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Mount Greylock Schools Present Improvement Plans to School Committee

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
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WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Lanesborough Elementary School is hoping to form community partnerships to help teach its pupils about sustainability.
 
The kids already are leading the way.
 
"About five weeks ago, we had a fourth-grade group start the Lanesborough Environmental Squad club," Principal Nolan Pratt said last week. "They're all about being environmentally friendly and seeing what we can do within the school.
 
"That kind of inspired this goal within the School Council. We want to reach out to community partners … and do field trips to see places working on sustainability. I believe they're putting a solar field at Skyline [Country Club] for example. Maybe we can go see how that works."
 
Pratt on Thursday presented the LES School Improvement Plan to the Mount Greylock Regional School Committee. The annual list of aspirations is the product of the School Council, a body that helps principals develop educational goals, review budgets and draft the annual SIP, which helps guide the elected School Committee in developing budgets.
 
All three of the district's schools presented their SIPs to the School Committee at its June meeting.
 
Pratt explained that LES' plan includes three broad goals: create more access to social-emotional learning and mental health support, create systems to account for learning loss created by the pandemic and the aforementioned focus on sustainability.
 
"We are right in the middle of hiring a social worker to implement some other cool things we're doing," Pratt said. "Each week, we will now have a community circle run by the social worker. We'll start with some core curriculum like anti-bullying, stuff like that. And, as it progresses, we hope it builds into relationships and talks about all the [diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging] stuff that needs to happen in order for it to become a really welcoming school environment."
 
DEIB, a major priority for first-year Superintendent Jason McCandless, has a presence in all of the schools' improvement plans.
 
The School Council at the middle-high school broke its plan into five broad goals with numerous subsections. Goal No. 4: "Holistically incorporate [Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Belonging and Access] efforts and learnings into all facets of Mount Greylock Regional School."
 
"I think you will see in that goal a lot of building on what we presented last year and also as much incorporation as possible of the district goals," said Andrea Malone, the parent who chairs the Mount Greylock School Council. "You will see some familiar language in there from last year's plan and also from what we've seen at the district level."
 
The middle-high school council plans to, among other things, "ensure the hiring and retention of a more representative professional corps of educators and leaders" and expand programming with the school's Multicultural Student Union.
 
At Williamstown Elementary, the improvement plan for 2021-22 includes training for staff and a curriculum and materials review with an eye toward diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging Principal Cindy Sheehy said.
 
"We keep saying those words, but for our elementary school, how are we going to do that?" Sheehy said. "What are we actually going to do to achieve a school that's focused in those practices? For me, we can put all the curriculum in place or books … but at the heart of it is continuing to provide professional development for our staff. We have to be able to provide our staff with resources, with dialogue, with material to be able to help them generate conversations with our students. It starts with our staff.
 
"We are looking at our curriculum with a really specific lens. Are we presenting material to our students that is representative of all people everywhere?"
 
WES also will be looking to continue integrating technology in the classroom, including at the kindergarten level, Sheehy said.
 
"I feel like I would be remiss after the year we had if I didn't revisit technology," she said. "One of the biggest things that we've learned is trying to plan for the expansion at the kindergarten level. We are a school that is incredibly fortunate. We are incredibly lucky with the tools that we have in regard to technology. But from the pandemic, one of the things that really was highlighted was whether we have the expansion of technology at the kindergarten level.
 
"And that is something our kindergarten teachers are looking for, being able to provide their students with a different medium to learn. And I'd love to be able to start to examine that for this next school year to see what, for the future, we can put in place."

Tags: MGRSD,   school improvement,   

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Clark Art, Images Present Norwegian Film Series

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Throughout August, the Clark Art Institute and Images Cinema present four Norwegian films in conjunction with the exhibition "Nikolai Astrup: Visions of Norway." 
 
This virtual film series is free, and each film can be viewed online for a week. 
 
"Astrup: Catching the Flame" (August 4–10)
The series kicks off with "Catching the Flame" (Astrup: Flammen Over Jølster) (2019), directed by Pål Øie. The film tells the life story of Nikolai Astrup, one of Norway's greatest and most original painters. Growing up in a strict religious community, Astrup broke with his father, a Lutheran priest, at a young age and escaped to the continent to immerse himself in the world of art. Returning to his native Jølster, he frequently clashed with the small-minded locals, but he also found inspiration in the love of his wife Engel and the natural beauty of the valleys of western Norway. Danish actor Thure Lindhardt stars as an artist who stands today as one of Norway's greats. (Run time: 1 hour, 19 minutes) 
 
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