Berkshire County Educator Recognition Awards celebrate teaching and learning

The eighth annual Berkshire County Educator Recognition Awards was held on May 3 at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. Standing between Vice President of Academic Affairs Cynthia Brown, left, and President James Birge, right, are recipients Ellen Kaiser, a Mount Greylock high school social studies teacher; Hoosac Valley Elementary first-grade teacher April Mazzeo; Kimberly Cormier, a sixth-grade English language arts teacher at Monument Valley Middle School, and

Berkshire Eagle Staff report

NORTH ADAMS — This past month the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts presented the eighth annual Berkshire County Educator Recognition Awards in collaboration with Berkshire County K-12 superintendents and Berkshire Community College.

The honorees acknowledged at a May 3 ceremony on the MCLA campus included: Deborah Hartwig earning the Early Childhood-Community Setting award for her work as a Head Start teacher at Berkshire Head Start in Adams; April Mazzeo earning the Pre-K-Grade 2 award for a first-grade teacher at Hoosac Valley Elementary School in the Adams-Cheshire Regional School District; Kimberly Comier earning the Grades 3-6 award for her work as a sixth-grade English language arts teacher at Monument Valley Regional Middle School in the Berkshire Hills Regional School District; and Ellen Kaiser earning the Grades 7-12 award for serving as a middle school social studies teacher at Mount Greylock Regional High School in the Mount Greylock Regional School District.

Also recognized during the ceremony was Susan Lubell ('11 M.Ed), the 2018 MCLA Alumni Educator of the Year. Lubell also traveled to and was recognized by the State Universities of Massachusetts at the State House in Boston on May 22.

"These exceptional teachers work diligently to teach, guide and encourage our children to to reach their full potential and to be the very best that they can be," said MCLA President James F. Birge in his written remarks. "It was our pleasure to honor and celebrate these fine award recipients, whose efforts have benefitted so many children throughout the community."

Hartwig holds her associate's degree from BCC and her bachelor of science degree from MCLA. A lead teacher since 2005, she leads as a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) coach under the Improving Teacher Quality (ITQ) grant, of which Head Start is a partnering organization.

A teacher for 11 years, Mazzeo previously taught pre-kindergarten and third grade at St. Mark's School in Pittsfield. Her work as a STEAM site coordinator and building leader under the multi-year ITQ grant, which is administered by MCLA, provided important, long-term professional development for her colleagues. She holds her bachelor of science degree from MCLA, and her masters of education degree from American International College in Springfield.

Cormier was a preschool teacher who also taught the sixth grade at Undermountain Elementary School in Sheffield before moving to Monument Valley in 2008. There, she also serves as a curriculum articulation project leader, and serves on numerous school and district committees. She holds her bachelor of arts degree from St. Joseph College and her master of art degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Kaiser has served in numerous educational roles, including as a curriculum coordinator, a middle school division leader, a team leader, and in leadership roles such as assistant principal and co-principal. She holds her bachelor of arts degree from MCLA, and her master of education degree from Lesley University in Cambridge.

Lubell, director of special education at the Berkshire Arts and Technology (BART) Charter Public School in Adams, was one of nine educators — each of whom is a graduate of the state university's teacher preparations programs — to be recognized for teaching excellence at the state level.

At BART for more than a decade, Lubell started her education career as a substitute teacher. She went on to become a paraprofessional, then a special education teacher, a special education coordinator, and finally the director of special education.

After raising her family, she enrolled in the Master of Education program at MCLA, with a concentration in special education, and found herself "profoundly moved" by the curriculum she encountered at the college, which was taught by a group of committed and insightful professors. Both her mind and perspective, she said, "were expanded and deepened by the caring and nurturing educators at MCLA."