Miss Hall's readies 1st Berkshire School Fair

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PITTSFIELD Miss Hall's School has hosted independent school fairs before. But for this year's event, the school tweaked the format to provide information on educational programs that everyone can use.

The result: The first Berkshire County School Fair on Sept. 24, which will include representatives of independent schools from three states, a smattering of local Catholic schools, the county's lone charter school and six of the Berkshires' public school districts. The event will take place from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Centennial Room at Miss Hall's. There is no registration fee.

"This is the first time that we've had anything in Berkshire County where all the schools have been invited to be given the opportunity to showcase all of their programs together," said Meagan Ireland, the associate director of admissions at Miss Hall's. "It's like a one-stop shop for parents looking for public, charter, independent or Catholic school options."

Having so many types of schools in one place at the same time also will allow parents to see firsthand the number of educational options in the Berkshires that are available to them, like teaching methods, or after-school and summer programming.

"Each [school] will be doing programs that they want to highlight," Ireland said.

"It seems like we're not following a traditional education model anymore, like if you live in this town, this is the school that you have to go to," she said. "You actually have an option. And there are so many options in the Berkshires. I think parents aren't even aware of the number of options that are available to them. This is going to be that opportunity where they can really see that.

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"Public school with school choice is an option, and charter school is an option. Then you have a ton of private schools with scholarship options so they are accessible to all students in Berkshire County."

The format will be similar to a job fair: Each educational entity at the school fair will have a table set up in the Centennial Room where representatives can provide information on their programs for parents and students.

"There's going to be students from different schools representing their schools, different teachers and representatives," Ireland said. "We've asked them each to come prepared to tell what is it that makes your school an exciting option."

The Pittsfield public schools, the Berkshire's largest public school district, were a last minute addition to the roster of participants. The district had originally expressed interest in the event, but had trouble fitting the event into its schedule according to Superintendent of Schools Jason McCandless, before reversing its position on Thursday. Another last minute addition was the Marvelwood School, an independent school in Kent, Conn.

The Southern Berkshire Regional School District, Mount Greylock Regional School District and Adams-Cheshire Regional School District will not be participating. All of the county's public school districts were invited to attend, but some could not fit the date of the fair into their schedules, Ireland said.

For more information on the fair, contact Ireland at 413-395-7041 or mireland@misshalls.org., or go to misshalls.org/berkshire-county-school-fair.

Tony Dobrowolski can be reached at tdobrowolski@berkshireeagle.com or 413-496-6224.


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