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The school held a roundtable discussion with U.S. Rep. Richard Neal.

Neal Promotes Need for Communication, Education

By Andy McKeever
iBerkshires Staff
02:02PM / Thursday, January 24, 2013
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Mayor Daniel Bianchi, U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-Springfield, and Principal Morgan Williams all raved about the enrichment programs.

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — U.S. Rep. Richard E. Neal thinks modern technology has hurt communications. And he is willing to put $168,000 of federal funds toward fixing that at Reid Middle School.

Neal visited the school on Thursday to announce a 21st Century Learning grant which will create an array of enrichment programs and increase tutoring for  students. The programming will focus on verbal communication, math science with hands-on projects.

"There is nothing wrong with completing a sentence," Neal told about a dozen students. "Part of the problem with modern communication is that we don't finish a thought."

While testing standards are a necessary part of the education system, educators need to find ways to create well-rounded citizens, he said, and after-school and summer programming will help "address some of the issues that changed the American family."

The grant, which will total $504,000 over the next three years, will pay staff to create additional programming and community partners — such as Berkshire Botanical Gardens, Berkshire Theater Group, IS183 Art School of the Berkshires, Pittsfield Community Television and Berkshire Health Systems — have jumped on board to support it.

Some groups will be running programs with the help of a teacher, who will fit the activities into the school district's curriculum. The programs will be hands-on to give students real-life experience — putting the classwork to practical use.

"[The programs] just enrich the lives of our students," said Mayor Daniel Bianchi. "It is so meaningful to a well-rounded education."

For sixth-grader Elton Wilkins, these additional programs will get him out of the house and doing hands-on projects with others.

U.S. Rep. Richard Neal thinks that modern technology has hurt communication.

"During the summer or after school, most kids like me would stay in the house playing video games," he told Neal.

Additionally, the school will be implementing programs to help students plan for college and a career, providing more academic support and tutoring and hiring a family coordinator.

Interim Superintendent Gordon Noseworthy said these types of programming are a "perfect fit" for Reid because the school's population varies. This will create options to help tailor the education to the students, he said.

"We want to give them a menu where they can grow into strong learners," Liz Baker, 21st Century director for the  district, said.

The additional programming is eyed to educate students with the tools they will need in an increasingly competitive job market, Neal said.

Tags: federal grants,   Neal,   Reid Middle School,   school program,   

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