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School Committee member Cynthia Taylor, on the left, nominated Yon, on the right, for the awards.

Pittsfield School Committee Chair Nominated For State Awards

By Andy McKeeveriBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The School Committee nominated its chairwoman for two statewide awards.
The Committee voted on Wednesday to nominate Katherine Yon for a Massachusetts Association of School Committees lifetime achievement award and as an all-state school committee member. She was nominated by both Superintendent Jason McCandless and School Committee member Cynthia Taylor, separately, when the statewide organization sent out requests for nominations. 
"Her belief in the power of great teacher and great schools to lift up and enhance the life of every child in neat ways is inspiring to us all. She continues to work as a teacher, as a tutor, and a mentor to this very day," McCandless read from a joint letter with Taylor.
The letter reads that "no one in the state deserves the recognition more than Katherine Yon." 
Throughout her career as an English teacher, Yon spent time as the pep club advisor and cheerleading advisor in the 1980s; she served as the class advisor for every high school grade level in the 1990s; she spent a few years as the editor and business manager for the year book in the 2000s. 
"In June of 2006 she retired and then again in 06, 07 she retired as a part-time teacher. She had to ease out, I guess. Since then, she's been on the School Committee since 2010. She's served on the audit subcommittee, the curriculum subcommittee, the personnel and negotiations subcommittee, the policy subcommittee. She has been on the School Building Needs Commission and she has been the School Committee chair since 2014," McCandless said.
The lifetime achievement award is an honor for individuals who have exhibited "the best characteristics of a public service" and the all-state school committee is to recognize "significant achievement on the part of local school committee members."
No Pittsfield members have been on the all-state school committee and only School Committee Daniel Elias has won the lifetime achievement award.
"I'm overwhelmed and very surprised," Yon, who was visibly moved by the surprise nomination.
"Education has been my life and I think all of you who know me know that. I built my teaching career and when I left, I couldn't leave education so I turned to this. This is fulfilling in ways I never thought possible." 
In other business, McCandless reported that the school has reached a new partnership with Kripalu. The yoga and health non-profit will train 30 of the upper school employees, teachers, and paraprofessionals, in mindfulness techniques. 
The RISE program techniques help manage street and enhance resilience, which in turn is said the improve employee performance, leadership, and well-being.
"Anchored in the science and practice of mindfulness and positive psychology, the program is specifically designed to support greater clarity and resilience, improved situational awareness, better decision making, work/life integration, and superior long-term performance for individuals and organizations," reads Kripalu's website about the program.
McCandless also reported that Student Services Facilitator Tammy Gage has been selected as the interim superintendent of career and college readiness. The job is that of Richard Brady, who is retiring. The appointment is one year but Gage will become the first woman in vocational leadership in Berkshire County, McCandless said.
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