It's Teacher Appreciation Week: Three educators recognized at MCLA

The 2019 Berkshire County Educator Award recipients, from left, include Kathleen Erickson, mathematics teacher at Monument Mountain High School; Lisa Corkins, executive director of Williamstown Community Preschool, and Michele Puleri, fifth-grade teacher at Lee Elementary School. Standing next to them are Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts Vice President of Academic Affairs Emily Allen Williams and North Adams Public Schools Superintendent Barbara Malkas, who helped emc

NORTH ADAMS — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts celebrated three local educators last Thursday during the ninth annual Berkshire County Educator Recognition Awards ceremony, held in the atrium of MCLA's Feigenbaum Center for Science and Innovation.

The program is co-presented by MCLA, Berkshire County K-12 Superintendents Roundtable and Berkshire Community College.

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.

BCC President Ellen Kennedy called the honorees "role models" and said, "Our children and our collective futures are better off because of their efforts and we are so fortunate to have them in the Berkshires."

Berkshire Superintendents' Roundtable president and Pittsfield Public Schools Superintendent Jason "Jake" McCandless said, "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."

About the honorees

Williamstown Community Preschool Executive Director Lisa Corkins has worked at Williamstown Community Preschool since 2010, where she started as a teacher before becoming an educational coordinator, and then executive director this past fall. She previously worked as a child care provider for the child care program at the former C.T. Plunkett Elementary School and has served the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee in Williamstown as a representative of young families and school-age children. She holds her bachelor of arts degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Mark Robertson, president of the WCP board of directors and current WCP parent, described Corkins as "a model representative of the next generation of Berkshire early education leaders" who "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."

Lee Elementary's Michele 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 serves on the board of the Lee Youth Association and coaches soccer and basketball. She holds a bachelor of science degree in elementary education from Springfield College, a master of education degree from American International College and a Certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies in Educational Leadership from Cambridge College.

Lee Public Schools Superintendent Howard "Jake" Eberwein said, "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 has taught mathematics at Monument Monument since 1997. She previously taught math at both Concord Carlisle High School and Newton North High School. She serves on numerous committees and collaborative projects, including co-curricular projects and mentoring of new teachers. She holds a bachelor of science degree in engineering from Cornell University and master of education from UMass-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."