State Rep. William 'Smitty' Pignatelli presents an award to Barbara Minkler at the third annual Berkshire County Educator Recognition Award ceremony. For more photos, see the slideshow.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts is making sure teachers are recognized for their efforts with the annual Berkshire County Educator Recognition Award.
President Mary Grant recalled the first award ceremony when Cynthia Roper-Patenaude was honored during her opening remarks.
"On the very first year we did this, it was so moving because the teacher who won the award that year got up... And she had the whole room rapt when she said very emotionally from the heart, 'This doesn't happen for teachers,'" Grant said at the third annual ceremony on Wednesday evening at MCLA's Church Street Center.
"And you could tell that everyone in the room thought this really should."
This year, Charles Bradshaw from Wahconah Regional High School in Dalton, Carol Ide of Undermountain Elementary School in Sheffield and Barbara Minkler of Muddy Brook Elementary School in Great Barrington received the awards, presented by 4th Berkshire district state Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli.
"I argue with people all the time about school teachers, but I argue for you. There's too many knuckleheads out there that think they only work on 180 days a year, work 9 to 3 every day, they get a weeks of vacation every six weeks," said Pignatelli, noting his familiarity because he grew up with educators and his sister teaches first grade. "I know about the nights and the weekends and the summers and the preparations and the money out of your own pocket because you go to the Staples or Walmart or something or somewhere local to buy supplies because of the budget cutbacks we've all experienced."
Bradshaw, who teaches Latin, currently has about a quarter of Wahconah High enrolled in his classes. In addition, he brought in the Senior Assembly Program, which is held a few days prior to graduation and honors the senior class before the entire community.
Pignatelli presents an award to Carol Ide.
Although grateful for the award, Bradshaw said the award is for the village, the Central Berkshire Regional School District and his "favorite building in that district, which is a blue and white building called Wahconah Regional High School."
"I have to say that when I started 47 years ago I used to leap out of bed in the morning to go to teach, and I tell the kids now they're the reason I can still get up," Bradshaw said. "Things feel a little different when you're 68.
Ide, a third-grade teacher at Undermountain and part of the Southern Berkshire Regional School District, grew up with a music background, even having a stint in Arlo Guthrie's band Shenandoah. Since then, she's been an educator for 26 years.
She mixes her love of music and teaching, and in her statement for the award said, "We rap the continents, we sing about habitats, I share the stage with my students when we dance geometric shapes and addition and subtraction problems."
Ide was inspired to teach by her mother and has no regrets.
"Most of all I wanted to say this job of teaching is a love and if you don't love it, you're not in the right job," Ide said. "I do love it and I do, like Charlie, get up every morning and really wanting to be there still."
Minkler, a 22-year veteran of the Berkshire Hills Regional School District, most recently was an academic intervention teacher at Muddy Brook. During her speech, she stressed the importance of her fellow staff and family for helping her achieve in her career.
"I was deeply humbled when I was nominated for this award, words cannot convey how deeply honored I am by being chosen," Minkler said. "Achieving this award in this time of my career is not a solo journey."
Currently, she's keeping up to date on subjects related to reading and teaching the English language.
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