NORTH ADAMS, MASS. — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) has announced the recipients of the Ninth Annual Berkshire County Educator Recognition Award. This award, given by MCLA in collaboration with Berkshire County K-12 superintendents and Berkshire Community College (BCC), was created to honor the region’s exceptional teachers.

This year’s recipients will be recognized at 5 p.m. on May 2, 2019, in the atrium of MCLA’s Feigenbaum Center for Science and Innovation. The event is free and open to the public.

This year’s awardees are Lisa Corkins, executive director of Williamstown Community Preschool; Michele Puleri, fifth-grade teacher at Lee Elementary School; and Kathleen Erickson, mathematics teacher at Monument Mountain High School.

“We at MCLA know that local teachers work diligently to guide our children and encourage them to pursue their passions, develop their talents, and live meaningful lives,” said MCLA President James F. Birge. “As always, we are delighted to honor these exceptional teachers, whose efforts bolster the confidence and ability of so many children in Berkshire County. 

“Educators are the unsung heroes of our community and we are proud to help honor these three gifted teachers,” said Ellen Kennedy, President of Berkshire Community College. “Teachers are the cornerstones of our public education system and Ms. Corkins, Ms. Puleri, and Ms. Erickson are role models for teachers everywhere. Our children and our collective futures are better off because of their efforts and we are so fortunate to have them in the Berkshires.”

“The American Public School has long been our nation's foundation for creating social and economic opportunities for all people, and for ensuring an educated populace capable of preserving and maintaining the principles of democratic rule and governance,” said Berkshire Superintendents’ Roundtable president and Pittsfield Public Schools Superintendent Jason “Jake” McCandless. “America's public school teachers are the builders that partner every day with children, families, their communities, and each other to build learning on that foundation. These three honorees perfectly represent the span of vital work that our teachers in the Berkshires take on and make real. The entire Superintendents Roundtable are proud of their efforts and grateful for the opportunity to recognize not only these individuals but the profession itself.”

About the honorees

Lisa Corkins, Executive Director, Williamstown Community Preschool: Corkins has worked at Williamstown Community Preschool (WCP) since 2010, where she started as a teacher before becoming an Educational Coordinator, and then executive director this past fall. Prior to her time at WCP, Lisa worked as a childcare provider for the childcare program at C.T. Plunkett. She was serves on the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee in Williamstown as a representative of the population of young families and school age children. She holds her Bachelor of Arts from University of Massachusetts – Amherst.

“Lisa's attention to sustaining the culture of caring that has defined WCP for generations is obvious," said Mark Robertson, president of the WCP board of directors and current WCP parent. “She also understands that the world of early childhood education is constantly evolving, and for WCP to remain strong, we all must continue to be eager learners. Lisa is a model representative of the next generation of Berkshire early education leaders, and we're thrilled for her to be recognized with this award.”

Michele Puleri, Fifth Grade Teacher, Lee Elementary School, Lee Public Schools: Puleri has been a fifth grade teacher since 2005, prior to which she held numerous other positions at Lee Public Schools, including special education teacher and peer education teacher. She has served as the coordinator for new teacher mentoring for the district since 2017. She is also active in the Lee community, serving on the board of the Lee Youth Association and coaching both soccer and basketball. She holds a Bachelor of Science in elementary education from Springfield College, a Master of Education from American International College, and a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies in Educational Leadership from Cambridge College.

“On behalf of the Lee Public Schools and our entire community, we are so pleased that Michele Puleri has been recognized as one our region's best,” said Lee Public Schools Superintendent H. Jake Eberwein. “Michele is a teacher-among-teachers and is a passionate educator who is truly committed to the success of every child, and service to her community. Michele accepts this award on behalf the many exceptional educators in the Lee Public Schools and across the Berkshires.”

Kathleen Erickson, Mathematics Teacher, Monument Mountain High School, Berkshire Hills Regional School District: Erickson has taught mathematics at Monument Monument since 1997, before which she taught mathematics at both Concord Carlisle High School and Newton North High School. She is an active member of the school, serving on numerous committees and collaborative projects, including co-curricular projects and mentoring of new teachers. She holds a Bachelor of Science in engineering from Cornell University and Master of Education from University of Massachusetts – Amherst. She is the recipient of the 2011 Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

"Kathy is an exceptional teacher and colleague,” said Berkshire Hills Regional School District Superintendent Peter Dillon. “She makes deep connections with her students and shares her love of learning and math widely. Kathy is a great representative of what thoughtful educators do to set students up for success.”

The celebratory event will also recognize MCLA education students who are preparing to become educators, and the many cooperating classroom teachers who support them through field experiences and an intensive, semester-long, student teaching placement.

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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