New BCC president, head of Miss Hall's School share experiences


The 2012-13 school year in Berkshire County brought a number of changes in administrative staff at local schools, from both the K-12 sector and in higher education.

The Learning page is running a series of articles briefly highlighting these new administrators and what they've learned since being on the job, based on their responses to a brief e-mail questionnaire.

Last week, the series took a spring break with local schools.

This week's report is the fifth installation in the series and features two administrators based in Pittsfield: Ellen Kennedy, president of Berkshire Community College and Margaret "Peggy" Jablonski, head of Miss Hall's School.

The whole series can be read online at

The next group of profiles will run April 30.

Meet Ellen Kennedy

Position: President of Berkshire Community College, based in Pittsfield.

Hometown and current town of residence: Kennedy is from Lynn and currently lives in Williamstown.

Previous position: She previously served as interim president of the college and was also the vice president of administration and finance and chief financial officer for BCC. She has also served as the director of development for WFCR and was the chief advancement officer at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts.

A favorite thing about your new job: There are many things I enjoy about my work, but I draw my greatest inspiration from our students. Many of them have overcome, or are dealing with, serious challenges. Most of them are making huge sacrifices for a college education or workforce training -- balancing work and family obligations.

For some, just getting to campus can take several hours by bus. Many are the first in their families to pursue an education at this level, often in a language that is not their own. Many are returning veterans seeking ways to use their military skills, knowledge, common sense and personal drive to reintegrate into a different kind of society or daily life.

When I listen to their stories, it inspires me to do all I can to help make their hopes and dreams a reality by supporting their commitment and hard work with the resources they need to succeed. We at BCC are here for them. They are our joy.

One goal you have or issue you'd like to address during the current school year: I would like to get a more clear understanding and consensus on the transition of our students from high school or GED program to college. Many of our students spend their first year or so at BCC just preparing themselves to do college work. That consumes resources at the same time as it can be frustrating for them.

Our goal is student success and completion. I concur in the priority being put on this issue by the state. How can we, as a public education system on all levels, better prepare our students for college work? Are the expectations reasonable? Do we accurately measure their needs? What can we do to make the process a positive one with positive outcomes at the same time as we deploy our limited resources most productively?

Meet Peggy Jablonski

Position: Head of school for Miss Hall's School, a private, college preparatory boarding and day school located in Pittsfield, for girls in Grades 9 through 12.

Hometown and current town of residence: Jablonski is originally from Springfield and currently lives in Pittsfield.

Previous position: She has served as vice president for student affairs at the University of New Haven (2011-12); was vice chancellor for student affairs at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2004-10); and served as dean for campus life at Brown University (2001-04).

A favorite thing about your new job: My favorite part of my job is interacting with the incredible students and dedicated faculty at Miss Hall's. When friends ask me about my switch from working on college campuses to working at Miss Hall's, I tell them I am working with young women who will go out and change the world. I truly believe that.

One goal you have or issue you'd like to address during the current school year: During the current year, we have continued to move forward in planning for new academic spaces on our campus and have continued to raise the discourse -- our recently completed documentary film, "A Seat at the Table," is an example of that -- around educating and preparing young women for lives of purpose and leadership.

To reach Jenn Smith:,
or (413) 496-6239.
On Twitter: @JennSmith_Ink


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