NORTH ADAMS, MASS. — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) has announced the recipients of the Sixth Annual Berkshire County Educator Recognition Award. The award, given by MCLA in collaboration with Berkshire Community College (BCC) and the Berkshire County Superintendents’ Roundtable, was created to honor local educators for their exemplary service to the teaching profession and the community.

This year’s recipients will be recognized on Thursday, May 5, 5:30-7:30 p.m., in the MCLA Church Street Center’s social hall. The event is free and open to the public.

The recipients are Peggy Shartrand (Early Childhood, Community Setting), a preschool teacher at the Berkshire County Head Start at Johnson School in North Adams; Ann Kinne (Elementary Pre-K-Grade 2), a pre-K and Kindergarten teacher at Muddy Brook Elementary School, Berkshire Hills Regional School District; Michele Rondeau ’89 (Grades 3-6), a fifth grade mathematics teacher at Greylock Elementary School, North Adams Public Schools; and Lisken Van Pelt Dus (Grades 7-12), a middle school English and world languages teacher at Monument Mountain Regional High School, Berkshire Hills Regional School District.

“We are pleased to honor this year’s recipients of the Berkshire County Educator Recognition Award in recognition of the significant work they do as they guide, teach and encourage the youth of our region,” said Cynthia Brown, vice president of academic affairs at MCLA. 

Shartrand’s compassion, enthusiasm, and ability to connect with children have been evident to her colleagues since she first entered Head Start as a parent in 1994, according to MCLA Dean Howard Jacob “Jake” Eberwein III, Ed.D. 

Shartrand began her 20-year career in early childhood education at Head Start in 1996, rising from substitute to assistant teacher, and finally to lead teacher. She models a positive attitude for her students and makes her classroom a welcoming place for both children and parents, Eberwein said. Her honest and sensitive approach to problem-solving encourages families to return and touch base with her even years after their child leaves her classroom, he added.

Her involvement with family and youth activities through the First Baptist Church and the Camp Ashmere summer program expands Shartrand’s positive influence beyond the many children and families she has supports at Head Start.

Shartrand holds her associate’s degree in early childhood development from BCC in Pittsfield, and is in the process of earning her bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary studies at MCLA.

Kinne is known county-wide as a leader, advocate, and consummate professional, Eberwein said.  According to colleagues who recommended her for this award, membership in Kinne’s class at age four is one of the best predictors of reading at grade level in third grade at Muddy Brook, and, parents line up to get their children into her program.

Kinne recently volunteered to take over a colleague’s Kindergarten class, stepping in when that teacher needed a leave of absence. For six weeks, she created lesson plans for both her colleague’s class and her own to ensure that both classes were able to stay on track for success. This example of Kinne’s generosity is one of the countless ways she has supported teachers and students throughout her 25 years in early education, Eberwein said.

Kinne holds a Bachelor of Science degree in education from Lesley College in Cambridge, and a Master of Science in special education from American International College in Springfield.

Over her 22 years with the North Adams School District, Rondeau has developed a sense of the educator as a coach, believing that all students can succeed, Eberwein said. Each year, Rondeau gives up her own time after school to tutor students who are struggling with math concepts. Her students’ test scores consistently are above the statewide average in mathematics.

Rondeau is known for her deep knowledge of the art of teaching, and for her ability to openly self-reflect on her performance as a teacher, and has an ability to foster a “community of inquiry,” Eberwein added, as her students know their voices will be heard and they feel encouraged to develop, create, and pursue their talent.

Rondeau holds her Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education from North Adams State College and a Master of Arts degree in interdisciplinary studies from Cambridge College in Cambridge.

Van Pelt Dus is champion of education in every area of her personal and professional life, Eberwein said. She serves as the English Department leader at Monument Mountain Regional High School, and previously served as project leader for academic affairs. She is the founding coordinator of the school’s “Poetry Out Loud” program, and a chief instructor at Elm Street Martial Arts in Pittsfield.

Van Pelt Dus also has led several writing workshops for adults and mentored high-school women as they crafted contributions to the Berkshire Festival of Women Writers. As a poet, writer, teacher, and athlete, Lisken has served as a role model to all of her students since she began teaching in Berkshire County over 30 years ago.

Van Pelt Dus holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in religion from Williams College in Williamstown, and a Master of Arts degree in comparative literature from UMASS-Amherst.

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) is the Commonwealth's public liberal arts college and a campus of the Massachusetts state university system. MCLA promotes excellence in learning and teaching, innovative scholarship, intellectual creativity, public service, applied knowledge, and active and responsible citizenship. MCLA graduates are prepared to be practical problem solvers and engaged, resilient global citizens.

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