Letter: Karis right about BCC excellence

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To the editor:

Prior to joining their faculty last year as an adjunct, I'd had only glancing contact with Berkshire Community College, and while each interaction had been positive, my overall attitude toward a community college education remained, I confess, mildly dismissive. Unlike T.J. Karis, who knew firsthand how valuable such an experience can be (Eagle, "A mountain of debt? The difference a community college can make," July 26), I had apparently absorbed some unexamined and elitist prejudice.

How wrong I had it. Berkshire Community College is a remarkable institution delivering substantive, meaningful education. I've been so impressed with the faculty, support services and students. The mood is industrious and positive, and the learning wide-ranging and deep.

Part of the reason this happens is that it's not just the students who are provided with the opportunity to grow and learn. BCC has offered me a number of excellent professional development workshops this past year, and there's something called the Center for Teaching and Learning Innovation where I'm encouraged to ask for help with anything from learning a new online tool to brainstorming a pedagogical solution.

Now this summer, in response to COVID-19-related shifts in education, the talented CTLI team has put together an extraordinary online workshop devised to help faculty redesign their classes for an online or hybrid environment. The result will be courses that are purposefully structured with the students in mind to make the most of the delivery method, rather than being pale imitations of their face-to-face versions. My understanding is that 98 percent of full-time faculty as well as a large number of adjuncts are taking advantage of this support. I'm one of them, and I can tell you the workshop is itself a model of great online education. It's inspiring.

Berkshire Community College is making sure that it will be a better choice than ever for a fine education this fall. Karis is right about needing to end the stigma, as it's utterly unwarranted. We have a jewel here in Pittsfield — ready, willing, accessible and staffed by first-rate educators committed to continuing excellence.

Lisken Van Pelt Dus,

Pittsfield

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