BCC Receives Grant from Berkshire Life Charitable Foundation for Disability Resource Center

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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Berkshire Community College (BCC) Foundation has been awarded a $3,950 grant from Berkshire Life Charitable Foundation to support the college's Disability Resource Center (DRC). 
 
The funds will be used to purchase assistive technology equipment, including digital "smart pens" and recorders, for students with documented disabilities.
 
Nearly 200 students with disabilities enroll at BCC each year, representing about 15 percent of the total student population. The DRC assists BCC in meeting the needs of these students and in complying with federal and state mandates designed to help them succeed. Specifically, the DRC coordinates specialized academic advising, arranges for alternative test-taking, refers students to local service agencies, assesses learning strengths and weaknesses, and identifies alternative access routes for students with physical disabilities.
 
"The BCC Foundation is grateful to be a recipient of a Berkshire Life Charitable Foundation grant," said Shela Levante, BCC Director of Development. "The pandemic has disrupted the learning of all students, and it's a top priority of the college to ensure that all students have the resources they need to thrive. By partnering with Berkshire Life, we are able to provide the educational support services our students need to maximize their potential for academic success."
 
Assistive technology can be an asset students with disabilities, who often struggle with attention, focus and information-processing. Smart pens, for example, promote independence in note-taking. As the student writes partial notes, the smart pen records audio and uses an infrared camera to sync what the student writes with the audio. After a lecture, students simply tap on a word and the pen will sync to the place in the lecture in which the professor was discussing that topic.
 
In addition to the DRC, BCC offers a range of support services in support of its mission to foster success in the classroom. These services include transition to college programs, English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) programs, tutorial services, a writing center, a TRIO Student Support Services program and personal counseling.

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Pittsfield Picks Veteran Employees as ARPA Fund Managers

By Brittany PolitoiBerkshires Staff

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Two familiar faces will be serving as the city's special projects managers for the $41 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds.

Director of Community Development Deanna Ruffer and former Director of Public Health Gina Armstrong will share the one full-time position as co-managers.

Mayor Linda Tyer on Monday informed the City Council by email that Ruffer would be resigning from her current post in early to mid-February to take on this new role.

Rather than a resignation, Ruffer sees this as a transition. Armstrong resigned from her position in September, citing a need for more balance in her life and to spend more time with her family.

In the fall, the special projects manager position was created to oversee the city's allocation of ARPA funding. It will likely only be in place over the next five years, until the spending deadline in 2026, and will be paid in full through the ARPA funds.

"I am very excited to transition from the city's Community Development Director Position to co-special project manager for the City's American Rescue Plan program. This opportunity coincides with a personal desire to adjust my work-life balance to allow me to spend more time with family and pursuing personal interests," Ruffer wrote to iBerkshires in an email.

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