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Beverly Gans, left, Vice Principal Angela Johansen, Principal Matthew Bishop and Dean of Students Michael Taber. Gans has been at Taconic High for 40 years and working the Pittsfield Public Schools for 60.

Beverly Gans Marks 60 Years & Counting in the Pittsfield Schools

By Sabrina DammsiBerkshires Staff
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PITTSFIELD, Mass. — The Pittsfield Public Schools recognized Beverly Gans for her 60 years of service with the district with a lunch and crystal plaque on Friday. Gans will mark 40 years as secretary to principal at Taconic High School in June.
 
"It's been a wonderful experience, and I wouldn't trade it … I've seen generations go through,"  she said. "I've seen kids go through, I've seen their kids go through, I've seen their grandkids go through … it's just been a wonderful life for me to have this,"
 
Her former students will come back to the school surprised to see the secretary they connected with years prior. 
 
The students, staff, and administration are what make this school great, she said. 
 
"I bleed green and gold," Gans said. Last year on her 77th birthday, the faculty bought her green and gold Nike sneakers that she wears every Friday. 
 
She has become a pillar of the district over the last six decades, so much so that even district leaders look up to her. 
 
"Most people come to me for anything and everything, even in the district. I mean, there's so many new people. I mean, most of the secretaries today, I don't even know them," Gans said. 
 
"They change all the time, and when they get somebody new that doesn't know something, they'll say, 'Well, call Bev. She can help you with that.'"
 
Gran's mark is clearly seen in the tulips, her favorite flower, planted on the school grounds by horticulture students, a tribute to traditions she has worked to maintain. 
 
"She's very traditional and likes to keep things a certain way so that they continue. I think her legacy will be that she kept Taconic as intact as she could for all these years," Taconic Vice Principal Angela Johansen said. 
 
Since she has been with the school so long she has come to understand its identity and works to maintain that. The work she does is centered around caring for and supporting each other and the students, Taconic Principal Matthew Bishop said. 
 
This is a life not a job, Gans tells her colleagues consistently. 
 
She is the first one in the building. If her door is shut there is something wrong, Johansen said. 
 
"I think one of the things that helped me coming into this role as principal is to have somebody who understands our history, our traditions, what our values are, and she's helped uphold those," Bishop said. 
 
"And the School Committee works to make sure that you know when we do start to make changes or do treasure that we don't lose our true identity."
 
Taconic leaders said she has become a sort of behind-the-scenes boss. In fact, she had her hand in selecting Bishop, the high school's current principal. 
 
Gans has known Bishop since he was a student teacher at Taconic and encouraged him to continue his education. 
 
Bishop worked at Taconic for a few years until an opportunity arose for him at Pittsfield High School. 
 
When the new Taconic High School building was constructed, Principal John Vosburgh resigned in June, leaving the district with a few months to find his replacement.
 
The district was opening the $120.8 million building in August and did not have time to advertise and find a replacement, so Gran's told former Superintendent Jason McCandless what the best option was. 
 
"I said, 'You've only got one choice … and your best bet is to bring Bishop over from Pittsfield High School … and [Henry Duval] can fill in as the interim principal there,'" she said. 
 
Over the years, Gans has helped support educators who started as substitute teachers and have since become district leaders, Taconic Dean of Students Michael Taber said.
 
"[Students and families] love her. Even the parents who come back want to know if Mrs. Gans is still here. It's amazing, it really is, the way that she is known by the entire Taconic community. She's a fixture," Taber said.  
 
If you have a question ask Gans, she will know the answer, Johansen said. 
 
"I was a teacher in the building before becoming an administrator …and she encouraged me to take the next step and to get into administration," she said.  
 
Gans has experienced various district changes, from school closures to district reorganizations and new school openings. 
 
She started working as a secretary for Pittsfield High School's truant officer in May 1964. That September, she went to work for two of the district's elementary schools: Mercer, which is now the Administration Center, and Rice School, which was torn down in the 1970s.
 
In 1976, she moved to the newly built Morningside Morningside Community School as secretary to the principal. She returned to Mercer two years when it was opened as the Administration Center and stayed there until going to Taconic in 1984.
 
She calls Taconic High home, avoiding taking days off to be there for the students and faculty who have become like a family. 
 
In 2018, she was among the last people in the high school's old brick building, which was being "torn down around her."
 
She said they all but dragged her out as the construction crew was putting up the plastic to remove the asbestos. 
 
Sixty years in, Gans is not even considering retiring and looks forward to continuing her work with the school.

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Pittsfield Firefighters Snuff Cellar Blaze

PITTSFIELD, Mass. — Firefighters extinguished a fire in a West Housatonic Street in about 20 minutes. 
 
The blaze started near a dryer but the cause was being investigated.
 
The department responded to the call of smoke in a building at about 12:23 p.m. on Sunday. Upon arrival, firefighters found a light smoke showing from the front and back of the building. 
 
The found an active fire in the basement of the 2 1/2-story, wood-frame structure at 92 West Housatonic, which is being rented as a single-family occupancy.
 
Engine 1 crew advanced a 1 3/4-inch hose to the rear of the building, entered the bulkhead access to the cellar, and conducted suppression activities. Engine 3 crew conducted a primary search of the building. Engine 6 secured a water supply to E1 and Tower 1 ventilated the building. Engine 5 responded as the Rapid
Intervention Team for firefighter safety.
 
The fire was under control and extinguished in 20 minutes. At the time of this writing there were no civilian or firefighter injuries reported. 
 
Fire damage was confined to the laundry area in the cellar with the dryer unit, clothing, and household cleaning supplies sustaining damage. There was minimal smoke damage with the entire building being ventilated in short order.
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