Baker-Polito administration honors 2 Berkshire schools


Two Berkshire County schools held the spotlight for special recognition at a Boston ceremony last week attended by top state officials and local educators.

Lenox Memorial Middle and High School and Muddy Brook Elementary in Great Barrington, part of the Berkshire Hills Regional School District, were cited among 57 Massachusetts Schools of Recognition by the Baker-Polito administration.

The award was based on high achievement, narrowing achievement gaps between groups of students or making strong progress.

"The remarkable teachers and students in these schools should be proud of what they have accomplished," Gov. Charlie Baker said in a release. "Improvement, high achievement, and — especially — narrowing gaps are all critical to students' success and to our Commonwealth's future."

Lenox was honored based on high achievement on the 2018 math, English language arts and science MCAS scores, Principal Mike Knybel told The Eagle.

Representing the school's faculty at the Statehouse ceremony were math department chairman David Pugh and special education teacher Anne Engelberger, retiring this month after 32 years at the school. The assembled educators at the Beacon Hill event gave her a standing ovation for her service.

"I am honored to receive this recognition and I view the high achievement as an indicator that we are providing a comprehensive, inclusive education to all students," Knybel said in an email to The Eagle. "LMMHS has worked to add additional support to all students in a multi-tiered support structure in order to increase all student outcomes."

According to the recently released annual U.S. News ranking of best high schools for 2019, Lenox comes in at 32nd out of 510 Massachusetts schools ranked — highest in Berkshire County, followed by BART Charter Public School in Adams (79th) and Mount Greylock Regional School in Williamstown (80th).

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Lenox placed 777th out of 17,245 high schools surveyed by U.S. News nationwide, with a 97 percent graduation rate, 55 percent of students passing at least one Advanced Placement course and a student-faculty ratio of 9 to 1.

Education Secretary James Peyser praised all 57 schools as "continually looking for better ways to support their students," he said in a the release. "That dedication will pay dividends both for their students as individuals and for our Commonwealth as a whole."

Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Jeffrey Riley, noting that he visited schools statewide during the year, told the educators at the ceremony that "I am not surprised to see so many strong schools honored today from different areas of the state. I appreciate the work that went into these achievements, and I am grateful to everyone in the school communities who were part of those efforts."

Under the state Department of Education's accountability system, the commissioner commended 52 Schools of Recognition.

In addition, three schools — Abington High School, Swampscott High School and Minuteman Regional Vocational Technical School in Lexington — were cited as 2018 National Blue Ribbon Schools by the U.S. Department of Education, based on nominations by the state.

Alice B. Beal Elementary in Springfield and Bristol-Plymouth Regional Technical in Taunton were the two schools named as National Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Distinguished Schools. Each year, the ESEA Network (formerly the National Title I Association) asks states to nominate two schools where students perform at very high levels for at least two consecutive years, where the school has made significant progress in closing achievement gaps or where the school has demonstrated excellence in serving special populations of students.

The network defines its mission as "dedicated to building the capacity of education professionals to provide disadvantaged children with a high quality education."

Clarence Fanto can be reached at, on Twitter @BE_cfanto or at 413-637-2551.


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