Mount Everett Teacher Wins $10,000 Kapteyn Prize

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SHEFFIELD, Mass. — Kari Giordano of Lee has been awarded the seventh annual James C. Kapteyn Prize for her exceptional work as a teacher, coach and mentor at Mount Everett Regional School in Sheffield.

The prize, which comes with a $10,000 award, was established to recognize high school teachers of exemplary character and integrity who have made a career commitment to teaching and who lead by example.

A teacher of art, design and photography at Mount Everett for nine years, Giordano’s many accomplishments include creating a “Foundations of Design” curriculum described by colleagues as one of “the finest examples of a teacher-developed, student-centered project” they have ever seen, establishing an ongoing collaboration with Sheffield Senior Center and leading a 10th grade class in the publication of a children’s book, entitled Benny Everett’s First Day. Giordano has received grants for student enrichment projects from Berkshire Taconic’s Eagle Fund and the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

Outside the classroom, Giordano serves as varsity cheerleading coach and advisor of the yearbook and prom committees, plays in the orchestra alongside her students and has even participated in physical education fitness challenges. She heads Mount Everett’s arts and literature magazine, plans a visiting artist lecture series and organizes fundraisers to assist students with financial need so that they can attend school events and programs.

“Kari is persistent and resourceful,” wrote Stephanie Graham, instructor of fine arts at Mount Everett and Giordano’s sister, in a letter recommending Giordano for the award, administered by Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation. “She spends all her free time writing grants and articles, documenting events and communicating with our faculty and administration about anything she can do to benefit our school. She is a natural leader.”

Giordano earned her bachelor of fine arts degree in graphic design from the State University of New York at New Paltz, and her master’s degree in art and design education from the Rhode Island School of Design. She has continued her work outside of teaching as a freelance graphic designer and photographer, and has twice been published in School Arts, a national education magazine.

“On the best days, I leave work knowing that I was able to expose the students to content that they can utilize, or be a sounding board to someone who just really needs to be heard,” wrote Giordano in her application materials. “Spending my time making a difference in the lives of students is the smartest career choice I could have made.”

The Mount Everett community will celebrate Kari Giordano’s achievements on Sept. 20 at 1:30 p.m. with a presentation at the school that is open to the public.

The James C. Kapteyn Endowment Fund was established at Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation in 2009 to honor the memory of beloved teacher Jamie Kapteyn. Over two decades, Kapteyn taught English and coached soccer and lacrosse at Deerfield Academy, The Williston Northampton School and Cushing Academy. The primary mission of the fund, and the Kapteyn Prize, is to honor its namesake’s memory by recognizing and supporting educators who offer their extraordinary gifts to students.

Teachers may be nominated for the Kapteyn Prize by their heads of school. The next deadline for nominations is February 2, 2016. For more information, please contact To donate to the James C. Kapteyn Fund, visit

Tags: award,   Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation,   Mount Everett,   teacher,   

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