BCC Volunteers for Read Across America Day!

On Monday, March 3rd, three BCC representatives volunteered to read to students at Stearns Elementary School in Pittsfield as part of the 17th annual Read Across America Day. Celebrated on Dr. Seuss’s Birthday, Read Across America Day is a nationwide reading event sponsored by the National Education Association that connects community members with schools to share the joy of reading with young students.

All students at Stearns took a “reading pledge” committing to read every day to learn new things and build healthy brains. We loved seeing Principal Dean and teachers wearing Seuss’s signature hat — from the “Cat in the Hat.” Some students even made their own red and white striped hats! See if you can find them below.

tomreading

BCC Dean of Humanities and Stearns School Committee Member, Tom Curley, reading at Read Across America Day.

Amandareading

Amanda Schuler, MACC AmeriCorps*VISTA, reading “Inside Your Outside” by Dr. Seuss to a class at Stearns Elementary School.

Mary Parkman, Service-Learning Coordinator, reading "The Lorax" by Dr. Seuss to a 4th grade class.

Mary Parkman, Service-Learning Coordinator, reading “The Lorax” by Dr. Seuss to a 4th grade class.

 

Community a part of the curriculum at Berkshire Community College

From “Making the Grade 2014: Working together for the future” featured in The Berkshire Eagle

By John Sakata, Berkshire Eagle Staff

Posted:   02/27/2014

PITTSFIELD — It didn’t take long for Erin Breen to land a job in which she could give back to her community.

Thanks to Berkshire Community College’s Service Learning program, the 23-year-old Adams resident was helping Berkshire United Way increase literacy among elementary school children before she’s even received her associate degree this fall.

Breen volunteered at the Berkshire United Way in the fall of 2012, landed an internship, and turned that volunteer work into a full-time job as a resource development assistant.

“I really enjoy going into the community and working and putting my knowledge to use,” Breen said.

BCC and other colleges aren’t wishfully hoping students give back to their communities — rather they’re incorporating community service in the educational curriculum.

At Berkshire Community College, pending faculty approval, the students can substitute coursework with community service through the college’s Service Learning program. There have been as many as 100 students who have taken up the option, according to BCC’s Service Learning Coordinator Mary Parkman.

They can receive a grade on their work, which can range from 10 percent to 25 percent of their grade, she said.

Students majoring in business communication have created PowerPoint presentations for nonprofits, while engineering students have taught elementary students to build and control robots.

First-year students at Bard College at Simon’s Rock in Great Barrington, the early liberal arts college that accepts students in the 10th and 11th grades, has students participate in a program that emphasizes community service.

Through the Active Community Engagement program, the college’s 160 students are required to choose one of three classes, including a class centered around participation and service. Bard College students have volunteered at the Medical Reserve Corps, Special Olympics, and campus and community cleanups.

“It’s an important shift that’s happening in the state and BCC and we are focusing our service on civic engagement and developing projects that are focused on civic engagement,” Parkman said.

http://www.berkshireeagle.com/learning/ci_25237268/community-part-curriculum-at-berkshire-community-college

Service-Learning Orientation Dates – Spring 2014

For students to sign up for a community service project in their Service-Learning course.

  • Thursday, 1/30  (12:15-1:15 PM)

  • Wed, 2/5 (11-12 PM) Snow day

  • Thursday 2/6 (12:15-1:15 PM)

  • Monday, 2/10 (4:15-5:15 PM)

  • Wednesday, 2/12 (11am-12pm)

Location:

BCC, Field Administration Building

2nd floor, Room 202 (computer lab)

 

*Please bring a government issued photo ID. (For CORI check)

For more information and available opportunities, stop by the Service-Learning Office – Hawthorne Hall, room 215 or call Mary Parkman, Service-Learning Coordinator (Ext. 2176)

50 Year Anniversary of AmeriCorps*VISTA

A big thank you to Amanda Schuler, BCC’s MACC AmeriCorps*VISTA, for her year and a half of community service to Berkshire Community College and the greater Pittsfield community. Amanda leverages college and community resources to increase educational opportunities, academic achievement and awareness of higher education in Pittsfield.

AmeriCorps VISTA

Continuing to Fight the War on Poverty

Fifty years ago today, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared war on what would turn out to be one of our nation’s most formidable opponents—poverty

“The richest nation on earth can afford to win it,” Johnson told Congress as he proposed a series of initiatives to assist in the cause. VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) was among these ground-breaking programs.

A half-century later, our mission remains unchanged. Thousands of AmeriCorps VISTA members are working with communities every day to create economic opportunities that help individuals overcome poverty.

To see how it all began, please watch the video below:

BCC Service-Learning Receives Positive Recognition

 

The Service-Learning office had received an email from the Massachusetts Campus Compact AmeriCorps program, reaching out to their fellow college partners around the state, to find out what evaluation and assessment tools they were using to create a successful program.  They chose ten of the twenty-five colleges they are partnered with to interview, and BCC was one that stood out to them as having a valuable and successful impact on their campus.

On Wednesday December 4th, MACC travelled out from Boston to interview us on the evaluation and assessment tools we use to collect, track, and get results from our students, faculty, and community partners on community impact, and the work the VISTA contributes to.

We walked them through our recruitment and new paperless online sign up process, our presentation to each service-learning class, our database system created prior to VISTA, and the Service-Learning blog containing information on projects, classes, and updates.

We then discussed our pre-service student trainings designed by the VISTA in collaboration with our community partners specifically for students who tutor in the public schools or interview community assets for Pittsfield Promise. The VISTA also created post-training surveys to collect feedback to further improve the training experience.

When looking into the community impact being made and how BCC Service-Learning assesses that impact, it is through different assessment tools created by the Service-Learning Coordinator and the VISTA. Evaluations created by the first VISTA and a Service-Learning faculty member laid the foundation for finding out how BCC tutors impacted academic improvement and knowledge of educational resources for students in the Pittsfield Public Schools. This tool was revised and edited by the present VISTA and school partners to align with common public school language to therefore improve the quality and reliability of data collected.

Another tool used to measure community impact is through the Pittsfield Promise project. The VISTA tracks the number of interviews recorded in the Berkshire United Way database by BCC students. Out of the data collected, the VISTA created a categorized resource list to map the assets collected. The VISTA also tracks the number of participants at Pittsfield Promise community literacy events.

Other forms of evaluations that are done are end of the semester surveys to get feedback from the perspective of the students, faculty, and community site supervisors that evaluate the BCC student that volunteered with them.  The Service-Learning office also tracks the number of hours through paper log sheets and a new online submission tool. The VISTA also makes site visits to Service-Learning students working with her main partners:  Pittsfield Public Schools and Pittsfield Promise.

After sharing with MACC all that the BCC Service-Learning office uses when assessing the Service-Learning program, they were so pleased with all that we had to share with them, not only our materials, but our results. By sitting down and discussing all that we do in the Service-Learning office, it opened our minds to all the positive impact and success that has happened over the past few years. It was rewarding to be seen as a resource for the MACC office and the other campuses that are part of the Campus Compact. It was also great to be able to receive feedback from MACC on ways that we could improve on our program and our data collection. When saying that this interview was a success, it really was, in how much we were able to help out our MACC partners and it let us stop and reflect on the work we have been doing to remind us that we really are doing great work.

The VISTA at Work

We welcome back Amanda Schuler for her second year with BCC as the Massachusetts Campus Compact AmeriCorps *VISTA. Over the past few months Amanda has been working hard in the Service-Learning office with the Berkshire United Way and in the Pittsfield Public Schools to strengthen these community partnerships, expand on projects she began last year, and encourage and support students who are participating in Service-Learning through their classes.

Building on her work with the Pittsfield Public Schools and Crosby Elementary in particular, Amanda collaborated with stakeholders to revise BCC’s Tutor Training to better prepare students tutoring in the schools. At the start of the semester, the fate of The Crosby Afterschool Robotics program was uncertain. Crosby did not receive the expected grant funds to support it this year.  After a three year partnership, we were committed to continuing this program. Amanda, Mary Parkman, John Tatro, and BCC student Nick Kuni all met with the Crosby School Coordinator to strategize how to continue the program. Crosby was able to advocate for funding and the program started on October 23.  Amanda recruited a student leader to mentor the three new SL students allowing her to step back and let the students take the lead. Another great accomplishment from last year to this year is that Amanda achieved her goal of successfully expanding our tutoring and mentoring program to Williams Elementary this semester. Two students are serving as tutors and mentors in Math and Afterschool Homework help there.

Amanda also built on her work from last year helping The Berkshire Immigrant Center. She set up a new Service-Learning project for Spanish students to practice language skills by implementing the survey she created to help track clients’ citizenship status. Another great accomplishment is The Berkshire Immigrant Center video Amanda had created that is being used to outreach and teach the community about this population ended up winning her an award through Pittsfield Community Television.

This year Amanda has been partnering and working with the Berkshire United Way on the early childhood literacy initiative called Pittsfield Promise. She has helped recruit and train students to interview organizations using the Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) Strategy. She also has attended Third Thursdays and Pajama Night at the Berkshire Museum to conduct outreach for the initiative, Parent Power events to talk with parents from the community about literacy and issues, and steps towards solutions to positively impact our community.

Honoring Veterans Day

Thank you to all who serve!

Photo: Obama greets oldest living WWII Veteran at the White House

You can stay up to date on all the issues that matter to you by joining The White House Blog at http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog

Volunteer for National Public Lands Day!

Volunteer for National Public Lands Day
with Berkshire Natural Resources Council
in partnership with BCC Green Team
*Reserve your spot by Wed 25.
Trail work day at our Mahanna Cobble Reserve
144 West Mountain Road, Lenox
Saturday, Sept. 28th
10 AM- 2 PM
 
Volunteers must bring:
Water & food
Wear long pants and sturdy shoes
 
No tools are required; we have everything necessary, including work gloves. 
The work will be cutting brush with hand tools and a little bit of trail repair with hand tools.  Project is rated as strenuous due to the terrain; the work itself is light. 
Directions and Parking:
 
Our parking is limited; carpooling is appreciated.  West Mountain Road is on the right just south of Arizona Pizza on Route 7.  144 West Mountain is about 0.7 miles from Route 7.  Parking is on the shoulder of the driveway near a gate across a side road.
 
We’ll shuttle tools up the hill by truck; volunteers will walk in about 0.75 miles to the project site.  Work will be on a 1.5-mile loop.  Adding up the walk in and out and the work loop, total distance will be about 3 miles.  The pace will be slow but the terrain is very steep; footing can be slippery. 
 
Email mparkman@berkshirecc.edu to reserve your spot by Sept. 25th.

Service-Learning Orientation Dates

Sign up for Service-Learning at one of our four orientations in Field Building, room F202:

(Computer labs next to TRIO)

FALL 2013 DATES:

Thurs. Sept. 12th (12:15-1:15pm)

Wed., Sept. 18th (12:15-1:15pm)

Thurs. Sept. 26th (12:15-1:15pm

Mon. Sept. 23rd (4:15-5:15pm)

The Future of Civic Engagement in an Online World