Crane’s Mill Residents Enjoy Intellectual Growth with Help of University Professors

Educational Programming is Essential for Seniors at this West Caldwell, New Jersey Life Plan Community

Alexandre Clemente, university professor and frequent lecturer at Crane's Mill

Alexandre Clemente, university professor and frequent lecturer at Crane’s Mill

The La Via Wellness program at Crane’s Mill senior living community enhances resident well-being by focusing on six distinct dimensions of wellness: physical, spiritual, intellectual, emotional and social, vocational, and environmental. We believe that a well-rounded approach is key to long-term health. With the help of dedicated experts who specialize in each dimension of La Via, residents follow their own paths to engage their bodies and minds. Professor Alexander Clemente oversees the intellectual aspects of the program.

Alexander has worked in education for more than 20 years. He currently serves as a professor at both William Paterson University and the County College of Morris, specializing in ancient and medieval history. His involvement with Crane’s Mill came about through his prior acquaintance with Director of Community Programming Nicole Smith, who invited him to continue his lifelong learning presentations at the community when she came on board. In addition to speaking at Crane’s Mill, Alexander presents lectures and programs for libraries and other groups throughout the area. Though his “day job” involves teaching to younger students, he loves having the opportunity to engage with senior learners.

As the La Via Wellness program took off, Alexander was able to seamlessly incorporate his preexisting lecture series thanks to his excellent rapport with residents. Continuing education is an essential factor in holistic health as outlined by La Via. In Alexander’s words, “it’s a dead-on fit; in my opinion, if you stop learning, you could say you stop living.” With occasional help from other experts and guest speakers, Alexander offers a diverse selection of intellectual programming on topics ranging from King Arthur to tea. His next lecture series will explore ancient barbarian cultures from a non-Greco-Roman perspective.

History is his main focus, but Alexander finds that his lecture topics lend themselves to explorations of subjects like religion, literature, philosophy, and psychology as well. Feedback and input from residents and Nicole Smith inspire new and exciting intellectual presentations. Residents always want to discover new passions and learn about the subjects that excite them. “Sometimes Nicole will call me up and ask for a presentation on something I’ve never done,” Alexander says. “I’ll research it and it’ll turn out to be a really fun lecture. The sky is the limit on what can be done with this program.”

The key to success, in Alexander’s view, is recognizing that Crane’s Mill residents are adults with experience and speaking to them accordingly. “I always encourage presenters to remember that they are dealing with a well-read audience of former professionals, so it’s OK to go deep,” he says. Residents have even attended lectures based solely on Alexander’s past presentations, such as a lecture on comic book history that drew a huge crowd of people with little or no previous interest in the subject. “When you’re talking to people with a lot more experience than you, learning becomes a two-way encounter—it’s pure gravy. I’ve never left a lecture feeling drained.”

One touching experience came after a presentation on flood legends and Biblical research. A resident was so affected by the talk that he came up to Alexander afterwards to thank him. This resident shared that he appreciated the way Alexander kept the whole audience interested without emphasizing one religious view over another. This approach actually ended up strengthening the resident’s personal beliefs—not the goal of the lecture, but still incredibly moving. It’s moments like these that make Alexander Clemente so proud to be part of La Via Wellness.


About Crane’s Mill

Crane’s Mill is a life plan retirement community located on 48 scenic acres in West Caldwell, New Jersey. A part of Lutheran Social Ministries of New Jersey, Crane’s Mill offers independent living apartments and cottages with the promise of excellent healthcare for the future. Levels of care include assisted living, memory support, rehabilitation, and long-term skilled nursing. For more information, visit www.www.cranesmill.org or call (973) 276-6700.