A self-described builder by nature, MCLA's new Dean of Graduate and Continuing Education Howard "Jake" Eberwein III, Ed.D., hit the ground running this fall as he began to create new programs and work on more ways for the College to better meet the changing needs of Berkshire County's adult learners.
A 2003 graduate of MCLA's Master's of Education program, Eberwein also earned his principal certification as a graduate of the College's Leadership Academy of the Berkshires in 2002. As a result, he is well familiar with the campus and what it's like to go back to school to complete a degree.
"It's so easy to speak about it from firsthand experience and to talk about how to finance it while you're a teacher, because I did it when I was a teacher, and managed it while I had kids," he explained. "It's good to have those experiences to relate to adult learners who are entering these programs on a pathway that is very similar to the one I took."
Eberwein spent 18 years as an educator and an administrator in the County's public schools, and most recently was the superintendent of Pittsfield Public Schools, since 2008.
Upon his graduation from MCLA nine years ago, Eberwein may not have set his sights on becoming a college dean, but he finds that the position is a natural progression of his career on a number of levels.
"You have the ability to influence change at the classroom level, and at the school level and the district level," he said. "Now I really have an opportunity to influence change in preparing teachers and school leaders, which now has an even broader reach. This idea of creating high-quality and progressive teacher and leadership education programs is incredibly exciting."
More new programs likely are on the horizon, as Eberwein explores ideas for additional ways to serve the region. In addition to its Master's of Education degree program, MCLA offers a Professional Master's of Business Administration (PMBA) degree.
"Right now, we're looking at the possibility of doing some sort of advanced degree in arts management or a related arts field," Eberwein said. "We're looking carefully at the resources that we have in Berkshire County, and how to leverage those resources for graduate education."
Beyond its master's programs, MCLA offers a FAST-TRACK 2+2 degree completion program, so students might finish their bachelor's degree, as well as a 2+2 program for early childhood educators, so that preschool teachers and day care providers can complete their bachelor's degrees to satisfy a new quality improvement rating system.
"It's responding to a need in the County in building programs that maintain the integrity and the mission of the College, while also providing a service to the County," Eberwein said.
Other programs in the works include a paramedic training program. Although such training already is offered nearby, the organization that provides it wants to be affiliated with MCLA.
Boiler maintenance training also is available at MCLA, so that area plumbers might meet certification requirements. "That's an example of a stand-alone class that we continue to offer as a service for the County," Eberwein explained.
In addition, he's in the process of building a new leadership program that reflects the new expectations and standards for what school leaders need to know for 21st century schools. He also works to connect with local school superintendents to see they have the resources they need with regard to some recent state initiatives, including a new evaluation process as Massachusetts retools how teachers and school leaders are evaluated.
As Eberwein learns and grows into his new position, "I'm really impressed with the College faculty and the students I've met. I'm amazed with how passionate and committed everyone I've met at MCLA is to the work of the College. They take great pride in the College. It's been striking."