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Timothy Kelly: Breathing new life into history

Course through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute uses speeches of historical figures performed live in the classroom
 Posted: 2:00 AM September 07, 2013

Timothy Kelly sometimes lives in the past. For his six-week Osher Lifelong Learning Institute course, called "Live! Greatest Speeches in History," he brings history front and center.

After students watch a video about a famous figure — from Adolf Hitler to Martin Luther King — they listen to a live speech performed by a local actor, followed by a class discussion.

Kelly saves a role for himself: Richard Nixon.

On the Podium is a series spotlighting Ashland teachers.

Last year, the class studied John Kennedy, who came alive through Don Matthews' acting. Winston Churchill (Grant Shepard) lectured about never giving up, and Mahatma Gandhi (Bob Brazeau) spoke about nonviolent civil disobedience.

This term, the class will study Mario Cuomo, Mary Church Terrell, Huey Long and others. Abraham Lincoln, as portrayed by Bob Miner, will make a return appearance.

"It is a very entertaining way for people to learn a little history," says Kelly, who lived in Juneau, Alaska, for 25 years and briefly taught algebra there. He moved to Ashland 10 years ago.

Favorite aspect about Ashland: I love the smallness of the town and, of course, all the theater.

What do you like to do in your leisure time? My knees are shot, so I love to ride my bicycle everywhere. It is the only exercise that doesn't hurt.

Give us a few career highlights: Playing Mayor Shinn in "The Music Man."

How do you introduce yourself to your class? I am a local actor with Camelot Theatre and Oregon Stage Works, among other venues, and a history and currency buff.

What's in your teaching future? I am going to teach classes that are more interactive with the students. In the spring, I want to hold a debate class where I ask the students to take the opposite side of their beliefs. It's not new, but I think it will be fun and a learning experience

What do you still have on your to-do list? I am getting a little tired of acting. Have you any suggestions, because I am ready for a new adventure.

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