The School District
The Southern Berkshire Regional School District was founded in 1953, when five rural towns came together ito form a unified school system that would be large enough to provide all of their young people the advantages of a comprehensive school program in a more efficient manner. It was the first regional consolidation effort in Massachusetts to include the full kindergarten through grade 12 spectrum.
The five towns involved in the regional agreement are the same five towns: Alford (population 418), Egremont (population 1,070), Monterey (population 917), Sheffield (population 3,386), and New Marlborough (population 1,107). Each of the Southern Berkshire towns had public school facilities for certain grade levels at the time of the regionalization effort, and today, 48 years later, the District still maintains programs in each of the towns, with the exception of Alford. (The citizens of Alford voted to close their one-room school house in 1993.)
The Southern Berkshire District communities represent quite diverse socioeconomic conditions. At one time agriculture was the dominant economic activity, but today tourism and commerce, sparked by vacationers and second-home owners as well as people drawn to the area for shorter stays, are much more important aspects of the economic foundation of the school district towns.
A considerable percentage of District residents commute to commercial, service, and industrial positions in the economic market centers to the north and west of the District.
District residents have been very supportive of the regional school initiative throughout the history of the agreement. The school programs have been generously supported at a local level considerably in advance of the standards mandated by the state for the five towns. The Southern Berkshire Regional School District participates in the Massachusetts School Choice Program. Approximately 15% of students come from outside the district towns. The school system enjoys the benefit of a state-of-the-art school plant, erected in 1992, that includes Undermountain Elementary and Mt. Everett Regional Schools. The citizens of the Southern Berkshire towns put a premium on the quality of the educational experiences offered to the next generation of community leaders.
The Elementary School
In the elementary school our aim is to provide an environment that recognizes the uniqueness of each child, stimulates the fullest development of a child's potential, and encourages pride in achievement. Students are helped to acquire the skills needed to become purposeful and effective members of society and to understand the scope of their responsibilities.
Meeting the academic, social, and emotional needs of our elementary school students is our first and foremost goal. Academically, the curriculum of the elementary school is based on both the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks and on national standards in the arts, English, history and social studies, health, mathematics, science, and technology. Art, music, and physical education are a part of each student's schedule, and formal technology education begins in grade five.
Throughout the school year, special opportunities available to students include the following: dance, theatre, the Young American Playwright's Program (YAPP), pottery, and afterschool sports, including wrestling, baseball, softball, and soccer.
The Middle School
The curriculum in the middle school is designed to prepare students intellectually, physically, socially, and emotionally for their differing futures. Each student is capable of learning and should be held to high expectations and be actively involved in acquiring and and applying skills, knowledge, and positive attitudes. Teaching in the middle school is based on the belief that all areas of the curriculum need to be meaningful and challenging to each student, a belief that requires integrating the curriculum and avoiding the artificial separation of subject areas. The teachers use teaming and inter-disciplinary themes to provide opportunities for students to develop communication skills, to work cooperatively with others, to apply problem-solving and decision-making skills, and to facilitate learning.
The middle school assesses student learning and success in relationship to individual potential. Diverse instructional strategies emphasizing active learning demand new ways of assess student learning. Heterogeneous class grouping is the basis for determining instructional units, but the differing skills and interests of students often lead to regrouping in accordance with ability in academic classes. The middle school's daily schedule includes 55 minutes of class time in each of the following: English, science, social studies, and mathematics. Students electing foreign language study in their middle school years may take either French or Spanish with classes in these subjects offered on a daily basis. Physical education, art, technology, health, and study skills are offered in seven-week units throughout the year. The middle school provides an organized, safe, and responsible haven for adolescents to flourish socially and academically.
The High School
Mt. Everett staff and students enjoy a most positive school culture based on a relaxed yet focused approach, high expectations, and a learning environment that is safe, welcoming, appreciative of diversity, and predicated on mutual respect. This culture is enhanced by the parents, community members and businesses in our five towns. In addition to financial support beyond state foundation requirements, businesses regularly open their doors to student interns and financially support activities such as youth sports, theater, and field trips. Parents volunteer their energy and talents both inside and outside of our classrooms. Community organizations support our students with academic programming, as well as well as after school and summer experiences. Our eagle fund supports students and staff in their support of unique and creative thinking. Numerous community-based scholarships support our students’ pursuit of post-secondary plans. The auditorium and athletic fields are well attended by parents and community members supporting and endorsing our children’s participation in the arts and sports.
Mt.Everett RegionalSchool is, above all else, a student-centered school. We make every effort to ensure that students are fully challenged academically in a supportive and nurturing environment. We offer a comprehensive program, unique among most schools our size, tailored to meet the diverse talents and interests of the students growing up n our community. Our academic program is aligned with the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks in thoughtful and creative ways. Social studies classes study economics through networking with our business partner, Sheffield Plastics, and study democracy and human rights through our exchange program, KiDmocracy. Math classes explore algebra through art. English classes produce collections of their own poetry. Science classes study life science by raising and releasing salmon, in collaboration with our local fish hatchery. The paintings, sculpture, and performances by students in our art department are regularly celebrated in our community. Our world language students have opportunities for international travel and help their teachers organize a multi-cultural fair for all the students in the district. Students in our carpentry program constructed a goat barn on campus for our Future Farmers of America program, a storage building in the SheffieldTownPark for use by the Sheffield Police Department and Kiwanis Club, and have even built first-rate dugouts for our baseball team. Our culinary arts program has provided food for events, both inside and outside our school, including a wedding and the annual holiday luncheon honoring local senior citizens and volunteers in our community. Our technology classes maintain our local area network through our students as technology leaders program. Opportunities such as advanced placement, virtual high school, and dual high school-college enrollment through Berkshire Community College are available to our students. Comprehensive special education services that include autism and life skills programs are also available to our children with special needs. Each year nearly half of our senior class participates in various internships reflecting the diverse interests of our students and many opportunities available in our community.
Life After High School
A graduation ceremony is held in June of each year on the grounds of Tanglewood. The plans of Mount Everett graduates reflect the full spectrum of interests and talents included in the student population. The school district believes strongly in the importance of post secondary training and provides comprehensive college guidance help. Students are acccepted to and attend many different colleges, universities and technical schools across the United States.
Learning is the key to a full and productive life. Ideally our efforts will foster a life-long learning. We welcome, honor, and enjoy the uniqueness of each person who chooses to come to our school. We accept and celebrate differences in people and strive for a school environment in which students, parents, staff, and other community citizens are active partners in educational excellence. We are committed to challenging each and every student and to providing many ways for children to acquire knowledge and to express what they are learning. To achieve this goal, the teachers use a variety of organizational strategies and instructional techniques in an effort to ensure that the academic experiences of each student are as rich and stimulating as possible.
In the elementary classrooms, students capable of moving through the academic curriculum in particular areas in more rapid fashion than their classmates are presented more advanced material that helps keep their intellectual engagement level high. In the middle grades, the honors program begins to take form within the context of class groupings that remain heterogeneous. In the seventh and eights grades, students are regrouped, as appropriate, to allow for more accelerated curriculum options for those demonstrating the aptitude for such. During the high school years most course offerings incorporate honors sections that require students to stretch to meet certain academic achievement standards.
The superintendent heads an administrative team that includes the business administrator, PreK-6 elementary principal, grades 7-12 principal, director of student services, curriculum and professional development coordinator, technology director, elementary assistant principal, plant director, food services director, and curriculum leaders who combine their teaching obligations with departmental management responsibilities.
The Southern Berkshire Regional School Committee is made up of ten members who are elected in the biennial state elections. Four members are elected from Sheffield, two members each are elected from the towns of New Marlborough and Egremont, and one member is elected from each of the towns of Monterey and Alford. The elections are district-wide, but residency requirements must be met. The committee provides oversight of all school functions, with the budget being of primary concern. All school committee meetings and those of its respective sub-committees are open to the public. The committee employs a superintendent to manage the school district and also a business administrator and part-time treasurer to oversee the annual budget in excess of $13 million.
Faculty & Staff
The full-time teaching staff in the Southern Berkshire Regional School District totals 82. The staff includes a blend of experienced teachers and newcomers. The average tenure among present faculty members in the district is 14 years. Salary rates are comparable with other districts in the region, and ongoing professional development is a priority which is supported by the School Committee and the Administration.
The work of the classroom teachers is fully supported by a dedicated staff of employees who maintain the buildings and the grounds, manage the business affairs of the district, and assist and support teachers with the school program.
Southern Berkshire is a small district with a big heart. Students tend to be fully engaged in the life of the schools, and the atmosphere is welcoming. The programs outside of the academic day that draw student energies and devotion include considerable diversity, assuring the probability that there is a key role in the school community for every student.