MCLA honors Three Berkshire County Educators

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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts has announced the recipients of the fourth annual Berkshire County Educator Recognition Award.

The award, given by MCLA in collaboration with Berkshire County K-12 superintendents, was created to honor the region’s exceptional teachers.

This year’s recipients will be recognized on Thursday, May 1, at 5:30 p.m. in the MCLA Church Street Center Social Hall on the MCLA campus. The event is free and open to the public.

The recipients are Jo-Ellen Height (elementary education), Patricia Robie (early childhood education), and Brad Whateley (middle/high school education).

“All educators touch the future by working with the leaders, thinkers, citizens, entrepreneurs and activists of tomorrow. We are pleased to honor the work of these gifted and dedicated teachers with this year’s Educator Recognition Awards,” said Cynthia Brown, MCLA’s vice president of academic affairs.

Height, who has more than 45 years of experience as a teacher and speech and language therapist, is an integrated special needs pre-kindergarten teacher at Undermountain Elementary School in the Southern Berkshire Regional School District, where she has taught for the past 38 years.

Height said that she still looks forward to work every morning, looking for the successes and solving the challenges each day brings. Colleagues praise her devotion to students, advocacy for those with special needs, and her ability to work with others, Brown said.

In addition, she has provided leadership the Southern Berkshire Regional School District receiving National Association for Educators of Young Children accreditation, and contributes to numerous committee, searches and curriculum teams.

Height holds her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in communications disorders from UMASS-Amherst.

Robie teaches fourth grade at Becket-Washington School in the Central Berkshire Regional School District. A teacher for 15 years who has taught in grades 3, 4, and 5, as well as study skills grades K-5, Robie is not only an effective teacher, she has contributed to curriculum alignment, promotes family and community involvement, and otherwise integrates her work with support of the wider community, according to Brown.

Her classes integrate service projects and participate in environmental stewardship work. Robie also provides mentoring to new teachers, and she serves on the Innovation School Planning Board for her school, as well as on the School Council and Parent-Teacher Organization.

Robie holds her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in elementary education from Westfield State University.

Whateley teaches physics and mathematics at Pittsfield High School. A career-changer who switched from being a physician to teaching high school physics 10 years ago, Whateley is a calm and inspiring teacher who truly engages students in what can be a challenging subject, Brown said.

Since teaching at Pittsfield High School, he has expanded Advanced Placement (AP) physics from one to three full sections, and has provided leadership in adding an early physics program and an engineering academy. He also serves as a mentor of new teachers, an advisor of the National Honor Society, and is an active member of the Pittsfield High School community.

Whateley holds his bachelor’s in electrical engineering from Cornell University and his M.D. degree from The George Washington University.

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