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Local Schools Receive Olmsted Grants from Williams College

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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Williams College has awarded the 2020 Bicentennial Olmsted Awards for Faculty and Curricular Development to nine area schools.
 
Each entity will receive $5,000 for professional and curricular development projects.
 
The schools and districts are Hoosac Valley Regional School District in Cheshire, the Berkshire Arts and Technology Charter Public School in Adams, Lanesborough Elementary School, McCann Technical School in North Adams, North Adams Public Schools, Pownal (Vt.) Elementary School, and Mount Greylock Regional School, Williamstown Elementary and  Pine Cobble School, all in Williamstown.
 
Hoosac Valley will expand its practices of guiding and intervening in students' development of social-emotional skills. Focusing on uniformity and consistency in its practices throughout the district, it will establish universal expectations and implement a consistent professional development plan to support students' social-emotional learning. The remaining funds will be allocated toward the materials and groups that aid the work of the district's student support centers.
 
BArT will continue an ongoing initiative to change the manner in which students engage with advanced material in the college-preparatory curriculum. The school will now require every student to pass an Advanced Placement (AP) course by graduation. The Olmsted funds will support this change by allowing the school to administer AP examinations and provide course-related materials and access to AP tests at no additional costs to students.
 
Lanesborough Elementary will partner with Playworks, the leading national nonprofit focused on transforming children's social and emotional health through playtime coaching, to make recess a safe and fun space. Using a combination of direct-service training and online resources, a consultant will provide two full-day workshops at the school and use virtual material to reinforce those strategies learned at the in-person sessions.
 
McCann Technical will continue its transition from traditional grading and assessments to a standards-based learning approach. The Olmsted funds will set up and train faculty in configuring the school management software to tailor it towards the new standards-based environment. In addition, the funds will help create and develop more standards for special education programs.
 
Mount Greylock Regional School will rebuild a vegetable and herb garden as a joint cross-curricular venture involving science classes and student organizations, including opportunities for design, management and harvesting, and science-based instruction. The food services director will also introduce the harvests into the autumn lunch rotations.
 
North Adams Public Schools will focus on the improvement of its science instruction. A deep two-year investigation into its existing needs, materials, and instructional approaches will help strengthen the program and increase the amount of creative, hands-on work in the curriculum. The Olmsted funds would directly support the establishment of a K-12 science team, who would engage in active student learning with professional development coaches.
 
Pine Cobble will use the grant for two projects. First, it will expand the work of the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, Action (IDEA) Committee by partnering with Teaching Tolerance, which will lead in-person professional development workshops with staff and faculty. Second, it will develop and expand the school's Our Whole Lives (OWLs) program. The OWLs program teaches students about topics like healthy relationships, self-care, gender and sexual identity, and puberty.
 
Pownal Elementary will develop its staff's trauma-informed practices by evaluating the effectiveness of existing monitoring systems for emotional and behavioral curricula.
 
Williamstown Elementary will use the grant in the same way as Lanesborough Elementary. Its partnership with Playworks will coach faculty and staff in leveraging the power of playtime for children's emotional and social health.
 
The local Olmsted Awards are funded by an endowment from the estates of George Olmsted Jr., Williams class of 1924 and his wife, Frances. The awards were established in 1993, on the occasion of Williams' Bicentennial Celebration. They are an extension of the national Olmsted Prizes, which are administered each year to secondary school teachers from around the country, nominated by students of Williams' senior class. Olmsted, a lifelong advocate of superior teaching, was president and chairman of the board of the S.D. Warren (Paper) Co.

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Targeted COVID-19 Testing Set for 8 At-Risk Communities

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
BOSTON — People in Western Massachusetts, and the Berkshires in particular, frequently complain the region is being ignored by a state government headquartered at the other end of the commonwealth.
 
On Wednesday, Gov. Charlie Baker announced a new program that will impact eight municipalities — none west of I-495.
 
But this is not the kind of list any town or city wants to make.
 
Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito used their daily press briefing to announce that the commonwealth will offer targeted free COVID-19 testing sites in Chelsea, Everett, Fall River, Lawrence, Lowell, Lynn, Marlborough, and New Bedford.
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