The History Center on Main Street

61 North Main Street, Mansfield, Pennsylvania 16933

Introducing Kelsey Academy

Lifelong Learning Academy Taps Tioga’s Talent

Arriving in Wellsboro from Maryland’s Eastern Shore a year ago, Phil and Nancy Hesser found there was much to learn about life in Tioga County. “Not about getting around after a major snowstorm this past winter,” observed Phil, “but we did educate ourselves about sharing space with deer and an occasional bear.” Nancy remarked, “Another thing we’ve discovered is how talented our neighbors are – gardeners, do-it-yourselfers, trail-runners, bicyclists, canoers, musicians, and students of nature, photography, history, and literature.”


Seeing the possibilities for lifelong learning in their adopted community, the Hessers invited the people of Tioga County to Zoom into the courses that they continued to offer through Salisbury Maryland’s Association for Lifelong Learning. (For information about their Zoomed courses, which have focused on environmental history, short fiction, and jazz, contact This was a chance to introduce lifelong learning as a way for people willing to give and take classes to enrich their lives.


“Our goal – and challenge – was to draw upon the talents of our Tioga neighbors,” Phil said. “Our solution was to propose the Kelsey Academy of Tioga (KAT), a one-week program of talks on a variety of subjects to promote lifelong learning for our neighbors by our neighbors.” The Kelsey Academy’s inaugural program will offer 12 sessions showcasing the experiences and ideas of a cross-section of people in the county. On November 6, 7, 9 and 10, the talks will take place in the Studio of the Gmeiner Art and Cultural Center in Wellsboro, and on November 8 at the History Center on Main Street in Mansfield. Topics will include history and heritage, writing, gardening, filmmaking, health, nature, science, and journalism. All sessions are free. No reservations needed.


“The Kelsey Academy of Tioga takes its name and purpose from two generations of the Kelsey family,” Phil explained: “From ‘Squire’ Daniel Kelsey, one of the founders of the Wellsboro Academy, we learned about the borough creating its first school as a community venture. Anna Kelsey, Daniel’s daughter, who taught at Mansfield Normal School, founded one of the state’s first kindergartens, and served as a missionary in Alaska, reminded us of Tioga County’s long history of people sharing their experience and knowledge.”


“So in the spirit of Daniel and Anna Kelsey, as well as the Wellsboro Chautauqua, which held one-week programs here between 1916 and 1929, we invited our new neighbors and acquaintances to give talks at the first Kelsey Academy,” Nancy recalled. “We’ve been very happy, but not surprised, with the positive response.”


Phil noted that research about participating in lifelong learning has been shown to sharpen one’s wits and deepen social connections: “If you have seen your screen time increase week by week, it may be time to go offline for a little while and connect in person with your Tioga neighbors. I have been involved in these programs for well over ten years, and I have never seen any person regret becoming a lifelong learner. Why not give it a try yourself?”


For further information about the program, watch this space in the coming weeks or contact


The Kelsey Academy of Tioga at the Gmeiner Art and Cultural Center, 134 Main Street, Wellsboro, and the History Center on Main Street, 61 N. Main Street – sponsored by Dunkin Donuts of Wellsboro


site created and maintained by Joyce M. Tice

Home | About | News | Calendar | Photo Gallery | Links | FAQ | Contact