A Lifelong Love of Learning
Story and photo By David Tirrell-Wysocki
Fiddlehead Contributing Writer
Judi Window discovered early on that college was not for her, but she’s spent a lifetime at classes, workshops and other training sessions to improve herself — and teach others.
“I have no destinations, only journeys,” said Window, of Manchester.
Window is executive director of the nonprofit Morgan Franklin Fellowship Foundation, which presents classes to help people understand personal finances. The busy journey that led her there included being a mom and active grandmother while working, volunteering, learning and teaching.
She started her self-improvement learning at Manchester’s West High School when a guidance counselor said she was not “college material.” Setting out to prove him wrong, Window took afternoon college classes while still at West. After six months, she concluded, reluctantly, that her counselor was right.
Going to college for the sake of going to college was not going to work but taking classes to learn something — that sounded good.
“So, I decided that college was going to be at my discretion,” she said. “Whenever I wanted to learn something, I took a class or engaged somebody to teach me.
“I’m still doing it,” said Window, 61. “I’ll probably do it forever.”
As a bank officer in Manchester in the 1980s and ‘90s, Window said she was the first to put a computer on her desk, helping develop a computerized system for loan officers.
“My boss encouraged me to learn as much as I could, so I was doing things with computers that nobody else even thought of doing because I didn’t know any better. He gave me a book and said, ‘read this.’ I read it and just did it.”
When finding she had time on her hands after the big bank shakeup of the early ‘90s, Window tried community TV, learning to be in front of and behind the camera.
“I learned editing on their big editing equipment,” she said. “I wanted to know about it and control what was on the screen.”
Shortly after Manchester Airport transformed into world-class travel hub in 1994, Window directed the Southern New Hampshire Convention and Visitors Bureau, which led to forming a group called Granite State Ambassadors. She directed the organization and its dedicated corps of green-vested volunteers from 1996 to 2013.
A huge part of the job was training volunteers to be true “ambassadors,” including answering questions from journalists flying in from around the world to cover the New Hampshire Primary. That meant learning about public affairs, public speaking, tourism and media relations.
To help, she turned to the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communications in Manchester, which offers hands-on training in free or inexpensive classes.
“I asked if they could put together a presentation on how to deal with the media, how to answer questions, how to stay on talking points for a broad level of volunteers,” she said.
It was the beginning of Window’s continuing self-improvement relationship with the nonprofit school in Manchester. After learning with her volunteer ambassadors, she took classes and workshops on her own and suggested and taught new classes, including “Social Media,” with preteen granddaughter Kendall as a presenter.
Her “Facebook for the Fun of It” workshop was popular among seniors eager to see the latest photos of their grandchildren. And there was her teenaged grandson Joseph helping participants set up Facebook accounts.
“There is just so much out there that you can learn on a regular basis,” Window said, including some skills outside one’s comfort zone.
For her, it was writing.
“I hadn’t explored writing because I wasn’t good at it,” she said. “But I loved it. The Loeb School instructors got me writing. They got me to understand that writing is important and that how you express yourself … has merits.”
Window said her journey has prepared her well for her job at Morgan Franklin, where her duties involve writing, finances, communications, civics, technology and social media.
“So, everything that I have learned in life is kind of coming around to this particular job,” she said, including technology updates and fundamental changes in teaching free classes.
“It’s based on Granite State Ambassadors and the Nackey Loeb School mindset,” she said. … “learn something today that you can use tomorrow.”
Other jobs related to her Morgan Franklin work mean Window continues her self-improvement goals, learning and teaching others about real estate, affordable housing, manufactured home programs and starting businesses.
Window approaches her personal well-being with the same passion, starting the Keto diet three years ago, losing 50 pounds and spending a month of weekends taking an online course to become a certified Keto coach.
And, she didn’t just attend yoga classes. Window went to a four-day yoga retreat with Deepak Chopra, the internationally known alternative medicine and meditation guru.
Is there a grand plan behind her learning and teaching mindset?
“Maybe it’s because I’m the oldest of seven children,” she said. “Maybe I’m a smarty pants and I just like telling people what I know.”