Where would we be without our teachers? Our brilliant and dedicated Road Scholar instructors inspire us every day with the breadth of their knowledge and expertise. Many have devoted years of their lives to our shared mission of lifelong learning. In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, we’re celebrating several of our top-rated instructors, selected by you – our participants! Not only are these instructors well-known experts in their respective fields, but they always go the extra mile to put a smile on our faces and share their gift of knowledge with us. Read on to learn more about them!
To all our Road Scholar instructors: Thank you so much for everything you do!
Organist, Keyboardist and Team Ambassador for the Arizona Diamondbacks
In 1998, Bobby Freeman had the honor of being named the official organist for the Arizona Diamondbacks. Since then, he’s provided the music for all home games at Chase Field for 15 seasons, including the 2006 World Baseball Classic, the 2001 World Series and the 2011 Major League Baseball All-Star Game. In addition to supporting the Diamondbacks during their home games, Bobby – along with team mascot D. Baxter – appears throughout Arizona at schools, libraries and goodwill promotions. He is the only full-time front office organist in any major sport! Bobby’s musical talents are enhanced by his engaging personality and ability to thoroughly entertain his audience. He loves to share stories about the players he’s gotten to know over the years with Road Scholar participants. Bobby has won many awards throughout his career and was recently inducted into the Major League Baseball Cactus League Hall of Fame in 2019.
“What I love most about working with Road Scholar is the interaction with participants. I love sharing stories about myself, my organization and my direct ties to Major League Baseball and Cactus League Spring Training Baseball, while entertaining everyone with my musical talents. I try to make sure each participant feels included throughout my presentation!”
Meet Bobby on San Francisco Giants: Arizona Spring Training Baseball or Chicago Cubs: Arizona Spring Training Baseball
Executive Director of the Oregon Salmon Commission and Oregon Albacore Commission
Nancy Fitzpatrick serves as Executive Director of the Oregon Salmon Commission and the Oregon Albacore Commission. She has a teaching degree but followed husband Mike as he began commercial fishing for salmon in a dory boat in Pacific City, Oregon. Nancy began working for the Oregon Salmon Commission in 1989 and the Albacore Commission in 2006. She currently represents both commercial fisheries through promotion, education, communication and research. She loves teaching Road Scholar participants about commercial fishing along the Oregon Coast. In her lectures, she highlights the importance of supporting local fisheries and knowing where your food comes from. She and her husband live in Lincoln City, Oregon.
“I love interacting with Road Scholar participants and Group Leaders. The groups are always engaged and eager to listen and learn. I always come away from the class with a big smile on my face and glad that I can impart some knowledge!”
Meet Nancy on Coastal Catch: A Culinary Adventure Along Oregon's Beautiful Coast
A naturalist at heart, Chris is a regular workshop leader for the Association for Environmental and Outdoor Education (AEOE) in California. Chris helped establish the California Regional Environmental Education Community (CREEC) Network, a state-wide communication network that provides teachers with resources needed to increase the environmental literacy of California students. Chris also served as the executive director of Camp Ocean Pines in Cambria, California for many years. He has a passion for mentoring staff and instilling a love for nature in his students. His lectures focus on the historical development and practice of falconry worldwide, supplemented by a hands-on interaction with a live raptor! A self-proclaimed lover of “dad jokes” (Why do bees have sticky hair? They use honeycombs!), Chris spends his free time collecting exciting experiences in nature to share with his Road Scholar participants.
“This is the second time I have taken a grandchild on Kayaking & Wildlife: Cali’s Central Coast With Your Grandchild! I liked it even better (if that is possible) this time. We saw elephant seals, LOVED working with master falconer Chris Cameron, learned about many different sea creatures and even went kayaking! I applaud this program and thank all those involved for an excellent learning experience.” - Joan, Road Scholar Class of 2008, from Citrus Heights, Calif.
Meet Chris on California Good Migrations: Elephant Seals, Whales & Birds or Kayaking & Wildlife: Cali’s Central Coast With Your Grandchild
Founder and General Director of Morocco’s Center for Cross-Cultural Learning
Farah founded Morocco’s Center for Cross-Cultural Learning in 1995. Today, she still serves as its general director. She is also president of the Thaqafat Association, a Moroccan nonprofit organization. Farah conducts research in the fields of comparative religion, human rights and women's issues. She holds a degree in comparative literature from Mohammed V University and a certificate in women and gender issues from the University of Hanover. On Road Scholar programs, she lectures on a variety of topics, such as women and Islam, comparative religion, Sufism and Moroccan daily life. Farah is working on publishing her first book about her 25+ years in cross-cultural education.
“I have been working with Road Scholar since 1998. Every day, I meet inspiring people who teach me something new about myself and my country. The exchange of knowledge, the vulnerability that comes from sharing our different perspectives and the bonding that follows are all so important to me.”
Meet Farah on Morocco: Melting Pot of Cultures
Commodore, Chaplain and Historian of the Queen Mary
Everette Hoard’s lifelong passion for the Queen Mary began as a small child. His father moved his family to Long Beach, California so Everette could pursue his dream. He began his career as Commodore of the Queen Mary in 1981. Throughout the years, he has worked as a nautical consultant and maritime historian. His current position as commodore is chiefly an ambassadorial role and incudes officiating wedding ceremonies, conducting research and lecturing on the ship’s fascinating history as the most beloved trans-Atlantic liner of the 20th century. Everette is an official media spokesperson for the Queen Mary and has been featured in countless documentaries, news articles and books about the ship. In the near future, he plans to publish his own book about his life’s journey with the Queen Mary and sailing on the world’s oceans with the Cunard Line.
“I find working with Road Scholars to be one of my most enjoyable duties. As many are retired professionals from all walks of life, they are highly intelligent, well-versed and well-traveled. The Queen Mary is my greatest passion, so I am only too eager to share her illustrious history and lore with them! I also benefit in learning from our Road Scholar guests, so it is a particularly rewarding experience for me.”
Meet Everette on The R.M.S. Queen Mary and Catalina Island
Chairperson of India’s Dignity of Girl Child Foundation
Dr. Meeta Singh is a trained medical doctor and a passionate champion of women's and children's rights in India. A respected professional, she works tirelessly to address issues related to the marginalization of women and girls. In her various roles at nonprofit and government organizations, she helps provide educational opportunities, combat violence against women, campaign for healthcare policies and more. Dr. Singh is an author, motivational speaker and a policy analyst for gender issues. She has published many articles in both national and international publications, and she has been honored by India’s National Commission for Women. Dr. Singh has represented her country at the 59th, 60th and 63rd meetings of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women in New York. On Road Scholar programs, she lectures about contemporary women’s issues in India.
“Interacting with Road Scholars has been a very enriching experience for me. Their insightful comments and questions adds value to the entire exercise.”
Meet Dr. Singh on Highlights of India: Discover Delhi, Agra, Jaipur & Varanasi
Educator at the Santa Fe Opera; Music Director and Conductor of the Santa Fe Community Orchestra
Oliver Prezant has presented lectures for the Santa Fe Opera, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival and numerous other organizations. He is the Music Director and Conductor of the award-winning Santa Fe Community Orchestra and was on the faculty of The College of Santa Fe for many years. He studied conducting at The Pierre Monteux School and is a graduate of The Mannes College of Music in New York City. Oliver also serves as an Artistic Advisor and Teaching Artist for ArtWorks, an organization that provides students with educational workshops in music, dance, theater and visual arts. He enjoys teaching Road Scholars about the world of opera and helping both newcomers and aficionados develop a deeper understanding of the art form. His lectures explore everything from the big picture elements of plot, character and cultural context to the fine details of singing, acting and stage direction.
“The educational portion of Opera Extravaganza: The Santa Fe Opera Festival Season was its defining feature. Oliver Prezant is probably the finest classroom teacher I have encountered in my 77 years on planet Earth.”- James, Road Scholar Participant, from Portland, Ore.
Meet Oliver on Opera Extravaganza: The Santa Fe Opera Festival Season
Retired Professor (University of Havana, 1966-2011); Current Professor & Coordinator for the Havana Program of the Consortium of Advanced Studies Abroad (CASA)
Marta Nuñez Sarmiento is a retired professor who taught methodology and gender studies at the University of Havana for 45 years. Her research has concentrated on women and employment in Cuba – including gender studies in Cuba, images of women in Cuban mass media and transitional projects proposed by Cuban American and U.S. scholars. She lectures about gender dynamics in Cuba on Road Scholar programs. Marta holds a Master of Sociology and a Ph. D. in economics. She has been a visiting professor at universities around the world and a consultant on gender for the UN and other NGOs. Her work has been published in numerous books, and she has written articles for several scientific journals. In 2011, she was honored with the Award for Lifelong Scientific Work by the Chancellor of the University of Havana.
“I enjoy the challenge of explaining my truths about Cuba to Road Scholar visitors. A 20-minute introduction always leads to almost an hour of intelligent and unpredictable questions. Their points of view and questions compel me to establish empathetic relationships with them and deepen my own knowledge of Cuba.”
Meet Marta on Cuba Today: People and Society: Havana & Cienfuegos or Women in the City: Art & History in Cuba
Walter: Principal Flutist of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra; Professor for Flute at the University of Music Vienna
Julia: Lecturer for Elemental Music and Music Pedagogy at the University of Music Vienna; Flute Teacher in Lower Austria
Walter Auer is the Principal Flutist of the Wiener Philharmoniker, a position he has held since 2003. Walter began flute lessons at the age of 10 and was awarded first prize in youth competitions several times. He was also a member of the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra under Claudio Abbado. Later, he studied at the University “Mozarteum” in Salzburg and finished his studies at the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra-Academy in Berlin. Walter has played numerous concerts with the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and frequently appears as a soloist in recitals and concerts around the world. He teaches master classes in Europe, Australia, Asia and the United States.
Julia Auer is an unusually versatile performer. After studying musicology at the University of Vienna, she completed her studies of the flute and musical pedagogy at the University of Music. She has devoted much of her time and interest to intensive research in historical sources and instruments, and she is a member of several Early Music groups. She has also composed a number of songs throughout her career.
You’ll often catch husband and wife duo Walter and Julia lecturing together on a Road Scholar program!
“It is always a real pleasure to meet our wonderful Road Scholar participants. They are truly interesting, engaged and quite simply lovely people!”
Meet Walter and Julia on Great Composers of Europe
“The Whale Guy”
Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, John L. Ford has held many titles. He was part of a touring rock band, spent time as a photojournalist and worked as a federal ranger and marine mammal biologist at Yaquina Head Lighthouse. His photographs have been published in several Northwest field guides. John is also a first responder with the Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network and a member of the Northwest Aquatic and Marine Educators. John has been an instructor with Road Scholar for over 20 years. He leads nature walks and lectures on geology, the local environment and his adventures with the Oregon Marine Mammal Stranding Network. John loves meeting Road Scholar participants who are excited about learning new concepts and exploring unique environments.
“I attended Hiking the Redwoods in Northern California in June of 2019 and I still look back at pictures to remember our marvelous time in the woods. John, you really made things come alive. Thanks to you all.”- Laurel, Road Scholar Class of 2018, from St. Paul, Minn.
Meet John on Hiking the Redwoods in Northern California or A Hiking Adventure Along Oregon's Central Coast
Professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology (SUNY); Lecturer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Museum of Modern Art
Richard Turnbull is an assistant professor in the History of Art Department at the Fashion Institute of Technology (SUNY) in New York. He also lectures regularly at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art. Richard earned his Ph.D. in art history from the Institute of Fine Arts. He has published numerous articles on topics like printmaking, contemporary photography, Islamic art and 1970s pop music and culture. He enjoys conversing with Road Scholars and leading introductory lectures on New York City’s iconic art museums. Throughout his career, Richard has received many awards for his teaching skills, including a SUNY Excellence in Teaching Award and various grants.
“What I enjoy most about working for Road Scholar is the chance to converse with a serious, experienced and engaged audience of people who have never lost their taste for learning!”
Meet Richard on Signature City New York, New York City at a Slower Pace: The Best of the Big Apple or All-Art Experience in New York City: Met, MoMA and More
Founder and Owner of Amelia River Cruises in Fernandina Beach, Fla.
Kevin grew up in Gloucester, Massachusetts and settled in Fernandina Beach in 1968. He has spent 52 years sailing the waters of Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia, where his ancestors settled hundreds of years ago. He holds a 100-ton master’s license and developed his knowledge of local wildlife and history by exploring the waters that surround Amelia Island, Cumberland Island and St. Mary's. Kevin and his wife, Cecilia, created the award-winning Amelia River Cruises in 2000 so they could share their knowledge of the area with others. Generations of Kevin’s family have been shrimpers, and he shares his knowledge of shrimp farming and the future of the shrimp industry in the United States with Road Scholar participants.
“I am a storyteller, and I think it must be in my DNA! The history that I discovered here on Amelia Island when I arrived 52 years ago blew me away, and I love sharing this history with all of our guests, including the wonderful Road Scholars.”
Meet Kevin on History & Ecology: Okefenokee Swamp, Amelia & Cumberland Islands
Owner of Big Sky Adventures & Tours
A love of the outdoors brought Denise Wade to Montana in 1984. For many years, Denise has worked as a naturalist and Nordic leader for Lone Mountain Ranch. Her avid interest in ecosystem management has taken her on many trips throughout the mainland United States and to Alaska, Mexico, Costa Rica, Europe and more – following species’ habitat management patterns. She lectures on a wide variety of subjects, including wildlife ecology, the geology of YeIlowstone’s supervolcano and the landscapes of Montana. Denise enjoys working with Road Scholars of all ages and teaching children hands-on science so they can better understand the world around them. In her spare time, Denise can be found regularly hiking or cross-country skiing around Southwest Montana and Yellowstone National Park.
“You can visit Yellowstone without the benefit of a Road Scholar instructor like Denise Wade, but I do not recommend it. With Denise, we got so much more out of the experience than we would on our own. She was fantastic, as was Yellowstone itself!” - Sheila, Road Scholar Participant, from Watervliet, N.Y.
Meet Denise on Wildlife & Geysers: Yellowstone With Your Younger Grandchild
About the Author JoAnn Bell, Senior Vice President of Program Development, develops and manages more than 5,500 learning adventures in 150 countries and 50 states. JoAnn’s extensive travel industry experience informs her expert insight on everything from where to find the world’s most charming streets to must-see hidden gems across the globe.
My wife and I always avoided tours of any kind. But with no skills in Chinese we had to take a tour, choosing Road Scholar as possibly the least awful tour company. Bin Zhao who led our Chinese capitals tour forever changed our minds! Highly intelligent, fully conversant with Chinese culture, history, arts, super articulate with flawless English, and an engaging and always pleasant persona !!! He absolutely should have been on and topped your list of best!
My favorite group leader is Moira (can't remember last name) who led my trip to Portland, OR. What a wonderful experience made so special by Moira, who led with boundless energy and enthusiasm. Moira added color, taste, texture and feel for the city of Portland and even danced an Irish jig on a city sidewalk
Ed Lieser, Candi Naylor and Dan'l Moore were the leaders of our Glacier/Waterton trip in July 2016. It was such a wonderful experience that it seems like yesterday not 4 years ago. They were all SO knowledgeable and shared that knowledge with such enthusiasm. I loved walking the trails with Ed naming the flowers and plants and pointing out animal activity. One highlight was walking to a small waterfall where Candi played her flute. Thank you all for a special experience!
See my earlier comment about Phil Moore. He's great!
I agree with respondent, jreksel (below), that Phil Moore is a wonderful tour guide and also my favorite RS instructor, so far! His knowledge of the geology of Zion, Bryce, the Grand Canyon, and surrounding areas is outstanding, and he has a wonderful, conversational style that makes learning easy and fun. His wife, Lori, helps make the tour even more enjoyable for participants. I've already submitted Phil's name as a possible instructor for one of your virtual lectures. Thanks for reaching out to us RS fans!
Where can we laid an especially wonderful RS tour guide?
Unbelievable that Gary Nielsen wasn’t one of the highlighted instructors. Gary has been the most fabulous leader on trips I’ve taken in Utah. He’s very knowledgeable about our environment, is extremely helpful and kindhearted to every guest, promotes Road Scholar in so many ways, acts quickly and with competence in an emergency, and has a devoted following of satisfied travelers. Gary has helped evaluate and plan trips at R. S. Headquarters. He gets Gold Stars from me for being a magnificent Road Scholar leader and fine humanitarian.
Caroline Buizza, a native Parisian, made the history, art and culture of France fascinating for our group of grandparents and granddaughters, which was a challenge. I didn't know how she was going to explain the painting Olympia by Manet to these impressionable young girls but she did a wonderful interpretation. And we were all mesmerized by her story about King Henry II. I hope she'll be the instructor when I take my younger granddaughter on the same adventure. Another favorite instructor is Phil Moore. My husband and I did a hiking adventure with him to three national parks - Zion, Bryce and the Grand Canyon. He explained so much about nature and astronomy. One night he had us all on the ground outside our hotel pointing out constellations. We plan on traveling again with him and his wife, Lori.
I have two instructors who are favorites: Conway Davies in Wales, and Julian Browne who led my river boat tour on the Rhône in 2017. Conway gave a Virtual Lecture just last week. It was wonderful to see him again. Julian is just incredible. His encyclopedic knowledge of and enthusiasm for all things French make him one of absolute best guides I have ever met. I have traveled extensively with other companies, including Smithsonian, and I consider Julian one of the top guides I have ever met. Bravo!
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