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BCC Launches New Education Department

PITTSFIELD — Berkshire Community College has launched a new education department, combining and expanding the early childhood education and elementary education programming into one unified field of study.

Patricia Kay, the associate professor and chair of the Education Department, designed the new department. She worked closely with community partners, coalition groups, and Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) to ensure the new department fit the needs of childcare providers here in the Berkshires.

“We went out to the community,” Kay said, “and we asked them if the cohort program at BCC would work for the childcare professionals, and overwhelmingly we heard ‘yes, that it would.’”

The new education department will introduce learning as a cohort model — meaning that students will all go through the same classes together as a group. The model is a hybrid, meaning it has an online and face-to-face component.

The college also recently hired Barbara Kotelnicki as an assistant professor of Education, to support this new department. “I’m very excited to be joining BCC’s education department and collaborating with Patty Kay as we work to meet the needs of today’s aspiring teachers,” Kotelnicki said. “I look forward to helping expand the department by exploring and developing new courses and engaging opportunities for our students.”

The students will be made up of working childcare providers who will be able to discover real-world solutions to problems they are having in their classrooms and learn more than just the theory of early childhood education. They will gain experience through best practices, field work, and learning the essentials in teaching and care-giving.

“A cohort program provides strong and consistent support for adult learners who often have significant responsibilities outside of their college commitments,” said Cynthia Brown, vice president of Academic Affairs at MCLA. “We look forward to planning more new initiatives with the education department at BCC.”

The work that ended in MCLA and BCC signing an Articulation agreement in July is what precipitated the creation of the Early Childhood cohort program. Students who graduate from BCC with an Associate in Science degree will be eligible to continue their studies in a Bachelor of Arts program or Early Childhood Education licensure pathway through MCLA.

“MCLA is pleased to support and partner with BCC in advancing high quality, accessible educational programming for early educators,” Jake Eberwein, dean of the Division of Graduate and Continuing Education from MCLA said. “Both BCC and MCLA remain fully committed to the field of early education, to our youngest residents, in supporting these dedicated professionals who create the conditions and experiences that set our children on positive trajectories.”

For more information, contact Kay at [email protected] or call (413) 236-4626.

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