Berkshire Community College Community Partner Profile: Pittsfield Public Schools and the Berkshire Immigrant Center

Pittsfield Public Schools

History of the Partnership with BCC

BCC’s Service-Learning program was established in 1998. Faculty and students have volunteered with the Pittsfield Public Schools on and off throughout the years. Our partnership with the Pittsfield Public Schools was formalized around Fall 2008. By Spring 2009 the goal was clear to keep the partnership strong and increase tutoring in the schools to help students with academic improvement; especially those from low-income families. One school, Crosby Elementary School, in particular has been a very strong partner and popular site where students like to volunteer because of the opportunities available, proximity to the school and supportive environment.

What I Do as a VISTA

My role in helping with this partnership is to recruit students to join Service-Learning as tutors in the Pittsfield Public Schools. I organize and present a Tutor Training for all of the Service-Learning students that will be working with this vulnerable population each semester. The training aims to teach BCC students the ways in which schools have changed and what to generally be aware of as well as effective teaching strategies, and ways to deal with different behaviors. I then coordinate placements at our Service-Learning school sites. Service-Learning students tutor in specific areas like Math, English, or even Behavioral classes. I observe each student in the classroom at least once to check on their status and how things are going, as well as check with the site teachers and supervisor to make sure they are committing to that site. I have also implemented a mid-semester luncheon to discuss their projects and see what they have learned or liked the most and what have been challenges. The goal is to engage students in reflection and collect feedback. Students were asked if they would like to see anything different from the program, tutor training, or the site. I have also given surveys to teachers in the schools to collect data on the relationship of academic improvement and educational opportunity from having a BCC student helping in their class. These same teachers will also fill out a performance evaluation for every student tutor they supervised this semester.

I have also helped to grow the Crosby Elementary Afterschool Robotics Program that has been around for a few years now. Since Fall 2012 it has evolved into an Engineering-Microbiology Robotics program. The students in these courses have come together to meet and create the weekly sessions about LEGO Robotics and Microbiology over the ten session program. We have even been able to bring the elementary school students to the BCC campus to teach some sessions and show them the college. In the spring semester I go every week to help document this program through pictures and video of the program in action. I also observe and check in on how the students are doing with this project.

To Learn More about Pittsfield Public Schools: http://www.pittsfield.net/

 

Berkshire Immigrant Center

History of the Partnership with BCC

BCC Service-Learning students have been leveraged to help the Berkshire Immigrant Center with the annual Berkshire Immigrant’s Day for the last two years, and non-service-learning students volunteer to help the center or fill work-study positions in the office. Some BIC clients have attended BCC as students now and in the past.

What I Do as a VISTA

My role at BIC is to help create a better way to outreach and get information to the community about BIC and the immigrant population that is here and to create new ways or strategies in measuring the economic and educational impact of the BIC services. The video I am creating will be used in future diversity trainings to prepare Service-Learning students to work with BIC and the English Language Learners Program at the Pittsfield Public Schools that we are still working on implementing. This video will also help BIC present their information and message more efficiently to social service providers that have requested more knowledge about the immigrant population in the Berkshires and how they can help improve services. I am also creating a new service-learning project for future students at BCC. It is a survey to help the BIC gather information on Citizenship status. This information will help show more accurately the numbers of clients that have gotten their citizenship, registered to vote, and how many used the educational opportunities offered by the BIC to pass the test.

To Learn More about the Berkshire Immigrant Center: http://berkshireic.com/ or http://www.facebook.com/pages/Berkshire-Immigrant-Center/117485164942016

 

Amanda Schuler

MACC AmeriCorps*VISTA

Berkshire Community College

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