Photo Gallery | Pittsfield Peachers set up classrooms for start of school year

PITTSFIELD — As many as 50 new teachers and other educators will begin a two-day orientation program Thursday morning at Reid Middle School, designed to familiarize them with the policies, programs and goals of the Pittsfield Public Schools.

Judy Rush, the district's director of curriculum and teacher mentoring program coordinator, said teachers, speech and physical therapists and other professionals will first meet to hear Superintendent Jason "Jake" McCandless and other speakers welcome them and provide information on a variety of educational, orientational and employment topics.


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McCandless said he, Special Education Director Gretchen West and the Pittsfield school principals "are thrilled about the caliber of people who are coming into our district."

He said they include new teachers from excellent college programs and educators coming from other districts.

The superintendent will provide an overview of the system and speak about the District Improvement Plan being developed, Rush said. Deputy Superintendent Joseph Curtis will follow, focusing on the curriculum, she said, and Brendan Sheran, president of the United Educators of Pittsfield, representing the teachers and other educators, will talk about the union's role and what it provides.

"This will be an all-day session," Rush said of the orientation, which also will continue on Friday.

During the day, new teachers also will be assigned a mentoring teacher to support them during their first year. And the district's cultural proficiency coach Shirley Edgerton and case worker Marie Richardson, will speak to the group, part of the mentoring program that will continue with other sessions throughout the school year.

At noontime, a luncheon will be held in the Reid cafeteria, and Mayor Linda M. Tyer and members of the School Committee will meet with the new educators at that time.

"It looks like we have a really nice blend of educators," Rush said of the new staff members, including some from out of state, along with several Pittsfield High and Taconic High graduates returning to the city and the school system.

Ceira O’Brien, a new teacher at Conte Elementary School in Pittsfield, sets up magnetic letters for her first-grade classroom. O’Brien taught
Ceira O'Brien, a new teacher at Conte Elementary School in Pittsfield, sets up magnetic letters for her first-grade classroom. O'Brien taught third grade at St. Stanislaus Kostka School in Adams before making the switch to first grade in Pittsfield. (Stephanie Zollshan Berkshire Eagle Staff)

On Friday, the second day of new teacher orientation sessions, Rush said technology training will be a major focus, including meetings at the school building where each will be working with principals and other staff members. Student adjustment councilor team leader Ann Marie Carpenter will speak to the teachers concerning student behavioral support and classroom management.

In addition to the teachers and others working in the classrooms, the district welcomes a new principal at Stearns Elementary School, Robin Zwack; Jared Materas, the interim principal at Egremont School; Julie Belli-Nelson, interim dean of students at Egremont, and Kristen Palatt, assistant principal of teaching at learning at Morningside Community School.

Contact Jim Therrien at 413-496-6247.