Buxton School Teacher Awarded 2017 Kapteyn Prize

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Linda Burlak, front and center, with her 2017 Buxton graduates.

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Linda Burlak, a science teacher and academic dean at Buxton School in Williamstown has been awarded the ninth annual James C. Kapteyn Prize for excellence in teaching,the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation has announced.

She will receive a $10,000 award for study or travel to enrich her teaching, and the school will receive a $2,000 grant in her name.

Currently in her 29th year at Buxton School, Burlak has taught biology and physics, algebra and geometry, and popular electives in marine science, astronomy and nature writing. She has served as a soccer coach, dormitory parent and college adviser; is a long-time member of the school's orchestra and chorus; and has traveled with her students to the Grand Canyon region to explore geology and to the Florida Keys to study ocean life.

"I teach because it gives me the chance to constantly learn — about myself, the larger world and the children I work with," Burlak wrote in a statement. "It provides the joy of sharing hairy Yeti crabs, quarks and gluons, walking motor proteins, the possibilities of life on Europa, and every other beautiful, weird, wonderful, logical, and illogical thing I can think of with my students."

Burlak earned a bachelor's degree in biology from Carleton College and an M.S. in biochemistry, molecular and cell biology from Cornell. She was in her second year of a Ph.D. program in molecular biology when she realized she would prefer life in a classroom to life in a lab, and that teaching high school science would help keep her focused on big picture science rather than forcing her to specialize in a sub-discipline.

Called a model teacher, generous mentor and invaluable asset to the Buxton community, Burlak has in turn helped nurture the science careers of many former students, several of whom now teach at the high school and college level.

"Linda is recognized by all of her students at Buxton as an excellent and extremely devoted teacher, and one who continually looks for ways to engage her students in how they can have a more direct hand in their own education," wrote Peter S. Smith, co-director of the school, in a letter nominating Burlak for the prize.

Burlak will be honored at an event to be held in October.

The James C. Kapteyn Endowment Fund was established at Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation in 2009 to honor the memory of beloved teacher Jamie Kapteyn, who over a 20-year career taught English and coached soccer and lacrosse at Deerfield Academy, the Williston Northampton School, and Cushing Academy. The fund's primary mission is to honor its namesake's memory by recognizing and rewarding extraordinary educators.

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Williamstown Planning Board Weighing New Pot Bylaw

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Planning Board last week heard from several residents who want it to prohibit outdoor production of marijuana in the language of an updated bylaw the board intends to send to May's annual town meeting.
Several of the people who argued against granting a special permit to grow pot on a Blair Road parcel early last year were back at Town Hall on Tuesday to ask that town regulations be changed to allow marijuana production only indoors and then under highly regulated conditions to control odor.
The Planning Board chose to address the bylaw passed by town meeting in 2017 because it was written before the commonwealth's Cannabis Control Commission had written statewide regulations in response to the November 2016 vote to decriminalize marijuana in Massachusetts.
The town in 2017 was trying to "get ahead of the curve," and now wants to amend its language to align with the nomenclature used at the state level. For example, the 2017 bylaw refers to "marijuana production facilities." The CCC language is written to address indoor and outdoor "marijuana cultivators."
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