Back to school: Darien, Rowayton seniors close the generation gap

Lifetime learners

Sara Zagrodzky and Janeen Bjork met at a Middlesex Genealogical Society meeting at the Darien Library and worked together on the Beginner level Lifetime Learners Genealogy & Computers class. (Bernie Weiss Photos)

Locals of a certain age go back to school next month to pursue the second most popular hobby in the U.S.: Genealogy (second to gardening). Genealogy is a multi-billion dollar industry but genealogy courses offered at Norwalk Community College by the non-profit Lifetime Learners Institute are a low-cost option with money-saving strategies for researching family histories.

“Genealogy & Computers” courses in 2015-16 were so popular that there will be three levels this fall: Beginner, Advanced Beginner and Intermediate/Advanced. Twenty-four Genealogy & Computers” students received their certificates of participation from the Chair of Curriculum, Lifetime Learners, Richard Di Vecchio, and the facilitator for the “Genealogy & Computers” classes, Janeen Bjork last spring at a Moving Up ceremony that signified their achievements. 

Darien resident Jennifer Carter, who took the Beginner class last spring, said, “The Moving Up day graduation ceremony was totally fun and a little crazy. I am happy to have my certificate of participation to impress my kids with. Someday they’ll be able to appreciate how my discoveries in this class made so many of their relatives come alive again.”

Another of last spring’s beginners, Katy Rahe of Rowayton said, “I have always been interested in my family’s genealogy knowing that some ancestors came over on the Mayflower and others were in Germany. LLI facilitator Janeen Bjork showed us how to have fun discovering and telling the stories of our ancestors!”

Sara Zagrodzky, a Darien resident, heard about Bjork’s Genealogy classes when the two met at a Middlesex Genealogical Society meeting at the Darien Library. At a Newspapers for Genealogy class with Bjork, Zagrodzky found items about her most famous ancestor, Sylvester Jones Conklin, a distinguished Civil War veteran, newspaper publisher, and South Dakota settler, whose funeral was attended by 2000 people. Although Zagrodzky was much too young to be a Lifetime Learner, she signed on as an assistant. Some weeks she traveled from her volunteer work at the Darien Historical Society to NCC, spending her afternoons sharing her love of history, and family history, with others.

The three levels of “Genealogy and Computers,” and 40 other, one-day two-hour; daytime courses that meet up to eight weeks, will resume Sept.19. For information or to receive a free detailed course catalog phone 203-857-3330 or see

For more information, contact Janeen Bjork, [email protected] or (203) 698-4927



About author

By participating in the comments section of this site you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and User Agreement

© HAN Network. All rights reserved. The Darien Times, 10 Corbin Drive, Floor 3, Darien, CT 06820

Designed by WPSHOWER

Powered by WordPress