MCLA Announces Recipients of Second Annual Berkshire County Educator Recognition Awards


NORTH ADAMS, MA - Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) has announced the recipients of the Second Annual Berkshire County Educator Recognition Award. The award, given by MCLA in collaboration with Berkshire County K-12 superintendents, was created last year to honor the region's exceptional teachers.

This year's recipients will be recognized on Thursday, April 26, at 6 p.m. in Murdock Hall room 218, on the MCLA campus. The event is free and open to the public.

The recipients are Jessica S. Bazinet '05, a first grade teacher at Allendale School in Pittsfield; Catherine Marquet Elliott, who teaches French and Spanish at Monument Valley Regional Middle School in Great Barrington; and Teresa Kardasen, a developmental specialist at the Pediatric Development Center in Pittsfield.

"The critical work that educators do is crucial in ensuring that today's young people grow up to be the strength of our society. It is so important to be able to recognize the work of teachers as accomplished and creative as this year's honorees are," said Cynthia Brown, vice president of Academic Affairs at MCLA.

Bazinet has worked for seven years in the Pittsfield Public Schools. Her principal, Carl Ameen, praised Bazinet as going "above and beyond" in her teaching and work with children. He said that no letter or compliment could possibly come close to seeing Bazinet at work in her classroom.

District Reading Coordinator Kathleen Latham said she is "truly gifted" and her instruction is highly efficient and effective. Donna Leep, the principal of Bazinet's former school, called Bazinet a leader and collaborator who created a community that brought students, teachers, and parents together to build a positive learning environment. 

Bazinet holds both B.A. and B.S. degrees from MCLA and a master's degree from Simmons College.

Elliott has taught French and Spanish for more than 23 years in both the Berkshire Hills and Southern Berkshire Regional school districts. Mary Berle, director of teaching and learning for the Berkshire Hills Regional School District, said Elliot has taught hundreds of students to speak new languages, increased their cultural awareness and make contributions to their communities.

Berle called Elliott's classroom "a door to a global and caring community," and noted that Elliott supports student discourses, reaches all students and exercises leadership. Within the district, Elliott has worked to redesign the mentoring program for new teachers and helped engage in conversations about strengthening 7-12 language programs. Her principal, Ben Doren, praises her as a "shining light" in their school.

Elliott holds a B.A. in linguistics from Yale University and an master's degree from the School for International Training in Brattleboro, Vt.

Kardasen  has been at the Pediatric Development Center for more than 22 years. Prior to that, she taught as an early childhood special needs preschool teacher and as a preschool screening evaluator in the Central Berkshire Regional School District.

Maureen Atwood, executive director of the Pediatric Development Center, praised Kardasen's roles in working with families as they first encounter and need services from the Center, and for her coordination of the Center's "Play and Learn" program.

Atwood called Kardasen's service "exemplary," and the Center's Patricia Pellegrino said she is a "natural teacher" who shares her knowledge with others and creates natural learning environments for young children.

Kardasen holds a B.S. in education from Westfield State University and a master's degree from the UMass-Amherst.

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