Making The Grade 2020

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Making The Grade | Thursday, February 27, 2020 | | |


Thursday, February 27, 2020 | Making The Grade

NORTH ADAMS PUBLIC SCHOOLS Empowering All Learners The mission of the North Adams Public Schools is to help every child learn every day and empower all students to recognize and optimize their full potential. | | |

Academic Excellence


Collaboration with MCLA and Williams College for STEM curriculum development and mentorship opportunities

Arts Education Comprehensive Arts Education K-12 Instrumental music instruction, marching and jazz bands and chorale music instruction

Rigorous, research based curriculum and innovative learning experiences such as Project Lead The Way (grades 7 - 12) and a computer science pathway program (grades 9 12)

Drury Performing Arts Center (DPAC) productions throughout the academic year



AP courses offered

Partnership with MASS MoCA

Season athletics program

Continuous Learning State-recognized exemplary 21st Century Community Learning Centers program for after school and summer Career exploration through internships, job shadowing and career speakers Ability to explore colleges and universities through admissions visits and our college and career platform

2 2

Dual enrollment courses offered through MCLA

Contact us: 10 Main Street, Second Floor, North Adams, MA 01247 Phone: (413) 776-1458

Kids 2 College’ program paves STEAM pathways for students Page 5 Students and educators say it’s time to get technical Page 7 Workforce experts share their tips for finding and keeping a job Page 11 Area school districts seek teacher candidates to better reflect their students’ diversity Page 15 Third graders lay out plans for their dream school Page 23 Photographer Laszlo Koval, 17, focuses his lens on humanity Page 26 Local high school graduates to weigh in on their educational experiences Page 29

Making the Grade 2020 team Section editors




Jenn Smith (editorial)

Heather Bellow, Felix Carroll, Danny Jin, Nancy Olson, Jenn Smith

Heather Bellow, Felix Carroll, Nancy Olson, Jenn Smith

Noah Hoffenberg, Lindsey Hollenbaugh, David LaChance, Jimmy Nesbitt, Jenn Smith

Kimberly Kirchner (design and layout)

In this issue

Making the Grade is a publication of New England Newspapers, Inc.

What if courage and creativity mattered as much as calculus in high school? A new initiative is helping to reshape the high school experience Page 35 At Berkshire County Head Start, diversity is not a goal, it’s state of being Page 41 Advertiser Index

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“They’ll never make a robot that can do this work,” says Jake Charbonneau, a senior carpentry student at Charles H. McCann Technical School in North Adams, Mass. The school has a student population of 508. Students can chose to focus on advanced manufacturing technology, automotive, computeraided design, carpentry, culinary arts, electrical, internet technology, or metal fabrication. Story, page 7.

Making The Grade | Thursday, February 27, 2020


What will the future hold for current students? New jobs, diverse classrooms, school buildings with gardens and waterslides? This year’s Making the Grade team visited local schools and spoke with students and educators as well as business experts and alumni to find out how school systems as we know them are changing, in hopes of better preparing students to take on the rest of the 21st century.


Thursday, February 27, 2020 | Making The Grade


Kindergarten Workshop: Wednesday, March 11 at 6:30 p.m. in the LES Library for parents of enrolling kindergarten students to explain registration process. Kindergarten Registration: Wednesday, April 1 Call 243-0336 prior to April 1 for information and to obtain a Registration Packet. Children now attending Kindergarten at Lee Elementary do not need to register for Grade 1. To attend kindergarten next September, a child must be 4 years, 11 months on or before September 1. | | |



You Must Present Birth Certificate and Immunizations Record. A Parent or Guardian Must Register All Children.


Kindergarten Screening: Wednesday, April 29 and Thursday, April 30. Appointments are necessary and will be given at Kindergarten Registration on April 1.


Kindergarten Orientation: Thursday, May 14 More information will be provided at the March 11 workshop.


Must be 3 or 4 years on or before October 1. Wednesday, April 15, Thursday, April 16 & Friday, April 17. Appointment is necessary for screening which is required for potential peer models in the integrated preschool program. Call 243-9715 for information and to schedule an appointment.


Making The Grade | Thursday, February 27, 2020 JENN SMITH — THE BERKSHIRE EAGLE

‘Kids 2 College’ program paves STEAM pathways for students By Jenn Smith The Berkshire Eagle NORTH ADAMS, MASS. ­— AnnaMaria Se-

bastino has a lot of ambitious students in her Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts classroom: Jayda wants to be an actress. Liam wants to work at a grocery store. Paige wants to be both an artist and construction worker. Fortunately, they’ve still got quite a bit of time to figure out how to hone their skills and talents. Sebastino is in her third year working with Northern Berkshire elementary school students through the MCLA-based Kids 2 College afterschool program. Third grader Jayda Klein is just finishing her second year with Kids 2 College. “If you like to travel and learn about different things and learn how things work, you can come and learn different activities,” she said.

“We do very hands-on, projectbased learning,” Sebastino said. “We make things foam and fizz and float.” Supported by grant funding through the Help Yourself Foundation and the 21st Century Community Learning Centers, Kids 2 College helps children in grades 3 through 6 explore the STEAM fields of science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics. The program offers them opportunities to learn about how to advance into STEAM-based college majors and career fields. Sebastino serves as the academic leader for the program supported by teaching assistant Ashley Mirante, new program and grant coordinator Shevaun Keogh-Walker, and 21st Century site coordinator Noella Carlow. Carlow said brochures are circulated throughout North Adams Public Schools inviting interested students to register; up to 20 students are accepted into each of the two groups that meet twice a week after

school. There are two sessions each year, from October to mid-February, and from late-February to June. There are no fees for the program, but program staff do suggest a $35 donation to help offset costs for materials and snacks. In addition to doing on-campus activities, the Kids 2 College “scholars,” as Sebastino calls them, have gone on field trips to the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, Susan B. Anthony Birthplace Museum, Northern Berkshire Community Television among other sites in the community. At each site, Sebastino encourages social interactions, asking the students questions and introducing them to various staff members. “I want the students to meet different people who have different careers. It’s one thing to talk about careers, it’s another to see it in action,” she said.

Putting possibilities in reach Each year, Sebastino said, the program develops more community partners who often donate their time to talk with the students, or offer free admission to their venue. Klein, the aspiring young actress, said she also likes coming to the MCLA campus to take part in the program and visit places like the science laboratories, the college’s inflatable Starlab planetarium and the campus greenhouse. “I think it’s pretty cool to know what [college is] like,” she said. For third-grader Cameron Reynolds, this is his first visit to a higher education campus. “We made a lava lamp and [we] make slime and do lots of activities,” he said, adding that he’s excited to start another session. Earlier this month, his mother and sister joined him for the win- | | |

A Kids 2 College exhibit at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts explains how the participants visited the college’s greenhouse and raised caterpillars into butterflies and moths.


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“I myself am a firstgeneration college student in my family. Often times [the kids] think college is out of reach for them. I want them to see there are ways for them to achieve those dreams and those goals.” — AnnaMaria Sebastino, academic leader, Kids 2 College ter session finale, the Kids 2 College Family Night, which includes hands-on science activities, snacks. It also includes a screening of a film Sebastino puts together each session of the group’s field trips, activities and interviews she does with each young scholar. The boy’s mother, Brandie Reynolds, said the family recently moved to the Berkshires from a community she felt was lacking after-school and summer programs for elementary school-aged children.

“We’re grateful,” she said of Kids 2 College. “We love it.” Sebastino said that whatever pathway her scholars choose to explore, she wants them to see opportunities and possibilities. “I myself am a first-generation college student in my family. Often times [the kids] think college is out of reach for them. I want them to see there are ways for them to achieve those dreams and those goals,” Sebastino said. Carlow, the 21st Century program site coordinator for North Adams Public Schools, said Sebastino has played an integral role in the program’s success. During this recent session, 18 out of a total of 37 participants were returning alumni. For this upcoming session, out of the 40 kids enrolled, 17 are alumni, and some of the newcomers are siblings of students who have previously attended Kids 2 College. “She does amazing with it,” Carlow said of Sebastino. “She really connects with families and reaches out to them a lot, which is huge. She gets them to show up.” Jenn Smith can be reached at jsmith@, at @JennSmith_ Ink on Twitter and 413-496-6239.

Excuse us for “Toot-oring” our own horn, but here’s what others say: Tutoring has given our daughter the confidence to achieve greater things in school. She is now more confident and is one of the best students in her class. —Parent of Middle School Tutoring Student

I feel like I accomplished something every time I walk out of The Tutorial Center and it feels great! —Student

I am convinced that if our son did not have the opportunity he had attending The Tutorial Center, he surely would have failed geometry. —Parent of High School Tutoring Student

The Tutorial Center helped me realize that I am smart. —Student

After taking the SAT Prep Class my daughter increased her score by more than 50 points on both tests!


Learning and using the formulas to make bubbles and slime are perennial favorites among the activities offered in the Kids 2 College elementary after-school program.

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Walking across the graduation stage was the proudest moment of my entire life.



—Adult Ed High School Graduate


Making The Grade | Thursday, February 27, 2020

A fair trade Students and educators say it’s time to get technical By Felix Carroll The Berkshire Eagle correspondent


Charles H. McCann Technical School freshman Jacob Montoya is studying to be an electrician. Above, he reads the schematics for installing a circuit breaker. you name it. Industry leaders and policymakers say more jobs are available than the population of skilled workers can provide. Schools throughout the region are responding by expanding or completely overhauling their vocational education offerings, such that high school students can now graduate with industry recognized credentials, college credits and job offers. Indeed, in secondary education, a paradigm shift is in full swing, and it’s shattering stigmas once associated with technical education. “Back in the day, tech-ed used to be ‘where the other kids go’ — that

‘if you’re not going to college, you enter a trade.’ And that’s not it at all anymore,” said Nicole Sauer, educational and community outreach coordinator for the Southwest Vermont Career Development Center in Bennington, Vt., which prepares students for a career in the trades. What was once called voc-tech has been rebranded and reimagined. Career and technical education (CTE), they now call it. The course loads are rigorous, the training is state-of-the-art, and the careers beyond graduation are potentially lucrative.

Training in the trades Alarmed by the shortage of skilled workers, a construction industry advocacy group in Vermont has led a publicity campaign promoting the trades to students as early as in elementary school. In the Berkshires, schools that have historically focused on preparing students for college are now prioritizing their efforts toward training in the trades. “There’s a skills gap, no question,” said Richard Wobby Jr., executive | | |

Stand in the hallway, close your eyes and listen. Behind closed doors, metal, wood and wire are being cut, bent, and bored through. Those are the sounds of bankable career skills. Go through that classroom door to the right, and there’s Paige Dufur, 16, learning the finer points of hydraulic presses, oxy-acetylene welding and computer numerical control machining tools. Her dream is to be the first welder and metal fabricator in her family. Go through another door, and there’s Ryan Baron, 18, snipping wires for the installation of a simulated fire alarm system. He’s already living the dream: When he’s not in the high school classroom, he’s earning $14 an hour through on-thejob training with Gigliotti Electric. Lately, he’s been working on a crew wiring a mansion in Williamstown and installing solar panels at Williams College. He’ll have a full-time job with Gigliotti upon graduation this spring. Further down the hall, the muffled sounds of table saws, nail guns and hammers ricochet off the wall. “They’re not building bird houses in there,” said Justin Kratz, the principal of this school, Charles H. McCann Technical School in North Adams. Open the door, and you see students — boys and girls — in a large warehouse constructing a series of truncated houses that they’ll later disassemble. They’ve framed them, sheathed them, drywalled them, and installed windows, doors, roofs and staircases. None of this is for naught. These students and hundreds more like them throughout the region are the future skilled tradespeople that the job market needs — in some cases, desperately. Pick a trade: auto technology, culinary arts, horticulture, electrical, plumbing, metal work, carpentry,


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What tradespeople make According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, here are the annual mean wage for workers in the trades based on nationwide figures: • Agricultural workers — $34,340 • Automotive service technicians and mechanics — $43,730 • Carpenters — $51,120 • Chefs and head cooks — $52,160 • Construction equipment operators — $52,190

• Electricians — $59,190 • Foundation, structure, and building exterior contractors — $60,070 • Industrial machinery mechanics — $48,540 • Plumbers — $56,980 • Tool and die makers — $53,650 • Welders — $44,360


A sign that reads, “Hire a teenager while they still know everything,” hangs outside a shop door at Charles H. McCann Technical School in North Adams, Mass.


Paige Dufur, 16, is learning the finer points of hydraulic presses, oxy-acetylene and computer numerical control machining tools at Charles H. McCann Technical School in North Adams, Mass. Here, she shows off some tools of the trade and a wye branch duct fitting she welded in her school’s shop. Her dream is to be the first welder and metal fabricator in her family.

vice president of the Associated General Contractors of Vermont, based in Montpelier. The group’s recent publicity campaign targets parents of young children who might have an outdated idea of vocational education. Accounting for the demands for tradespeople and an aging and retiring workforce, Vermont will need to fill about 5,000 construction-related jobs within the next five years, he said. “Our present youth cannot backfill that whole piece,” Wobby said. “This is not just Vermont; this is national. I’m talking about carpenters, plumbers, electricians, machinists, equipment operators, welders — the whole mix.” That sentiment is seconded in the Berkshires where the regional economic development report Berkshires Blueprint 2.0 concluded, “There is a significant gap between the skills base in the county and the need companies have for skilled workers.” “We’re short in skilled labor in Western Massachusetts, period,” said Scott LePrevost, president of Henry’s Electric in Lee, Mass. “I think anyone you talk to, whether it’s a restaurant or a contractor or whomever, to find skilled labor is very difficult right now.” Even in manufacturing, which continues to shed jobs overall in Berkshire County, “the replacement demand is high as the workforce continues to age and move towards retirement,” according to Berkshire Blueprint, which was released last year. Those conclusions are playing out in real time. Companies such as Deerfield Machine and Tool, Cavallero Plastics Inc., General Dynam-

ics, Berkshire Precision Tool and TOG Manufacturing have turned to high schoolers at McCann for help. Tom Matuszak, a teacher in McCann’s Advanced Manufacturing Technology Department, said that nine out of 14 of his seniors are already earning a paycheck working for local manufacturers. “I wish I had that opportunity when I was in high school,” Matuszak said. Dozens of businesses throughout the region now are offering internships and apprenticeships to qualified high schoolers. For instance, Keegan Coon, 17, a senior studying the building trades at Southwest Vermont Career Development Center, earns $15 an hour working at the $50 million Putnam Block redevelopment project in Bennington. “I get paid to go to high school,” he said. “Not bad.” Mitch Bresett of B&B Micro Manufacturing in Adams, Mass., has hired two McCann carpentry graduates so far and additionally has taken on four students under a co-op program with the school. “I’m looking to grab a couple more students in the spring,” he says. “It definitely works for me.” Apart from McCann, which has traditionally focused on the trades, many Berkshire County schools have been in the process of boosting their CTE programs based on workforce needs. “The trades have been screaming out that they need people,” said educator Sean Flynn. Look no further than Flynn’s job title itself for proof the schools are listening. A longtime guidance

A shifting culture

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Justin Kratz is principal of Charles H. McCann Technical School in North Adams and its 508 trades students. Teens chose to study and practice in the advanced manufacturing technology, automotive, computer-aided design, carpentry, culinary arts, electrical, internet technology or metal fabrication fields.

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“There has definitely been a shift, culturally, in accepting that, not only can you earn a sustainable and livable wage in the trades, but it’s what students want to do,” said Matthew Bishop, Taconic High School’s principal. Are there concerns that all these efforts could amount to an overcorrection? Not yet. Tammy Gage, Pittsfield Public Schools’ assistant superintendent for college and career readiness, explains that, for vocational technical education programs to receive approval by the state (known as Chapter 74), schools have to provide proof for current and future occupational growth in the industry. “So it’s not just opening programs for the sake of it,” she said. “We take our lead not only from industry, but the MassHire board that produces the Berkshire Blueprint.” At McCann, sophomore Paige Dufur is optimistic for a secure future in more ways than one. “I want to work for Lenco,” she said, referring to the Pittsfield-based manufacturer of armored Vehicles.

Making The Grade | Thursday, February 27, 2020

counselor for Monument Mountain Regional High School in Great Barrington, Mass., Flynn was appointed the school’s career and vocational technical education coordinator in 2018, a new position. In collaboration with Construct Inc., Greenagers and Railroad Street Youth Project, Monument Mountain launched the Pathways to the Trades initiative in December. The program gives students handson experience at construction sites and working farms. About a dozen students are participating. The effort builds upon the school’s other vocational offerings, which include woodworking, automotive, horticulture and its new advanced manufacturing program in partnership with Boyd Technologies in Lee. Farther north in Pittsfield, educators at the new $120.8 million Taconic High School, which opened last fall, say that by next school year, nearly half of its student population of about 814 students will be enrolled in career and technical education classes. That includes health care technology; cosmetology; culinary arts; early childhood education; horticulture; auto technology, auto collision, repair and refinishing; advanced manufacturing; and electrical.


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Want to keep a job? Start by showing up on time Workforce experts share their tips for finding and keeping a job By Nancy A. Olson Brattleboro Reformer correspondent

‘Work hard’ The MassHire Berkshire Career Center ( based in Pittsfield, Mass., is a partnership between Berkshire Training & Employment Program and the MassHire Department of Career Services designed to provide quality programs and services to employers, job seekers and its community partners. MassHire serves all 32 cities and towns in Berkshire County, and consults with the Berkshire Workforce Board. According to the MassHire website, the board is composed of knowledgeable, influential business

and community leaders appointed by Pittsfield’s mayor on behalf of the 32 Berkshire County communities. The board has two specific roles: to serve as the oversight and policymaking body for federally funded employment and training services in the region, and address critical labor market issues by developing strategic partnerships with local leaders in economic development, the K-12 and higher education system, government agencies, chambers of commerce, and communitybased and labor organizations. Based on her work with the board, Boulger said that young people in high school or college who seek to

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When it comes to finding a job, of course it’s important to have the skills that fit the bill. But the region’s workforce experts say it’s even more important for prospective employees to demonstrate that they will show up on time, work hard and can stay motivated in the workplace. “Companies are willing to train the right person, that is, someone who may not have the necessary industry-specific skills but who fits in with the company’s culture,” said MassHire Berkshire Career Center

Executive Director Heather Boulger. “Employers want employees who are motivated, excited, and willing to work hard.” Brattleboro Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kate O’Connor echoed the necessity of job seekers having a strong set of the so-called soft skills. “The biggest gripe employers share with me,” she said, “is that they hire people who then don’t show up for work. Employers are willing to train people who are consistent and show up.”

Making The Grade | Thursday, February 27, 2020



Thursday, February 27, 2020 | Making The Grade | | |

What employers want MassHire Berkshire Career Center Executive Director Heather Boulger said its Berkshire Workforce Board has met with more than 200 employers over the past several months. Board members and those surveyed have indicated the following as the most important skills sets they look for in potential employees: • Essential skills (formerly known as “soft skills”): problem solving, critical thinking (the process of understanding, analyzing and evaluating information which is then used in making informed decisions), decision-making, communicating clearly with others and the ability to work both independently and as part of a team • Communication and customer service skills: communicating clearly and articulately, engaging pleasantly, listening actively and following directions • Management skills: attributes of leadership, such as professionalism and manageability; ability to analyze information (take notes and make sense of the information); adaptability and flexibility (able to take the initiative, or to accept and offer constructive criticism) • Technology/computer skills include familiarity with Microsoft, Google, social media and multimedia platforms. • Creativity and imagination.


acquire the skills that will make them employable should participate in as many internships as possible. “Internships expose young people to a variety of occupations that they may not have thought about,” she said. “Also, students should take STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) courses, as those are the fastest growing careers.” Another important attribute, Boulger said, is a commitment to lifelong learning. “Always take a new course to expose yourself to new experiences,” she said. “Don’t be afraid to take a chance. Follow your passion. Work hard. Find a way to say yes to things and be prepared to fail. You will fail. It’s inevitable. It’s what you do with that failure that matters. Learn from your adversity and move on.”

‘Soft skills’ matter In June 2019, the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation ( published a white paper online titled, “What is a ‘Good Job’? Defining Opportunity in Southern Vermont.” In it, Alex Beck, BDCC workforce and education program manager, writes

that the “importance of and need for self-advocacy, self-reliance and grit as they relate directly to successful career outcomes, should be taught, practiced and reinforced. Armed with this knowledge, all students will feel empowered as they traverse the job exploration, application, and negotiation process.” To address these needs, the BDCC in 2018 launched the Pipelines and Pathways Program (P3) initiative, a high school career awareness and preparedness program the goal of which is to improve post-graduation outcomes for all Windham County youth. The program, according to a news release, assists in developing workforce-oriented curricula, expanding classroom relationships and growing work-based learning opportunities with local employers. It also supports teachers as they help students develop and implement their personalized learning plans, which are mandated by the state’s Flexible Pathways Initiative. [See page 42 for P3’s Scope and Sequence of Career Education Worksheet.] P3 coordinator Christy Betit works with the four high schools in Windham County. By offering worksite tours to

school personnel, she said, “We are hoping to bring greater awareness of career opportunities to guidance counselors and other educators so that they can better guide students through coursework that prepares students for chosen careers.” While specific occupations require specific skills, Betit said, everyone needs the foundational “soft skills.” These range from punctuality, attendance and organizational skills to conflict resolution, working on a team, taking initiative, creative problem-solving, and maintaining a positive outlook, among others. “It’s important for people to understand that many employers will train people who have the capacity to show up and learn,” she added. “I will say, in addition to soft skills, preparing resumes and cover letters, and participating in mock interviews — all topics we’ve covered at many of our schools — are obviously all very important to being hired. We would like to see every student participate in resume and interview prep within the county.” Nancy A. Olson writes frequently for the Brattleboro Reformer and Southern Vermont Landscapes. She can be reached at

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Education doubles down in the Berkshires By 1Berkshire

Clockwise: Williams College, MCLA, General Dynamics ing program, focused on supporting the workforce needs of General Dynamics, and the opening of their Pittsfield location in spring 2019. Additional examples of this commitment can be found in Berkshire Community College’s Hospitality Fast Track program and their newly launched Cannabis concentration, which each offer students a targeted, high impact set of training to get them ready to become key players in the regional hospitality and cannabis industries, respectively. These agile educational offerings not only create opportunities to build the local workforce capacity, but they show a direct commitment to advancing the regional economy through education and training. One of the most exciting aspects of how regional education partners are playing a role in addressing our workforce gap actually goes far beyond education, and transitions into recruitment. The double-down that we’ve seen has taken the form of their collective support of our 1Berkshire jobs thing portal. You may be surprised to learn that the lead sponsor of the jobs thing is a cooperative

group called Teach Berkshires. This collaboration of all the public school districts not only posts numerous positions paying at least $40,000+ per year, but their support makes it possible for the system to promote hundreds of positions every year as we work to recruit new people to the Berkshires to live, work, and play. Additionally, both Williams College and Berkshire Community College have joined the portal as sponsors, adding additional support that bolsters the marketing capacity and helps us reach literally millions of people who might be looking to call the Berkshires home. This direct investment in recruitment is a true double down, and not only an investment in their own organizations, but a high-impact investment in the entire economy of the Berkshires. We are at a critical point in the regional economic ecosystem. We have many well-paying jobs and not enough trained workers to fill them. It will continue to take many hands, numerous initiatives, and a large amount of collective impact work to turn a corner on our skills gap. However, collaboration has al-


ways been a source of strength in the Berkshires. Knowing that our public school systems and regional higher education partners are raising the bar and supporting efforts of training and recruitment like never before, we see great things on the horizon, and are excited to work together on this journey.

About 1Berkshire

1Berkshire is a county-wide organization focused on economic development and promotion of the region as a preferred place to visit, to live, and to grow a business. It provides programs that connect businesses with each other and with potential customers and works to develop future leaders and support entrepreneurs.

For more information, visit | | |

Berkshire employers face a very real challenge. We have more open positions than we have trained people to fill them. It is a significant difference from years past, when there were not enough jobs for everyone who needed work. While this new reality of a work-skills gap exists, it is an altogether better challenge to face, because we have an educational community focused on addressing the gap head-on. In a traditional sense, our educational bodies, from early childcare through technical school, secondary school, and higher education, are working to provide the skills and training necessary to create the next generation of Berkshire workforce. Each year this locally-grown pipeline produces around 1,000 high school graduates and around 1,000 college graduates from our three primary college campuses. While our education system works incredibly hard to train and educate individuals, the number of graduates of the system who choose to stay in the Berkshires is insufficient to fill the workforce demand. In addition to this traditional context, our educational partners across the Berkshires have also become key players in initiatives that look more comprehensively at the workforce ecosystem. Through the Berkshire Workforce Skills Cabinet, education, economic development, and workforce partners have come together to answer a charge from the Governor to align their efforts in new and dynamic ways. In this alignment, educational programs are able to adjust and support the needs of both the employers of the region and the overall economy. With Berkshire Community College’s President, Ellen Kennedy, as one of the tri-chairs of this group, and with representatives from both McCann Technical School and Pittsfield Public Schools, a renewed effort to focus the lens of regional education on filling our skills gap is underway. Specialized training opportunities, and increased access have become integral pipeline supports. Prime examples of this can be found in MCLA’s Electrical Engineer-

Making The Grade | Thursday, February 27, 2020



Thursday, February 27, 2020 | Making The Grade

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Making The Grade | Thursday, February 27, 2020

Reflecting pool Area school districts seek teacher candidates to better reflect their students’ diversity

By Danny Jin Berkshire Eagle correspondent

Growing up attending Pittsfield’s public schools, Olivia Nda had never had a teacher of color. “I was recognizing that as a person of color in my community, I wasn’t being well represented,” she said. “I just felt like I wasn’t really a part of my school community, and when you feel disconnected from your school community, it’s hard to be invested as a student.” Nda is African American and a member of the Pittsfield High School Class of 2018. The year she graduat- | | |


Teach Pittsfield fellow Damarcus Marshall, a senior at Alabama State University, helps Sakora Knight, 6, with her school work during a summer school program at Morningside Community School in Pittsfield, Mass. Marshall and other college students from around the country visited the Berkshires as part of a state grant that the Pittsfield school district received to attract young teachers from diverse backgrounds to the area.


Thursday, February 27, 2020 | Making The Grade | | | 16


Teach Pittsfield fellows play field games with students in a summer school program at Morningside Community School in Pittsfield, Mass. The student teachers were part of a grant-funded pilot program to introduce young teachers from diverse backgrounds to the city in hopes of recruiting them to teach there. While there are a growing number of nonwhite children in Pittsfield schools, the number of teachers of color in the district has remained somewhat stagnant. ed, nearly 11 percent of students in the district also identified as African American. But only about 5 percent of teachers and staff in the school shared the same race. Nda, now a sophomore studying urban education at Howard University, said her family provided the support system necessary for her to succeed academically, although she recognized that wasn’t the case for some other students of color at her schools. Last summer, Nda was one of 12 students from historically black colleges and universities

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backgrounds to match the growing diversity of their student bodies. The challenge is fostering a space for a diverse workforce in hallways that historically have been homogenous. “We have to make more effort to create a welcoming environment so when people come, they will want to stay,” said Shirley Edgerton, cultural proficiency coach at Pittsfield Public Schools. “Because the reality is if you don’t, then you will have an issue with retention.”

For the program pilot, Edgerton suggested partnering with HBCUs as an “untapped resource” for teacher candidates. Teach Pittsfield functions as an important step in that process, according to administrators and teachers who participated last summer. The program helped not only to connect young teachers with Pittsfield Public Schools as an employer but also to allow the district to learn from those teachers about how the district could make itself a

more welcoming and supportive environment for teachers of color. “We just spent a lot of time with these young people just in conversation about what could we do to be more appealing as the school district and as a community [for them] to come here from far away and make this home,” said Pittsfield Superintendent Jake McCandless. Future efforts may focus on fostering networks of community among teachers of color through formal or informal mentorship. Other steps may include designing a more multicultural curriculum, Edgerton said, as well as plans to promote cultural awareness in the broader community.

‘Tremendous challenges’ to recruitment and retention | | |


Teach Pittsfield fellow Olivia Nda, a sophomore at Howard University, reads with Isabella Thomlinson, 8, during a summer school program at Morningside Community School in Pittsfield, Mass.

Nationally, student populations are becoming increasingly racially and ethnically diverse. During the 2015-16 school year, data collected by the National Center for Education Statistics indicated that while 80 percent of U.S. public school teachers were white, the majority of public school students, 51 percent, were nonwhite. In Massachusetts, while about 40 percent of public school students are people of color, only 8 percent of teachers are nonwhite. For Pittsfield’s 2018-19 school year, 36 percent of students were nonwhite, yet nearly 94 percent of the district’s full-time staff was white. Last spring, Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley issued a memo to state board members revealing the lack of people of color enrolling in a state educator preparation program and higher attrition rates among African-American and Hispanic teachers compared to their white colleagues. Nationally, fewer young people of color are going into the teaching profession. According to the department’s data from the 2016-17 academic year, there were 552 African American candidates enrolled in state teacher preparation programs, literally half the number (1,110) of African American teacher candidates enrolled in the same programs five years earlier. McCandless said these factors can

Making The Grade | Thursday, February 27, 2020

(HBCUs) to teach in Pittsfield Public Schools as part of a pilot program that seeks to strengthen recruitment and retention of a diverse teaching staff in the district. With funding from a state grant, Pittsfield is completing a second wave of “Teach Pittsfield” this May, when it plans to welcome back several interns from the previous summer, in addition to some new teachers. Pittsfield and other local districts have prioritized hiring teachers of underrepresented


Thursday, February 27, 2020 | Making The Grade | | | 18

make recruiting teachers of color difficult. In general, he said, many young teachers, particularly those attending colleges and universities outside of the region, may not know about Pittsfield. And in surrounding areas such as the Capital Region of eastern New York and the Pioneer Valley of central Massachusetts, schools tend to offer higher salaries and greater proximity to urban lifestyles that many young professionals seek. “There’s tremendous challenges,” McCandless said. “We’re really trying to learn as much as we can about all of these factors. We see this as among our very highest priorities.” In southern Vermont, similar issues exist, although the majority of the student and teacher population statewide is white. “Although lack racial diversity in Vermont is a known issue, we strive to create an environment that allows all members of our community to feel accepted and represented,” Katie West, the Southwest Vermont Supervisory Union’s public information coordinator, wrote in an email. The school union is part of a multi-district collaborative working to address issues of equity when it comes to student literacy. In 2017, Vermont’s Attorney General and Human Rights Commission Task Force took a deep dive into examining racial disparities within its school systems. The group’s recommendations in response ranged from increasing staff diversity and cultural training to providing loan forgiveness programs as an incentive to recruit and retain teachers of color. Mikaela Simms, diversity coordinator at Brattleboro Union High School, said that self-reflection is necessary for schools to make their working environments more welcoming. “I think that really building up our knowledge and our study, looking at our own blind spots, being ready to accept people of different backgrounds is important for when they come,” Simms said. In higher education, administrative structure, curricular diversity and faculty-of-color retention rates can serve as indicators of how welcoming a campus is, says Delia Saenz, vice president of diversity and inclusion at Bennington College. “For faculty of color, what really is important is finding an intellectual-

color to prepare them “for what the world outside looks like.” Lisa Thurston-Flynn, now a third grade teacher in Vermont’s Bennington Elementary School, grew up a multiracial student attending Bennington public schools when “there were no teachers of color at all.” Her mother is Caucasian and her father is African American. “It wasn’t just teachers,” Thurston-Flynn said. “I felt like I was basically living in a community of people that didn’t look like me at all.” Now, Thurston-Flynn has had several students whose parents requested her because they wanted their child to have a teacher of color, she said. “I feel like I’m in a position to be an example, a positive example,” Thurston-Flynn said. “I tell kids I grew up in a trailer park. I didn’t have anybody in my family that went to college … I wasn’t a traditional college student, but I worked and I worked myself through college.”

Next steps


Students in the summer school program at Morningside Community School in Pittsfield, Mass., thanked the Teach Pittsfield fellows with this note on their classroom door. The note reads: “Dear Student Teachers, Thank you so much for coming to our camp this week. You helped us learn and grow. We had so much fun with you! We hope you will come back to visit. Thanks again!” ly stimulating and receptive home,” Saenz said. “It can be very isolating if you don’t have colleagues who are engaged in the same type of work or if there is a devaluing of that work.”

‘That whole impact of looking in a mirror’ Citing state data, McCandless found that African American and Latino future-teachers represent fewer than 10 percent of those preparing to be educators in Massachusetts, while more than 30 percent of the state’s students are African American or Latino. Another 7 per-

cent of students identify as Asian, while about 4 percent of students come have a multi-racial background. Oft-cited research shows that students of color who have at least one teacher of color are more likely to graduate and less likely to face disciplinary action. “It’s like that whole impact of looking in a mirror,” Edgerton said. “For them to believe that they can be a superintendent or principal or a professor, it’s much more likely that they will be successful if they see someone that looks like themself.” Moreover, Simms said she believes it’s important to acquaint white students with teachers of

McCandless said that he hopes that, through Teach Pittsfield, the district can form relationships with HBCUs so that students at those colleges who are seeking careers in education can view Pittsfield as an option. Troy Webster, a senior at Alabama State University in Montgomery, said he had never heard of Pittsfield before seeing an email publicizing last summer’s program, and he called the experience of teaching in Pittsfield “eye-opening.” “I learned a lot, actually,” said Webster, who is considering returning to Pittsfield to teach music fulltime. “The people who brought us in and who allowed us to intern there were amazing. And just from them welcoming me to intern there — that’s why I want to come back, not only for the students, but for them as well.” The district will continue to incorporate input from its interns, officials said. “It was one of the best weeks that any of us who were part of the grant have ever had because we learned so much from them,” curriculum director Judy Rush, who co-wrote the grant application with Cynthia Schwartz, said of last summer’s iteration of the program. For instance, the district heard from interns that providing mentor-

Making The Grade | Thursday, February 27, 2020


Teach Pittsfield fellows present some of their observations from a summer school program at Morningside Community School in Pittsfield, Mass.


one of the last years it was offered, said that financial support helped her start her teaching career. She believes similar programs offering financial assistance can make a difference for young teachers of color. Nda said she hopes these invest-

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ship for teachers of color in addition to the district’s existing teacher induction program might offer support for “some of the cultural aspects of moving to an area that is predominantly white,” Rush said. In Bennington, Thurston-Flynn is part of the Community Circle for Equity and Action, which meets to discuss diversity and inclusion, and also plans multicultural events. In Brattleboro, Simms said the district received funding to host dinners for faculty and staff of color. “There are unique challenges that professionals of color are going to need support with, need to speak openly and honestly about,” McCandless said. Pittsfield’s other plans may include offering greater support with finding housing and paying for education, Rush said. Thurston-Flynn, who received a scholarship from the Vermont Teacher Diversity Scholarship Program in


Thursday, February 27, 2020 | Making The Grade | | | The Berkshire Eagle | 20

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Thursday, February 27, 2020 | Making The Grade

Making The Grade | Thursday, February 27, 2020

School: Reimagined. Third graders lay out plans for their dream school Curated by Jenn Smith The Berkshire Eagle

Turn the page to view the students’ “ultimate school” proposals.



Kimberly Rougeau’s third-grade class at Clarksburg (Mass.) Elementary School put on their designer hats to draft colorful floor plans for their ultimate school design.

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CLARKSBURG, MASS. — Would you want to go to a school with moving walls, mushroom seating, lush gardens and a waterslide? We put out an RFP — that’s a snappy business acronym for request for proposals — to thirdgrade students in Kimberly Rougeau’s class at Clarksburg Elementary School, asking them to draw a picture and describe what their ultimate school would look like. They returned 14 colorfully illustrated floor plans and vision statements, each signing off with, “I wish my ultimate school design could become a reality.” We thank the following class members for their creative contributions: Emerson Bullett, Ci-

ara Crockwell, Jayla Devio, Emily Domenichini, Reighan Douglas, Carson Ellsworth, Josh Field, Colby Gelinas, Dakota Hurlbut, Brynn Laforest, Madison Molleur, Colton Randall, Elliot Troop, Tenley Wood. Next year, they said, we should ask teachers about their dream schools. So, we started with Rougeau, who said, “I would have it much, much bigger so I could have designated learning spaces ready to go and I wasn’t trying to change [the room] from subject to subject. I would really love, love retractable walls so I could co-teach with a teacher really easily. Those would be my two big things for now.”


Thursday, February 27, 2020 | Making The Grade

Excerpts from students’ vision statements: 1. “My design has a pond where the playground is for students to study animals and play. A garden surrounds three sides of the school. … The garden flowers are the school’s colors.” — Ciara Crockwell 2. “My design has two art rooms. There [are] students that are frustrated and need to take a break.” — Emily Domenichini 3. “My school design includes an elevator to help people in wheelchairs get to other floors.” — Tenley Wood 4. “My design has one small gym and one big gym. My school also has learning games. All the specials are in their own room so they don’t have to share a room.” — Carson Ellsworth 5. “My design has a separate cafeteria so the tables don’t have to get put away for P.E.” — Reighan Douglas | | |

6. “My school has a student support center


for kids to go when they are sad, angry, upset. I have a Garden room. The Garden room has six flowers.” — Brynn Laforest 7. “My school has a weight room to get strong and become a big body builder. It also has a[n] auditorium. Also a huge computer room.” — Colton Randall 8. “My school has a Hall of Fame [where] all of the great students’ pictures are. My school has a cafeteria separate from the gym with round tables and mushroom chairs that are squishy.” — Josh Field 9. “My school has rooms focusing on different subjects such as volcanoes, oceans and gardening. I have two extra classrooms in case there are more students. The whole school has sliding walls so that classrooms join together.” — Elliot Troop 10. “There is a Lego room for recess and after school. My school has its own technology room. My design has magic doors. You

just hold up your hands and it will open.” — Colby Gelinas 11. “My design has an office for every specialist so they have their own spot without a lot of clutter. There is a gym with a gymnastics room built in it. This design has more space between lockers so students don’t get squished.” — Jayla Devio 12. Madison Molleur’s design includes a generously sized gym, concert stage, music room, art room, gymnastics room for girls and a colorful teacher’s lounge. 13. “There is a garden for students to work in. The vegetables would be used in the cafeteria. … The school mascot is a horse.” — Dakota Hurlbut 14. “My school also includes seventeen bathrooms so students don’t have to wait. … My school has a swimming pool because my school has swimming lessons.” — Emerson Bullett

Making The Grade | Thursday, February 27, 2020 | | |


Thursday, February 27, 2020 | Making The Grade | | | 26


Housatonic resident Laszlo Koval, 17, earned a gold medal from the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards Program for this photo of Sukun, a young immigrant from Afghanistan who was trying to cross a tight Hungarian border. Not allowed to take a picture of his face, Koval made this portrait of Sukun standing alone in a Serbian field while holding a mirror to the sun last August.

Laszlo Koval, 17, focuses his lens on humanity By Heather Bellow The Berkshire Eagle GREAT BARRINGTON, MASS. — Sukun is standing alone in a Serbian field while holding a mirror to the sun last August. The young immigrant from Afghanistan is one of many struggling to cross a tight Hungarian border while fleeing the Middle East for Europe. But Laszlo Koval, 17, of Housatonic, says his gold medal-winning photo is about human beings whose individuality is hidden within their group status. “I wasn’t allowed to show faces,” Koval said of his work photographing immigrants he met working through Jesuit Refugee Services. “So it’s about the invisibility of migrants. I try to separate them into individual people and show their humanity. Hungary portrays them as trying to invade Hungary, but most are trying to find their lives in Europe.” A junior at Monument Mountain

Regional High School, Koval said the project was one of several sparked by his passion for photojournalism, in part as a way to sidestep “big media” portrayals of people and situations — a way to get at the truth. Koval’s father is from Pittsfield, and his mother is from Hungary. The family moved from Budapest when he was 10. He was about 7 when he began “playing with a camera.” He kept playing, until at age 13, he met John Stanmeyer, a locally based photojournalist who works with National Geographic. “It was then that I learned that photography could be used to tell stories,” he said. “Since then, it has really been the stories that have driven me.” Last month, Koval won two gold and two silver medals from the Massachusetts Art Region of the 2020 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards Program. The national program is administered by the New York Citybased Alliance for Young Artists & Writers, a nonprofit group whose mission is to open up opportunities for teens to show or publish their work, and gain recognition and scholarships. The Regional Art and Writing

Gold Key Exhibition, presented by the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts University and The Boston Globe, opens March 14 to the public. It remains open in Breed Memorial Hall at Tufts until March 22, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. If Koval’s work wins at this juried exhibition, it will go on to the nationals. He said he is thrilled that his work about the refugee crisis has made it this far.

Tales by the river Shepherded by his independent study advisor, Monument art teacher Neel Webber, Koval’s work has also taken him out of the classroom and into the Berkshire community with his Canon 5D Classic digital camera. Last spring he started talking to people who live along the Housatonic River, with all its complexity, since polychlorinated biphenyls pollution from the former General Electric Co.’s Pittsfield plant has sullied it. “Some people hunt on the river, some people read the Bible by the river, and some have been affected by the PCBs and have gotten sick,”


Laszlo Koval, 17, a junior at Monument Mountain Regional High School in Great Barrington, Mass., recently won two gold and two silver medals from the 2020 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards regional program. He will find out in March whether his photographs will qualify for the program’s national level.


Curious about the stories of people in his community, Laszlo Koval, 17, of Housatonic set out to photograph people along the Housatonic River. “Some people hunt on the river, some people read the Bible by the river, and some have been affected by the PCBs and have gotten sick,” he said.

In Sheffield, Koval heard drumming and chanting. There he met a woman taking part in an event called Heartflow, a gathering of people honoring the river. One hunter in Sheffield said he wasn’t concerned that the waterfowl he hunts and eats might be contaminated from PCB pollution in the river. “Because they’re migratory,” Koval said. “He’s been eating them all his life.”

ress makes Webber love his work even more. “This is the kind of teaching I like to do,” he said. “He brought so much to the table, I thought, ‘How can I help him’ is the question. He’s using school as a resource while tapping into the community. That’s a fabulous way to teach.” Koval said he wants to learn to be a better writer as he moves forward, likely to Europe for college or travel. “I want to do a lot of stories along

the way,” he said. “My objective as a photographer is to tell stories that connect the viewer with the subject. I want to enlighten the viewers with an idea they had never thought of before — or provide clarity to one they struggled to understand.” Heather Bellow can be reached at or on Twitter @BE_hbellow and 413-329-6871. | | |

Clockwise from top left: In Dalton, Koval found a woman from Ghana sitting near the river reading the Bible.

In Dalton, Koval found a woman from Ghana sitting near the river reading the Bible. Back in Sheffield, he heard drumming and chanting. It was an event called Heartflow, meant to honor the river. Webber said walking with his camera is exactly what Koval should be doing. Classroom work in history and social studies, which Koval loves, are merely supporting this path. And watching Koval’s prog-

Making The Grade | Thursday, February 27, 2020

Koval said. He knocked on lots of doors. He went to meetings about the river cleanup. And he stumbled across river visitors on early morning walks with his camera. One hunter in Sheffield said he wasn’t concerned that the waterfowl he hunts and eats might be contaminated. “Because they’re migratory,” Koval said. “He’s been eating them all his life.”


Thursday, February 27, 2020 | Making The Grade | | | 28

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Six takes: Making the Grade asked local high school graduates to weigh in about what experiences mattered most to them in high school, what helped them prepare for the future, and what didn’t work so well.

Champagne Eurquhart Age: 25 Current town: Pittsfield Current employer: Richmond Consolidated School High school and graduation year: Pittsfield High School, 2013 College and graduation year: Berkshire Community College, 2019; also serves with the U.S. Army National Guard What did you learn in high school that helped you feel prepared for the future? I loved being in my Health Tech academy. I thought for sure I was going to be an R.N. (registered nurse). The Health Tech teachers were great. We had a small class and had job shadowing days so we could learn about working in the medical field. Health Tech was like a little family. There were 10 of us and we would rely on each other and tell each other everything. I feel like I had the perfect support system between my Health Tech family, the [Gladys Allen] Brigham Center, my cheerleading team, my mom and my grandmother.


Age: 22 Current town: Vernon, Vt. Current employer: Substitute teacher for Windham Southeast School District and coach for the seventh-grade girls’ basketball team at Brattleboro Area Middle School High school and graduation year: Brattleboro Union High School, 2015 College and graduation year: Castleton University, December 2019, after student teaching in the fall of 2019. I did my health and physical education student teaching at Flood Brook School in Londonderry, Vt. | | |

Champagne Eurquhart

What did you learn in high school that helped you feel prepared for the future?


Abbie Lesure

They really showed me what women can do.

What’s one thing you wish you had learned, or learned more about, in high school that would have helped you today? When I went to BCC, I’m not going to lie, it was a struggle. I didn’t really like going to class. I don’t like change. I knew going to college was going to be more relaxed, not like a regular school day. But there was so much time in between going to class you only felt like going when you wanted to. I was so used to always having someone say you need to do this or that. Then, I got all that and more in basic training. Also, I had no clue how to fill out a checkbook or do other things budgeting-wise. Academics helped for academics, but I feel like I was lacking those basic skills. I learned those through the Brigham Center and by staying involved in the community.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give current students to prepare them for the future? I think all students should be taught how to study. I had to study and learn a lot in basic training, so I learned about how to stay focused in study

Making The Grade | Thursday, February 27, 2020



groups. Even when we would sweep the hallways, someone would be calling out vocabulary words we had to learn. I was able to confidently make it through and now I have lots of certifications and credentials to back me up. — Interviewed by Jenn Smith, The Berkshire Eagle

Abbie Lesure

Thursday, February 27, 2020 | Making The Grade | | |

Casey Manning I felt slightly prepared for the future. I took a few dual enrollment courses through the Windham Regional Career Center with Ms. Maribeth Cornell and Ms. Barb Vinci that were beneficial. I also took other dual enrollment courses that I was able to carry over as my general education classes at the university.

What’s one thing you wish you had learned, or learned more about, in high school that would have helped you today? I wish I took more courses on writing due to the amount of writing I did throughout college. I wish BUHS had introduced us to APA formatting rather than MLA.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give current students to prepare them for the future? Don’t give up and always work your hardest, no matter what that may be in. Things might feel tough at times, but there is always an end to the madness, and you WILL get through it. — Interviewed by Nancy A. Olson, Brattleboro Reformer correspondent

Casey Manning

Age: 23 Current town: Brattleboro, Vt., but soon moving to Atlanta, Ga. Current employer: Atlanta United FC, a major league professional men’s soccer team Current title: Ticket operations High school and graduation year: Brattleboro Union High School, 2015 College and graduation year: University of the Pacific, Stockton, Calif., 2019, sport management 30 major


Adam Sauvé

What did you learn in high school that helped you feel prepared for the future? Courses in the Windham Regional Career Center with Ms. Maribeth Cornell and Ms. Barb Vinci (accounting, personal finance, sports marketing, among others) were so realistic. We started every day as if we were walking into our work place. The teacher would send out an email (at the bell), and we had to answer it, just the way you start your workday by responding to your emails. For most of my WRCC classes, I earned dual enrollment credit. I had over 15 college credits going into college. FBLA (Future Business Leaders of America) was also super important. I competed at the state and national levels for two years. It totally helped me. We had to develop a perfect résumé. I’m very proud of mine. I was the go-to person in college for résumés. I was a student Rotarian, and I enjoyed meeting business owners, learning about what they were doing, and networking with them. I felt more a part of the community.

What’s one thing you wish you had learned, or learned more about, in high school that would have helped you today? When I got to college, I wasn’t really good as a writer, not at the college level. Why had no one told me before? I didn’t do well on the placement test, and that was embarrassing.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give current students to prepare them for the future? Get involved as much as you can. Use every option—sports, clubs, athletic leadership, student council, career center courses. — Interviewed by Nancy A. Olson, Brattleboro Reformer correspondent


Adam Sauvé Age: 36 Current town: Westminster, Vt. Current employer: Self-employed professional artist High school and graduation year: Brattleboro Union High School, 2005 What did you learn in high school that helped you feel prepared for the future? Nothing.

What’s one thing you wish you had learned, or learned more about, in high school that would have helped you today? Interpersonal human relations. Nonviolent human behavior. Healthy ways to communicate with one’s peers. Education more directed toward the individual and what they need, what fills their heart with joy. Education should be more focused around what interests a person, more focused on a child’s feelings. Teach children how to love themselves and appreciate who they are to the core.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give current students to prepare them for the future? Trust your gut. Put yourself in a place to be successful. Be the company that you would want to keep. Focus on loving yourself. — Interviewed by Nancy A. Olson, Brattleboro Reformer correspondent

Making The Grade | Thursday, February 27, 2020

Jonah Sykes


Jonah Sykes

What did you learn in high school that helped you feel prepared for the future? My AP English classes and teacher Kellie [O’Hagerty-] Duffy really changed my direction in life. About a year or two before that I was into theater and I thought I was going into theater and that was going to be cool. … My senior year, Kellie’s class just really got me into English, really made me want to start writing. ... I knew what I wanted to do when I went to MCLA. That class was amazing. … She really encouraged us.

What’s one thing you wish you had learned, or learned more about, in high school that would have helped you today? I do think between the ages of 16 and 18 they don’t prepare you for any part of the real world, like, the real world. That comes down to changing a tire, what is health insurance, what is civics, what does it mean to vote, why does voting matter. You get some of this stuff from history class, but [schools are] not teaching the impact of your vote in history. They’re not teaching you — like

my student loan debt for instance — not that this may have changed anything, but just a forewarning that when you start your college career you’re going to be signing a promissory note. So what is a promissory note? … I don’t think anyone’s prepared for that and I think that there needs to be some more basic fundamental financial classes. … I was a smart kid with a really good GPA, but I didn’t know basic life stuff and I’m sure I’m not alone in that.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give current students to prepare them for the future? I do think being very, very mindful of ensuring that the things you’re thinking about long term, like what your goals are — if you want to buy a house, if you want to own a car, even if you want to have a credit card — thinking about what the end goal is there is important. Think, “what will that look like?” Imagine yourself in that space: How did you get there? … If you don’t know the answers, you need to find them out. Go talk to your favorite teacher or a librarian or a guidance counselor. — Interviewed by Jenn Smith, The Berkshire Eagle

Emmalee Waite Age: 20 Current town: Brattleboro, Vt. Current employer: Melanie Zinn at Horizon Early Learning Program Title: Co-lead teacher in a classroom for children ages 18 months to 3 years old High school and graduation year: Brattleboro Union High School, 2017 College and graduation year: Community


College of Vermont, 2019. I already had dual enrollment course credits from high school. I graduated in two years with my associate’s degree. Currently, I’m taking online classes at Northern Vermont University for a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education. What did you learn in high school that helped you feel prepared for the future? I always knew teaching was what I wanted to do. I took the early childhood education courses at the Windham Regional Career Center; Ms. Linda Quay was the teacher. Volunteering and doing Career Center cooperative learning internships at what is now my place of employment really prepared me. I feel very fortunate at such a young age to be doing what I’ve been dreaming about.

What’s one thing you wish you had learned, or learned more about, in high school that would have helped you today? I wish there were more real-world connections with finances. I didn’t know what taxes were. I didn’t know how to balance a checkbook or how to manage money. I felt unprepared about how to find a healthy balance between home, work, and school. I had to teach myself. When I moved on to college, I felt pushed out into the cold without my winter jacket on. It was really eye-opening.

What’s one piece of advice you’d give current students to prepare them for the future? Learn job skills. Show up every day. Come into work with an open mind, ready to go and prepared. For sure, believe in yourself—you can do this. There are always great things around the corner. — Interviewed by Nancy A. Olson, Brattleboro Reformer correspondent | | |

Age: 33 Current town: Pittsfield, Mass. Current employer: Berkshire Community College Title: Associate director of marketing High school and graduation year: Taconic High School, 2004 College and graduation year: Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, bachelor of arts in English/communication, 2008; The College of St. Rose, master of arts in public relations, advertising and applied communication, 2010

Emmalee Waite


| | | The Berkshire Eagle |


Thursday, February 27, 2020 | Making The Grade



Instilling a commitment to academic, artistic, and athletic excellence… for life.

NEIGHBORLY SCHOLARS Our students are partnering with scholars at Berkshire Arts and Technology (BART) Charter Public School in Adams, Mass., to become “super users” of the new Ultramicrotome, an instrument that employs literal cutting-edge technology: it cuts slices 2,000 times thinner than a sheet of paper, revealing the complex detail of tissues, plant matter, or other samples. This outreach program is designed to provide BART science students an opportunity to learn new skills in Berkshire’s Advanced Math/Science Research lab.

ACCOMPLISHED ARTISTS Berkshire students received a school-record 28 Scholastic Art Awards (sponsored by The Boston Globe and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts), for excellence in studio art, ceramics, photography, drawing, painting, and digital art this year. There were 4 Gold Key winners, including this painting, “Dichotomy,” by Michelle Wang ’20. More student artwork is currently on exhibit in the Berkshire County High School Art Show at the Norman Rockwell Museum (through Mar. 7).

ATHLETES & ROLE MODELS At Berkshire’s inaugural “Skate For Her” game, young fans and skaters from local youth hockey programs had the opportunity to meet and skate with members of this year’s girls varsity hockey team. Planned as part of a yearlong celebration of the School’s 50th anniversary of coeducation, all event proceeds supported the Women’s Sports Foundation, a nonprofit that advocates for equality in female athletics, and brought young skaters from the community together with female athletes excelling at the next level.

Berkshire School is a co-ed, college preparatory boarding and day school for grades 9-12 and post-graduates. There are 141 classes with an average size of 12 and a student-to-faculty ratio of 4:1. Students are encouraged to learn, in the words of the School motto, “not just for school but for life.”

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Making The Grade | Thursday, February 27, 2020 | | |


Thursday, February 27, 2020 | Making The Grade | | | 34

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What if courage and creativity mattered as much as calculus in high school? A new initiative is helping to reshape the high school experience

Making The Grade | Thursday, February 27, 2020

Painting a new ‘portrait of a graduate’

By Jenn Smith The Berkshire Eagle


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In Bob Barsanti’s AP English Language classroom at Pittsfield (Mass.) High School, students are arranged around a “Harkness table,” a table in the center of the room around which students are seated, encouraging self-regulated and guided discussion among students and minimal teacher involvement.

What should students know and be able to do by graduation? Should they know trigonometry or be able to socially and emotionally function? Or both?


Thursday, February 27, 2020 | Making The Grade | | | 36

Pittsfield High School alumna Champagne Eurquhart makes the case that in the real world, the grades you received in the past matter less than the experience and relevant knowledge you bring to today’s workplace and society. Eurquhart, 25, is known for being a friendly, funny, helpful member of her Pittsfield, Mass., community and staff member at Richmond Consolidated School. The PHS Class of 2013 graduate was a good student, a cheerleader and a Gladys Allen Brigham Community Center volunteer throughout her high school years. “People today don’t see me and say, ‘You went to PHS and got an A in math.” They say, “You were the cheerleader who helped coach. My daughter still talks about you,” Eurquhart said. In reality, she said, she was “awful at math.” But, she said, her extracurricular experiences were more valuable to her than grades and a testament to who she was as a young person. “I wish the school could have seen more of what I was doing outside of school,” she said. After she graduated, she began putting together her own portfolio

of her best work, from certificates she earned through her high school health technology program and training with the U.S. Army National Guard, along with notes about her dreams and goals. She calls it her “I Love Me” book, and it gives her not only confidence but evidence of what she’s capable of. School leaders across the country are also realizing how shaping a student’s core values — like the confidence and resilience Eurquhart has developed over the years — matter just as much as academic success. So now schools are formally rethinking and redesigning what exactly goes into the high school experience. An initiative known as “Portrait of a Graduate” is just coming into focus in Berkshire County and has been advancing over the past several years in other parts of Massachusetts, as well as Vermont and other parts of the country. The catchphrase “Portrait of a Graduate” is not a physical image meant to be immortalized in a yearbook, but rather a pedagogical approach schools are taking to create a “snapshot” of the ideal skills — including academic and social-emotional attributes — that every high

school should have before they leave the building for good. It’s also an acknowledgement among school leaders, employers and other stakeholders that, as skills gaps persist among job seekers, something must be done with the often antiquated high school system of teaching and learning.

Investing in a better future The private, philanthropic Bostonbased Barr Foundation, which has some $1.8 billion in assets, has been investing significantly in this work. In December 2019, the foundation awarded a total of $2,816,000 in “Portrait of a Graduate” grants to 14 New England school districts and organizations. Seven of these award winners are in Massachusetts, including the Berkshire County Education Task Force and Berkshires Tomorrow Inc., an arm of the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission. The other recipients are located in Maine, New Hampshire and Connecticut. “We sought this $250,000 grant on behalf of five county high schools to help them, and the county as a whole, move toward offering the

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highest quality and most soundly focused education possible,” task force chairman William Cameron said in a statement. “That effort begins with developing a clear understanding of what the community views as essential in preparing its high school graduates for the future that lies before them.” The participating Berkshire schools include: Berkshire Arts and Technology Charter Public School, Drury High School, Lee Middle and High School, Pittsfield High School and Taconic High School. Berkshire Hills Regional School District in Great Barrington, Mass., previously received a different Barr Foundation grant to do similar work across its elementary, middle and high schools. Profile or portrait of a graduatetype work is not exclusive to Barr Foundation grant recipients. In Vermont, while the Winooski School District has been working on a model in partnership with the foundation, its Southern Vermont peer, Windsor Central Supervisory Union, went through a similar process on its own last year. Either way, the mission and purpose of going through this process remains the same.

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Making The Grade | Thursday, February 27, 2020

In a blog post, Ali Gross, the foundation’s education program officer, wrote, “For schools to successfully educate all students for the realities of our rapidly changing world, communities must construct a new understanding of what school could look like. That’s where a Portrait of a Graduate can help. A Portrait of a Graduate articulates the vision of what all high school students will know and be able to do in order to succeed in college, career, and the community.” Between now and the end of the calendar year, the 14 New England grant recipients are tasked with convening community members for input, including students, families, school staff, as well as partners in higher education, local employers, and other interested individuals and groups. In Berkshire Hills, these meetings have already begun. Monument Valley Regional Middle School Prin-


VISITING DAY is Thursday, March 26th Come on Visiting Day and join classes, meet teachers, share a meal with students, and be a part of a typical day in our lively learning environment. Call to reserve your spot or schedule another day to visit us.

Come See What School Can Be | | |

Bob Barsanti, a teacher at Pittsfield High School, supervises a discussion between students in his AP English Language class.


Thursday, February 27, 2020 | Making The Grade


Kellie O’Hagerty dissects a passage from a book the class is reading in her Search of Values English class for students in grades 11 and 12 at Pittsfield High School. cipal Ben Doren has led students, families and School Committee members through an exercise that essentially asks people to pare down five key skill sets or attributes from a list of 30 in a five-minute exercise. The attributes range from being environmentally responsible and having technology literacy to having creativity and integrity. While participants all agree that these are all healthy and helpful skills and values for students to graduate with, Berkshire Hills School Committee member Anne Hutchinson, during a January meeting, raised a question to the endgame: “How do you teach integrity?” | | |

Reimagining high school


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cal thinking skills are being put to the test in real time through things like group work, community service and independent study. Instead of sitting in rows silently absorbing or ignoring information, students are encouraged to talk with each other while working in groups. Sometimes, they’re finding themselves at the head of the class explaining a subject to their classmates. At Drury High School in North Adams, Mass., Principal Tim Callahan said the school has found success in challenging students with higher-level courses, so that they’ll be better prepared for the rigors of college and the workplace. “We removed the lowest-level course, added more advanced and honors courses, and AP classes, which has really taken hold and transformed the school,” Callahan said. This year, the school also is using a new block schedule to allow for more in-depth learning. “They only have four classes a day now, so they can go deeper

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which can then be adapted to fit other schools’ graduation plans. The Barr Foundation’s allocation to the Berkshires helps pay for things like training and travel to other schools where a Portrait of a Graduate model already has been put into place. Shrewsbury Public Schools is in its third year of the Portrait of a Graduate process. The district of about 6,268 students has selected six core areas of aspiration for its graduates: critical thinking and content mastery; leadership; global citizenship and engagement; innovation; resilience and focus; collaboration and communication. Shrewsbury Superintendent Joe Sawyer said that schools and districts at the beginning of the visioning process should remember that it takes time and so will the changes. “It is always challenging to distill the depth and breadth of what a student’s education involves into a summary that captures the essence of what we want for our students,” he said. The district sought input from an interactive survey, by tapping into existing groups such as school councils and assembling a Portrait of a Graduate committee of educators

and parents representing a wide variety of work backgrounds. “It is critical to ensure that the voices of students, parents, community members and educators are all included in the process,” Sawyer said. In the district’s video about engaging multiple perspectives, Sherwood Middle School teacher Hannah Hopkins said, “I felt like I was valued, that my opinions were valued. It made me feel that this Profile of a Graduate really was a community effort. It wasn’t just from the topdown, you know, here’s something you have to do.” How will this all ultimately work, and will it yield the hoped for outcomes of success for future high school graduates? Schools and their leaders don’t have all the answers yet, but one thing’s for sure, as Monument Valley Principal Ben Doren pointed out, “We are responsible for making sure kids leave school as competent citizens.” Jenn Smith can be reached at jsmith@, at @JennSmith_ Ink on Twitter and 413-496-6239.

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for Lee Public Schools, one of the Berkshire grant recipients. Each participating school will have designated team leaders for Portrait of a Graduate work within the school, he said. Those team members also will meet with their fellow grant recipients on a regular basis to share ideas and findings. “We in schools tend to have rather limited views of the world: We care for the children who arrive daily at our schools for education and for care and for nurturing, and that daily care takes continuous commitment,” BART Executive Director James “Jay” White II said in an email. “That makes it challenging sometimes to look beyond one's school's students. The Barr Foundation work on ‘Portrait of a Graduate’ will permit and compel us to look beyond our individual schools and within all of Berkshire County.” “It’s really a visioning process,” Eberwein said. “We want it to be a really rich community engagement process.” Eberwein said he envisions that, after a spring’s worth of work, stakeholders can come together over the summer during a retreat to share their findings and develop a framework for the entire county,

Making The Grade | Thursday, February 27, 2020

into a subject. It’s changed the way instruction has focused on the student,” he said. Now, teachers at Drury are revisiting curriculum standards to figure out not only how to get students to a certain level of mastery, but as Callahan said, how to interpret them into lessons that “channel the level of creativity in students that’s expected.” As teachers and administrators continue to strategize how to best equip students for the rest of the 21st century, there’s assurance among Portrait of a Graduate participants that they don’t have to go down this path alone. “Together, we get to take a 10,000foot county view of what’s happening in our schools. It’s a unique project I see as having a lot of value for our region,” said Brendan Sheran, Pittsfield High School’s vice principal of teaching and learning. “This grant offers us a really exciting opportunity to build relationships across districts,” Berkshire County Education Task Force special projects manager Howard “Jake” Eberwein III told his task force colleagues during the group’s January meeting. He recently served as interim superintendent


Thursday, February 27, 2020 | Making The Grade | | | 40

‘Kaleidoscope Collective for Learning’ aims to track creative approaches to learning in Mass. By Jenn Smith The Berkshire Eagle GREAT BARRINGTON, MASS. — Monument Valley Regional Middle School is on track to join a new statewide learning collaborative designed to help educators share lessons and find better ways to help their students succeed in all areas of life. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education named Monument Valley among the 22 schools and districts selected as finalists for the Kaleidoscope Collective for Learning pilot program, aimed at involving more students and teachers in “deeper learning.� Monument Valley will represent the Berkshire Hills Regional School District and Berkshire County as the only school from this region in this cohort. “We were thrilled that hundreds of schools and districts expressed interest, many of which completed

applications for the Kaleidoscope Collective for Learning,� state education Commissioner Jeffrey C. Riley said in the December 2019 announcement of finalists. “This reflects schools’ and districts’ enthusiasm for deeper learning — learning that is interactive, relevant, collaborative, and coherently aligned to Massachusetts standards.� The finalists were selected because they “have already begun innovative work� involving deeper learning and submitted creative proposals for how to enhance that work. To become a part of the collective, finalists were required to attend a training and meeting, held in Marlborough on Dec. 10. They also have to convene community members to contribute ideas to the school’s or district’s plan, and host a school visit with state officials in January. After attending the initial convening with colleagues, Monument Val-

ley Principal Ben Doren said he was “super impressed with it� and with meeting Riley, Senior Associate Commissioner Komal Bhasin, who is leading the Kaleidoscope Collaborative, along with Associate Commissioner Tera Carr. The workshop included the commissioner leading an activity as an engaging example of how collaboration and critical thinking can take place in the classroom: he got grown-up participants to work under tables as if they were painting a mural on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. “I wasn't sure how serious Massachusetts was about deeper and proficiency-based learning, but now I understand how serious the state is about making this shift,� Doren said. He said his school already has a number of partnerships to help students take the material they are learning and apply their skills through various projects and programs. Last October, Monument Valley students participated in a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) Week program presented by the i2 Learning organization, during which fifth graders had to figure out the decline of some local animal populations around the fictional Loon Lake; sixth graders had to design colonies for life on the moon; seventh graders had to build kinetic sculptures; and eighth graders studied surgical techniques, and conducted simulated biopsies and suturing.

Deeper learning for equity's sake

Doren said partnerships like this, and with the Kaleidoscope Collective, help ensure that students of all abilities have access to interactive deeper learning opportunities. The school's data shows that students who match criteria for being high-needs, including kids who face socioeconomic disadvantages, weren't performing as well in school as their other peers. It's an issue that Doren says is endemic across the state and the country. “Since the mid-2000s, we've known that but we haven't shown much progress. The equity issue hasn't been solved. At the same time, there have been lots of changes in workplaces, in the economy and in the demands of the 21st century,� he said. Doren said deeper learning models have the potential to create

greater impact in classrooms. “For example, by designing a lunar colony we can see whether a student is able to synthesize information, to empathize while working with others, and using standards they've learned as a base for the lesson. These are things, these are skills we want graduates to have,� he said. Berkshire Hills Regional School District Committee Chairman Stephen Bannon said he is happy to see that the district has been tapped for potential participation in the Kaleidoscope Collective. “I think our community and our families know we've always done a good job educating their children and any changes we make will be for the better,� Bannon said. “Times have changed a lot during the last 20 to 30 years. Schools have to change, too.� Monument Valley gathered some feedback in January during parentteacher conferences, and education department officials met with the school’s fifth-grade team and other school leaders and students. Doren said he looks forward to learning more about the collective’s next steps this spring. Senior Associate Commissioner Komal Bhasin, a former public school principal in Lawrence, said that, to her, deeper learning has three key components: collaboration, creativity and critical thinking skills being taught in an authentic way. “The point of our school visits is to understand and get feedback on what schools need, and to help make plans that are really customized to the needs of their school,� she said. Bhasin said that after successful school visits, selected participants will continue to be an active part of the Kaleidoscope Collective through June 2021, with educators and administrators meeting every two months or so for professional development and feedback opportunities for their school's or district's deeperlearning plan. At the state level, Bhasin said education officials are looking to create a database of proposals and lesson plans, and hold discussions on how to evaluate deeper learning. The state also is looking for programming and funding partnerships for the collective's work. If all goes well, the education department expects to request proposals and name a second cohort for fall 2021.

By Jenn Smith The Berkshire Eagle


Sakine Gumus-Yildiz, a lead teacher at the Berkshire County Head Start site at Conte Community School in Pittsfield, Mass., goes over a counting method with 5-year-old Nolan Fountain. son throughout the space. The quad is a tireless bustle of activities. On one side, Ivonne Melendez is coaching children on how to brush their teeth and wash their hands in front of mirror set up by the classroom sink. In another area, teaching assistant Yezenia Rodriguez is listening to 5-year-olds Giovannai Columna and Abigail Peprah describe the colorful scenes and structures they’re creating together with Lego blocks. “This is an oven so you can cook in the classroom,” Peprah says aloud. When a reporter asked Columna what he was making, the boy smiled but shyly tucked his chin into his

left shoulder. “He speaks Spanish,” Rodriguez explained. “I speak Spanish, too,” she said. “So he’s learning English and I’m learning English.” Like many of the Berkshire County Head Start staff members, Rodriguez has been with the program for a while, 11 years to be exact. She started working as a bus monitor, then worked her way up to take on a role in the classroom. Sakine Gumus-Yildiz has also transitioned into a new role through Head Start. Prior to moving to the Berkshires, she lived in Turkey where she taught literature to high

school students. “I never thought of becoming an early childhood teacher,” she said. “After working with preschoolers, I have learned that it is more fun and more valuable in shaping the lives of children.” She’s now one of the lead teachers at the Conte site where children are constantly calling her name or tugging at her sleeves to ask her questions or gift their drawings to her. “I love to work here. It’s my second home,” Gumus-Yildiz said. Jenn Smith can be reached at jsmith@, at @JennSmith_ Ink on Twitter and 413-496-6239. | | |

PITTSFIELD, MASS. — As some schools work to close the diversity gaps between teachers and students, Berkshire County Head Start is leading the way. The preschool age program serves approximately 300 children across six sites, from North Adams to Great Barrington. Their young students come from all kinds of backgrounds, and Executive Director Brett Westbrook said she’s proud of the fact that Head Start’s 82 staff members reflect a similar diversity as its students and families. “We have diversity with culture, age, gender, lifestyle. Diversity doesn’t always have to mean black and white,” she said. “The fact that we have a lot of kinds of diversity among the staff really means a lot. It’s good for our kids to look up and see someone who looks like them.” Westbrook said the Head Start program also benefits from the broad experiences and knowledge its educators bring to the classrooms. To acknowledge and celebrate the uniqueness of each staff member, Westbrook regularly posts staff spotlights on the Head Start Facebook page. “To show that our staff comes from various lived experiences and walks of life is important, especially for parents who are looking for that connection to a teacher so that they can feel like they’re able to talk to them about their own goals and the goals that they have for their children,” Berkshire County Head Start Compliance Manager Penny Evans-McAllister said. Walk into the pre-kindergarten quad at Conte Community School, where one of the Head Start sites is based, and you can’t discern the children of doctors from the children of cashiers. But you can see children having “aha” moments with their teachers. You can feel the energy and passion of them wanting to learn new numbers and letters and to make new best friends. And while you can hear different accents when different people are speaking, their laughter reverberates in uni-

Making The Grade | Thursday, February 27, 2020

At Berkshire County Head Start, diversity is not a goal, it’s a state of being


42 | | |

Thursday, February 27, 2020 | Making The Grade

Further Reading

Courtesy of the Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation

Making The Grade | Thursday, February 27, 2020 | | |


Thursday, February 27, 2020 | Making The Grade | | | 44

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Making The Grade | Thursday, February 27, 2020

Berkshire Country Day School

NEW! FAIR SHARE TUITION PROGRAM Affordable independent education for all

Under New Leadership, Berkshire Country Day School Prioritizes Access & Affordability: Fair Share Tuition Plan STOCKBRIDGE/LENOX, MA--At a recent meeting of the Board of Trustees of Berkshire Country Day School (BCD), Board members voted unanimously to adopt a new tuition schedule intended to make the School’s programs affordable and accessible to families at all levels of income. “In implementing this program,” stated new Head of School Jenifer Fox, “BCD is joining the many organizations in the Berkshires who see their mission as strengthening the greater area with a focus on social justice through education.” To that end, the School, which serves children from age 2 through Grade 8, has adopted a new tuition schedule (The Fair Share Program), enabling families to apply quickly and easily for tuition pegged to their specific resources. “We want parents in the region to know that BCD is affordable and accessible to all families seeking a personalized, independent education that builds on students’ individual strengths and prepares them for future success,” said Fox.

Is paying for elementary school worth it? Fox explained that young people experience rapid brain development and elasticity during their first five years of life. The benefits of high-quality early childhood education go far beyond academic gains. In addition to being better prepared for high school, children in personalized, enriching pre-K–8 programs that emphasize social-emotional learning also enjoy long-term benefits into adulthood both personally and professionally. Stated Fox, “The move toward the Fair Share Program does not mean that it costs any less to educate a student today. Like all independent schools,

we experience a gap between tuition and the real costs of a full education that includes sports for all, extensive arts programming, and creative experiences including travel programs designed to complement the curriculum and build students’ independence. We depend on the generosity of our supporters –mostly alumni and past parents, who have experienced first-hand the life-changing effects of a BCD education. Almost everywhere you go in the Berkshires or Columbia County, you will run into a successful graduate of BCD. They tend to be engaged in work that somehow strengthens this community. We wanted to make a bold move to ensure that all families, no matter what their resources, can afford our educational experience.”

What is the FAIR SHARE tuition program? “Middle income families—people making a good living—are often underserved by independent schools,” says Fox. “Our economy tends to underestimate the various strains on this level of earner, and we want people to know that we are here and will work with you.” The Fair Share tuition program is just one of the initiatives Fox, an author and educator with over thirty years of experience leading independent school, has introduced at Berkshire Country Day. “The Fair Share Tuition Program ensures that more people can experience what a small, highly individualized education within an intentional community offers.” Fox said. “We see it as our civic duty to ensure access to any family that believes in our mission.” | | |

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Thursday, February 27, 2020 | Making The Grade

At Berkshire Montessori... we follow the child... Each individual enters our school with different knowledge and levels of readiness. Sure, there are basic skills that we all need to learn, but we don’t all learn them at the same time or in the same way. When children are allowed to learn at their own pace and take time to deeply explore their interests, they understand more and enjoy school more. | | |

the environment is key...


We believe a well-prepared classroom environment is a great teacher. Our classroom environments are neat, spacious, full of natural light, and pleasing to the eye. Our teachers take great care to create a setting in which the children are free to learn, to explore, and to develop independence and positive work habits.

traditional academics are only one component of our education... Adults are often amazed at the level of academics students learn at a young age in Montessori classrooms, but it’s important to note that learning doesn’t stop there. We believe in educating the whole child, which means appealing to and supporting their growth socially, emotionally, and physically.

Making The Grade | Thursday, February 27, 2020

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ApplyNow for Fall 2020 — Schedulean individualvisitanytime! Learn more: | 84 Alford Road | Great Barrington, MA 01230 | | |

At Simon’s Rock, young scholars take on academic challenges in a community that shares a love of learning.


Thursday, February 27, 2020 | Making The Grade | | | 48

125 YEARS 19,000 ALUMNI A LEGACY OF FIRSTS Since 1894, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts has been elevating lives and educating students with a holistic goal: That they thrive as whole people, personally, academically, and professionally. In 125 years, we’ve grown from a Normal School with 53 graduates to a top public college with 19,000 alumni. Here for all and committed to each, we’re proud of our legacy and our history of empowering students to make their own impressions on the world. Though MCLA has been recognized for its leadership in diversity, gender equality, and good citizenship, we’re mindful about how much more work there is to do in the next 125 years to keep MCLA inclusive, accessible, and growing. Thank you for being a part of our journey, in the past and for the future.