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McCann Tech Working to Keep Students Connected

By Jack GuerinoiBerkshires Staff
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NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — McCann Technical School students are making do with remote learning but the school still hasn't determined how it will deal with graduation.
 
"It is going well, and I have to give a ton of credit to our faculty and staff," Principal Justin Kratz said in an interview Friday. "They have done a really phenomenal job in something that teachers were never formally trained ... they have really stepped up to the challenge 
 
Kratz gave an update to the School Committee a its meeting held remotely Thursday evening. The meeting was unable to be live stream to the public so the committee opted to post a recording online at a future date.
 
On Friday, Kratz said, for the most part, McCann has had few issues keeping students connected during the novel coronavirus pandemic that has closed schools across the nation. He said those who did not have devices for remote learning were able to borrow one from the school. 
 
"We didn't have the same magnitude of need like Pittsfield having to get out thousands of laptops," he said. "But every kid who needed a device got one. We had enough in the building to take care of the students in need."
 
He said there may be a dozen or so students without an internet connection at home so the school has been delivering other learning materials.
 
Kratz said teaching shop remotely has been somewhat of a challenge
 
"It is definitely difficult and our shop instructors are really coming up with some creative stuff to present material but ultimately you cant replace hands-on shop experience with anything virtual," he said. "You can try to supplement it or prime the students for next year."
 
For example, culinary students are watching videos to learn knife skills but there are still challenges. Even for computer heavy shops, students don't have access to the school's powerful machines or the expensive software used in class.
 
He said they are trying to reinforce what students have already learned and are preparing them for future lessons when the school's doors open again.
 
"No matter how you slice it or dice it there is going to be some learning loss when we come back," he said. "So we are trying to look at things the students would have received and get them ready and primed to learn when they get back." 
 
The principal said they are also extending support to families and working closely with students who may be less engaged during the pandemic.
 
"I am really pleased with how much our students are participating but like any school, we have a handful of students we are working with to raise their level of engagement," he said. "Our councilors have been doing a fantastic job reaching out to families to offer support. All is going as well as it could in this type of situation."
 
As for graduation, McCann is holding off on any decision until they have more information.
 
"We felt like a moving target was not going to be helpful to parents who may want to invite people or make plans," he said. "So instead of putting out a bunch of hypotheticals early on that, we would have to change we are waiting."

Tags: McCann,   remote learning,   

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Know Your Risk Tolerance at Different Stages of Life

Submitted by Edward Jones

As an investor, you will always need to deal with risk of some kind. But how can you manage the risk that has been made clear by the recent volatility in the financial markets? The answer to this question may depend on where you are in life. 

Let's look at some different life stages and how you might deal with risk at each of them: 

• When you are first starting out: If you are early in your career, with perhaps four or even five decades to go until you retire, you can likely afford to invest primarily for growth, which also means you will be taking on a higher level of risk, as risk and reward are positively correlated. But, given your age, you have time to overcome the market downturns that are both inevitable and a normal part of investing. Consequently, your risk tolerance may be relatively high. Still, even at this stage, being over-aggressive can be costly. 

• When you are in the middle stages: At this time of your life, you are well along in your career, and you are probably working on at least a couple of financial goals, such as saving for retirement and possibly for your children's college education. So, you still need to be investing for growth, which means you likely will need to maintain a relatively high risk tolerance. Nonetheless, it's a good idea to have some balance in your portfolio, so you will want to consider a mix of investments that align with each of your goals. 

• When you are a few years from retirement: Now, you might have already achieved some key goals – perhaps your kids have finished college and you have paid off your mortgage. This may mean you have more money available to put away for retirement, but you still will have to think carefully about how much risk you are willing to take. Since you’re going to retire soon, you might consider rebalancing your portfolio to include some more conservative investments, whose value is less susceptible to financial market fluctuations. The reason? In just a few years, when you are retired, you will need to start taking withdrawals from your investment portfolio – essentially, you will be selling investments, so, as much as possible, you will want to avoid selling them when their price is down. Nonetheless, having a balanced and diversified portfolio doesn't fully protect against a loss. However, you can further reduce the future risk of being overly dependent on selling variable investments by devoting a certain percentage of your portfolio to cash and cash equivalents and designating this portion to be used for your daily expenses during the years immediately preceding, and possibly spilling into, your retirement. 

• When you are retired: Once you are retired, you might think you should take no risks at all. But you could spend two or three decades in retirement, so you may need some growth potential in your portfolio to stay ahead of inflation. Establishing a withdrawal rate – the amount you take out each year from your investments – that's appropriate for your lifestyle and projected longevity can reduce the risk of outliving your money. Of course, if there's an extended market downturn during any time of your retirement, you may want to lower your withdrawal rate temporarily. 

As you can see, your tolerance for risk, and your methods of dealing with it, can change over time. By being aware of this progression, you can make better-informed investment decisions.

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