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Pittsfield School Committee Mourns Faculty Losses

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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The School Committee meets Wednesday night at Pittsfield High School.
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Pittsfield School Committee remembered Taconic High School teacher Kevin Harrington on Wednesday night. 
 
Before opening up its meeting Wednesday, the committee members held their typical moment of silence but made a special mention of Harrington who passed just last week.
 
"We want to remember the very sudden and tragic loss of Kevin Harrington a special education teacher at Taconic," Chairwoman Katherine Yon said. "He was just that: a special man, a special teacher, a special mentor, and a special friend to many."
 
Harrington collapsed in a classroom at Taconic last week after a medical incident. He was, a special education teacher, was a former Taconic student and was heavily involved in the athletic program. 
 
The school district brought in more than 20 professional counselors to serve students and staff in the days afterward.
 
"Let us send our thoughts and prayers to his family and to the entire Taconic community who are trying to deal with the great loss of a beloved staff member," Yon said. 
 
Superintendent Jason McCandless added it was a difficult week in Pittsfield and that this is the third time in his tenure a teacher had died while at work.
 
McCandless said Harrington is missed by the entire student body and even by those who have long graduated.
 
"He was just there for every kid ... I was struck by the number of kids I know for a fact did not have Kevin for a teacher but who felt like Kevin was there go-to guy," he said. "They felt he was there every day for them he was nondiscriminant of who he advocated for, who he was kind to, and who he stood as a mentor to."
 
He said it devastated the staff as well and thanked the PHS employees who, even though Pittsfield High was closed because of a water line break, gave up a day off to support colleagues at Taconic. 
 
McCandless also thanked Harrington's family for "sharing" him with the Pittsfield Public Schools family and said his legacy will be remembered. 
 
"He was a truly remarkable man whose legacy and shadow will continue really for decades with the amount of lives he touched," he said. "A tragic time but we are just happy to have gotten the opportunity to get to know Kevin."
 
The committee also took a moment to remember George Thomas Farley Jr. a former teacher, principal, and the father of state Rep. Tricia Farley-Bouvier. He died on Saturday.
 
"He was a highly respected member of the corps of principals in the district when I first started working here," School Committee member William Cameron said. "I think he was the sort of person anyone would want teaching their children ... he was a gentleman, a scholar, and dedicated to education."
 
Yon said Farley was a classroom teacher throughout the district through the 1950s. In 1959, he became the principal of the former Briggs School and went on to serve as principal in other district schools.
 
He was critical in developing the first library at the elementary level in the district and was the first to implement computers in the classroom.
  
After the moment of silence, Yon congratulated all School Committee members who decided to run for re-election. 
 
"We have had an election and I would say thank you to all who ran for re-election and were elected once again," she said. 
 
Incumbents William Cameron, Daniel Elias, Dennis Powell, and current Chairwoman Katherine Yon all were re-elected.
 
She said she was excited to welcome new members Alison McGee and Mark Brazeau, whom Cameron said he was impressed by.
 
"I think they will be outstanding additions to the committee," he said.
 
Brazeau and McGee will join the committee in the new year.
 
Yon and Elias did make a point to thank former member Tom Perrea for running.
 
"He was a very good member and an honest and good man," Elias said. "I want to thank him for running it is hard to put yourself out there in full view."

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PEDA Director Thurston Stepping Down in April

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The head of the Pittsfield Economic Development Authority is stepping down at the end of April.
 
Corydon "Cory" Thurston last week announced his retirement as executive director of the development agency he's lead for nine years.
 
"It has been a positive time and I think there is a new energy and I think one of the best accomplishments is getting the city and PEDA to work collaboratively," Thurston said in an interview Thursday evening.
 
Thurston had initially planned to retire three years ago but ended up cutting back to part time as PEDA looked to consolidate its office and focus more on collaborating with the city with matters having to do with the William Stanley Business Park and development.
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