu, the underground railroad, the U.S. highway system and Islam.

Upcoming presentations include such varied topics as architecture, William Shakespeare, and American Democracy.

The Admiral at the Lake

If you would like to learn more about the lifelong learning activities and other exciting events happening at The Admiral at the Lake, we invite you to check us out. Our senior living community provides outstanding comfort and a sense of community for residents who consider retirement to be a chance to get out and live the life they choose, free from the burden of maintenance and competing priorities. Visit us online or call 773-433-1801 to set up a tour.