Five New Trustees Elected to Berkshire Museum Board at Annual Meeting

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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Five new trustees are joining the Berkshire Museum's board of trustees, bringing to the board significant expertise in community development, diversity and inclusion, STEM education, entrepreneurship, leadership, marketing and communications, and art.

New members elected by the board to two-year terms and welcomed at its annual meeting on Monday, Sept. 24, include:

· Catharine B. Deely, a resident of Pittsfield, is a marketing and communications professional and a proponent of the creative economy and economic development.

· Rachel Melendez Mabee, a resident of Pittsfield, is a communications professional with over 13 years of experience developing and executing end-to-end marketing plans for local to national organizations.

· Josh Simpson, a resident of nearby Shelburne Falls, is a world-renown glassmaker and artist whose work is on view at the Museum. He served as Honorary Chair of the Museum’s 2018 “GALAxy” fundraiser along with former astronaut Cady Coleman.  

· Jeffrey Thomas, a resident of Williamstown and a scientist, educator, and entrepreneur, is the founder and Executive Director of Lever, the North Adams-based startup incubator.

· Michael Wynn, a resident and chief of police of Pittsfield, attended the U.S. Naval Academy, graduated from Williams College, and directed the Westside Neighborhood Resource Center (Pittsfield) before beginning his career in law enforcement.

"These new board members bring diverse and valuable skills to the museum at a time of renewed energy, enthusiasm, and optimism about what’s possible here," said Elizabeth McGraw, president of the board of trustees. "We are fortunate to have their knowledge and passion as we implement our interdisciplinary plans to interpret the three pillars of our mission; art, history, and science, and we guide the Berkshire Museum into a sustainable and relevant future for everyone in our community to enjoy."

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Letter: Federal Aid Needed to Stabilize Public School Funding

Letter to the Editor

To the Editor:

The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally altered the landscape for public education in just about every way. It has further exacerbated the inequities in our society, from access to technology and broadband in rural areas to the assurance of essential nutrition for underserved populations.

The economic fallout of the state shutdown and the upcoming economic issues that we are sure to face this tourism season do not change the need to provide appropriate opportunities and services for students along the entire educational spectrum, which not only includes resources related to academic achievement, but also social and emotional well-being, and at times, the necessary mitigation of socioeconomic inequalities.

To achieve these, we must all work together to secure the federal funding that will be necessary to stabilize our state economy. In addition, our state leaders must appropriately allocate funding so that our public schools are fully supported.
Impending financial challenges in the coming year will force Berkshire County School districts to make difficult decisions that will undoubtedly impact the quality of public education in our towns. In addition to lobbying for state and federal funding to continue providing a high quality education to Berkshire children, our government officials should consider another cost-saving measure: reducing or eliminating standardized testing. Not only would this save the state of Massachusetts considerable money that would be better spent on providing resources to schools, but it would also enable authentic teaching and deeper learning to flourish.

Educators want nothing more than for their students to succeed and thrive, but that process looks quite different from student to student. Berkshire County deserves a public education system that recognizes the unique needs of individual students and places more value on the relationships that spark learning than on tests that measure narrow skill sets.

County schools are already considering cutting teachers, education support professionals and resources in a time when additional supports will be needed to overcome the inequities exacerbated during remote learning. Reach out to your local, state and federal officials and let them know your concerns for the funding needed for public education.

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