First Graders Go to College for Read Across America Day

On March 2nd, 60 first graders from Greenfield’s Federal Street School will go to college, visiting Greenfield Community College’s Main Campus to celebrate the National Education Association’s Read Across America Day. Read Across America is an annual reading motivation and awareness program that calls for every child in every community to celebrate reading on March 2nd, the birthday of beloved children’s author Dr. Seuss. During their day “in college” at GCC’s celebration, the children will listen to President Bob Pura read Seuss’s book The Lorax, plant seeds in the College’s greenhouse, and work on painting projects and an essay activity focusing on “If I was the Lorax, this is how I would help our Earth….” Along with President Pura, GCC faculty, staff, and student volunteers will work with the children during the day.

The Read Across America Day celebration is just one of many collaborations between GCC and the Federal Street School. Melanie A. Zamojski, Faculty in GCC’s Associate Degree Nursing Program, explained, “GCC’s Associate Degree Nursing program has worked with the Federal Street School for several years. Service Learning is a required part of our nursing program to encourage civic and community engagement during our students’ time at GCC and after they graduate. Last year, we started bringing Federal St. School first graders ‘to college,’ providing ‘classes’ on healthy eating and habits. The GCC students learned how to manage and plan teaching activities for this age group. The first graders not only have had consistent contact with GCC students, they ask the nursing students about what it is like going to college and what kind of things are they learning.”

The success of the GCC/Federal St. School wellness project led to discussion between GCC and the school district about how to expand the partnership to include GCC students from other majors.

Greenfield Public Schools District Volunteer Coordinator Marianne Harcourt applauds the expanded partnership saying, “The partnership between GCC Nursing students and the Federal Street School is mutually beneficial. Nursing students have the opportunity to put into practice what they have learned and engage proactively with children and the children begin to understand the importance of healthy eating, exercise, and safety as they grow and develop. Last fall, a group of GCC Early Childhood students hosted the Federal Street first graders in two literacy-based projects. GCC and its students are a wonderful resource for our schools and students. We will continue to think about ways we can expand our partnership with GCC students in our schools.”

Mary McEntee, GCC’s Coordinator of Student Activities & Community Service, said “The partnership between the Greenfield Public Schools and GCC provides great opportunities for GCC students to be involved in community service learning projects. GCC students are taking the initiative to help design and lead these programs. Barbara Adams, a GCC Student Senate member and a parent, is the lead student volunteer working on the Read Across America program. GCC alumna and Massachusetts Campus Compact AmeriCorps VISTA Coordinator Kia Burton-McLaughlin is based in the Office of Student Activities & Community Service and works with Greenfield High School students helping them prepare for college.”

Along with community service projects with local schools, GCC students volunteer at the Stone Soup Café, participate in gleaning projects with local farms, and help build houses with Habitat for Humanity.

For information about community service learning at GCC, contact Mary McEntee at (413) 775-1200 or For information about NEA’s Read Across America, visit

By Mary McClintock, ’82

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GCC & Baystate Franklin Medical Center Partner to Create NEW Simulation Learning Lab

Opening in time for the spring semester, Greenfield Community College and Baystate Franklin Medical Center’s new Simulation Learning Lab will provide a state-of-the-art interactive learning environment for GCC students and BFMC health care staff. Partnering to create the new Lab, GCC provided the patient simulation manikin and computers that run it, while BFMC provided space in a building on the BFMC campus. The Lab is outfitted to look like a hospital patient room and is a dedicated space for simulation training for GCC nursing, paramedic, and EMT students and for patient care providers. Using the Simulation Learning Lab, GCC faculty and BFMC nurse educators will provide a practice environment for students and hospital staff to practice clinical, team work, and communication skills. A wide range of specific patient care scenarios can be programmed into the manikin to address different clinical lessons, such as an older patient with dementia and other health issues, labor and delivery, post-partum hemorrhaging, cardiac arrest, gastro-intestinal bleeding, and stroke. Simulations using this type of sophisticated equipment are increasingly a standard part of the curriculum for educating health care providers. Key components of simulation training include an opportunity for students to develop muscle memory and cognitive memory and get feedback on their skills through expert debriefing of the scenario.

The new Simulation Learning Lab represents an expansion of the long-time collaboration between the college and the hospital. The idea for the Lab started with a GCC Associate Degree Nursing Program Advisory Board meeting last summer when GCC faculty expressed frustration that they had the equipment for another simulation lab, but lacked the space for it. Kayte Bak MSN, RN, BFMC’s Nurse Practice Educator, heard the faculty’s concern and wondered whether BFMC could accommodate the space needed. GCC faculty and staff and BFMC staff were enthusiastic about working together to create a Simulation Learning Lab. Since then, representatives of each institution met to work out the details of the partnership and the two institutions signed a partnership contract in November.

Nancy Craig-Williams PhD, MS, RN, GCC’s Assistant Dean for Nursing Programs, said “This partnership brings together the resources of two community institutions – GCC and BFMC – to expand educational opportunities for our community. The hospital is providing much needed space for education of GCC students, hospital staff, and area EMS providers. This new Simulation Learning Lab and continued collaboration between GCC and BFMC means everyone wins – students seeking to develop health care careers, hospital and EMS professionals seeking professional development, and the community being served by area health care professionals.”

Bak said, “GCC and BFMC already share a strong working collaboration, and this takes it to another level. Because of our strong connection, the generous donors who provided the simulation equipment to GCC, and BFMC’s commitment to our community, BFMC’s nurses and other health care providers will be able to learn in a state-of-the-art safe environment.”

Leesa-Lee Keith RN, MSN, Chief Nursing Officer at BFMC, agrees that “This partnership helps our whole community succeed. For hospital personnel, the Lab offers a low-stress learning environment where people can learn best. This technology allows us to bring the very best to GCC students and health care providers on the hospital staff. The Lab helps BFMC stay on the cusp of best practices, so we can provide high quality, high safety, compassionate care to members of our community.”

For information about the new Simulation Learning Lab, contact Nancy Craig-Williams at GCC,, 413-775-1758, or Kayte Bak at BFMC,, 413-773-2627. 

By Mary McClintock, ’82

Local Designer Awarded Child Care Center Project

Greenfield-based Jones Whitsett Architects has been chosen to design Greenfield Community College’s new Child Care Center. The Massachusetts Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance(DCAMM) selected Jones Whitsett to design a state-of-the-art facility that will combine a healthy, creative educational setting with maximum environmental efficiency. Jones Whitsett is led by Principal Architect Margo JonesAIA, NCARB, LEED AP. Jones Whitsett Architects is an award-winning architectural practice with three decades of experience providing architectural services on municipal, cultural, and historic preservation projects. Over the past two decades, school design has become the largest part of Jones Whitsett’s portfolio. The firm is known for their creative collaboration, ability to listen, high performance technical expertise, sensitivity to community and context, and functional pragmatism.

The new Child Care Center will be the first on-campus child care center at GCC since GCC’s Head Start program ended about fifteen years ago when renovation began on the College’s Main Building. The new Center will be built on the College’s Main Campus and will serve GCC the families of GCC staff, faculty and students, as well as families from throughout the community. It will also serve as the “lab school” for students in GCC’s Education programs to do their field work.

Commenting on the selection of Jones Whitsett, GCC President Bob Pura said, “The competition for this project was stiff with many good architects from throughout the state eager to take on the work. We are especially pleased that the DCAMM Review Board chose Greenfield-based Jones Whitsett Architects to design GCC’s new Child Care Center. Margo Jones’ understanding of GCC is long-standing. This brings an added dimension and understanding of this community to the design of the Center. Knowing that Jones Whitsett is designing the Center elevates our excitement about the project. We are hopeful that children, teachers, parents, and GCC’s students will be entering the new Child Care Center by January of 2017.”

Responding to DCAMM’s decision, Jones said, “Jones Whitsett Architects is truly thrilled to have been selected as the design firm for this important project. It is a very exciting project, which will utilize many of our strengths and passions—healthy, creative educational environments, cutting edge sustainable design, participatory and reclamation landscape architecture, and early childhood design that will be ‘state of the art.’ Certainly affordable, high quality child care for GCC is needed, and will be a huge resource for the College and its community. We are especially honored to be chosen to follow in the footsteps of the previous design team who, in partnership with GCC and DCAMM, made beautiful improvements to the Main Building at the campus. We have every confidence we can meet and possibly exceed this very high bar for interactive, accessible architecture. Since the child care facility will be a new building, we’ll be able to make it even ‘greener,’ and hopefully comply with Passive House requirements for low energy use. And, it’s so great that we are a short bike ride away, and many of our staff and families have worked or studied at GCC. I was on the GCC Foundation Board many years ago, my daughter went to GCC, and it is gratifying to be working with President Pura and his staff on this exciting project.”

Reflecting on the need for an on-campus Child Care Center, Kate Finnegan, GCC Professor of Education, said, “In order to flourish as younger human beings, children need loving care, food, shelter, heat, clothing, and education. In addition, educational programs like those that will be housed in the new Center offer protection, foster resiliency, and create opportunity. As children flourish and mature into adulthood, they begin their unique journey into the larger world. GCC welcomes the children and their families who will be served by the programming delivered at the new facility on GCC campus. A majority of the parents of children served by child care programming at the new GCC facility will be, in all likelihood, GCC students. When GCC’s previous child care program closed years ago, 75% of the children’s parents were also GCC students.”

Working on the Child Care Center design along with Jones Whitsett will be Keith Miller of Miller Design LLC. Miller said, “Miller Design has designed over 100 Child Care Centers in the United States and abroad and we are excited to be part of the design team with Jones Whitsett Architects. We look forward to sharing our expertise with the team and community in creating a building that will in turn shape the future of the community through the children, faculty, and students. As a team, we feel it is important that everyone understands that this needs to be a great place to be a child because it is the only childhood he or she will ever have.”

By Mary McClintock, ’82

Greenfield Community College Announces New Director of Campus Public Safety

Fulfilling his long-time career goal, Luis R. Santamaria has been chosen as Greenfield Community College’s new Director of Campus Public Safety and begins his new position on February 9. Santamaria will oversee GCC’s Campus Public Safety department and serve as GCC’s Chief of Police. He leaves his position as Associate Director of Public Safety for Curry College in Milton, MA and replaces the former GCC Director who recently retired. Prior to his work at Curry College, Santamaria served as a Sergeant for Tufts University for nine years and as a Campus Police Officer at Simmons College and Officer in Charge at Western New England University.

Commenting on Santamaria’s appointment, GCC Chief Financial Officer Tim Braim said, “We are fortunate to have someone of Santamaria’s background with his experience in a college environment. This is a very important position that requires both broad skill and knowledge and the right personality. We received very positive feedback about Santamaria from GCC community members who attended the candidate public forums we held. He’s a very friendly person who will communicate well with everyone and will be out and about, talking with students and staff. Santamaria is the right person to fit into the GCC campus community.”

Eager to step into his new role, Santamaria said, “A long time ago, I chose campus law enforcement for my career because I really believe in higher education. This is my dream fulfilled and I am grateful to have the opportunity. It’s exactly where I want to be. I’ll be able to exercise everything I’ve learned and will be involved in the community, helping the Campus Public Safety department follow through on the College’s mission statement. I will have an open door policy. I’m a good listener and I look forward to addressing the needs of the community.”    Santamaria graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice from Western New England University in Springfield, MA and then went on to complete a Master of Science in Criminal Justice Administration there. He served as Vice President of his class at the Special State Police Academy. Santamaria holds EMT Certification and has certification as a MCJTC Sexual Assault Investigator, Defensive Tactics Instructor, and Rape Aggression Defense Instructor. He is bilingual in English and Spanish.

Santamaria grew up in Hastings on Hudson near Yonkers, NY and went to college and graduate school in western Massachusetts. Santamaria’s brother is currently in law school at Western New England University and he looks forward to living closer to his brother.

By Mary McClintock, ’82

GCC & Elms College to Offer 4 Bachelor’s Degree Completion Programs

4 Bachelor’s Degree Completion Programs to be available on the GCC Main Campus

At Greenfield Community College, 2+2 equals more than four, it equals earning an accredited Elms College Bachelor of Arts degree delivered on the GCC campus. Culminating a highly collaborative effort by Greenfield Community College and Elms College faculty and staff, GCC President Bob Pura and Elms College President Sister Mary Reap met at GCC to sign the Memoranda of Understanding authorizing the new programs. Starting in Fall, 2015, GCC students who want to pursue bachelor’s degree programs in Business Management & Marketing or Early Care and Education will be able to complete their degrees on the GCC main campus. The two new degree completion programs join two existing Elms College degree completion programs available to GCC students: a Bachelor in Social Work program that is offered on the GCC campus and a fully online Bachelor of Speech Language Pathology Assistant program. This expanded partnership will continue to grow in the future with the addition of other 2+2 content area associate’s to bachelor’s completion programs.

GCC and Elms College’s collaboration expands the options for students who have received a GCC associate’s degree to continue their education toward a bachelor’s degree affordably and close to home. Students start at GCC, are carefully advised to complete a two-year GCC associate’s degree while satisfying Elms College admissions requirements for selected programs, then continue at GCC with the Elms program for up to two years to complete their bachelor’s degree. Courses for the new Bachelor of Arts Degree Completion Programs will be taught by faculty approved by Elms on Saturdays at GCC’s campus in Greenfield. Elms delivers the program at the GCC campus for a significant discount in comparison to studying at the Elms campus in Chicopee.

Applauding the expanded partnership, GCC President Bob Pura said, “Working collaboratively to increase access to the Baccalaureate Degree here at GCC is important to our current students as well as our alumni.  Many GCC students, however, are place-bound because of work and family commitments. It is for those students that we have worked with Elms to create these opportunities. This is a win for our students, a win for the community, and a win for both colleges!”

Elms College President Sister Mary Reap said, “The GCC/Elms 2+2 agreement is one more effort in the partnership begun two years ago with the undergraduate completion program offered on the campus of GCC. America faces a challenge of affordable, high-quality higher education. I am pleased and proud that the joint efforts of our two colleges allow us to respond to this challenge and to find new and innovative approaches to meet the higher education needs of our local communities.”

Collaboration was of the highest level in creating this richly expanded set of options where students can complete the two degrees with the greatest use of their time and credits.

Faculty at GCC and Elms worked closely to articulate GCC’s associate’s and Elms bachelor’s degree requirements to provide a smooth and meaningful educational pathway so students can utilize their GCC course work to effectively enhance their skills and knowledge at a more advanced level. Faculty and staff from both colleges have also worked to coordinate recruitment, admissions, and advising systems to make sure students get the best of both colleges.

Leading the partnership effort have been GCC Chief Academic and Student Affairs Officer Sher Hruska and Elms Vice President of Academic Affairs Walter C. Breau and GCC Dean of Business & Information Technology, Professional Studies, and Social Sciences Kathy Vranos and Elms College Dean of the School of Graduate and Professional Studies Elizabeth Hukowicz. These four leaders applauded the expanded partnership:

Hruska said, “We particularly appreciate this opportunity to work with Elms given the dedication we all share regarding individualized attention and support for students.”

Breau said, “These new programs are accelerated, accessible, and affordable, allowing students to fit continuing education into their busy family and work lives. Higher education is transformative. Our collective goal is to assist students in obtaining both degrees on their way to future success.”

Vranos said, “GCC is thrilled to offer an affordable bachelor’s degree of the caliber of Elms College on its campus in Greenfield. GCC understands the needs of a select group of students who work full-time, often are working parents and for whom it is hard to leave Franklin County for continuing education. Offering programs of this caliber meets a long-time demand for four-year programs on the GCC campus.”

Hukowicz said, “The GCC & Elms 2+2 Partnership means that students will study in familiar settings and remain close to home, family and work during their accelerated sessions. The students benefit from the GCC and Elms community that supports and enriches them.”

The Elms College Business Management & Marketing Bachelor of Art degree is built on top of the GCC Business Administration Transfer Associate of Arts degree and GCC’s Early Childhood Education Associate of Science degree feeds into the Elms Early Care and Education Bachelor of Art degree.

For more information on the GCC/Elms College 2+2 Bachelor’s Degree Completion Programs:

Students who have not completed GCC degrees should contact GCC Admissions at (413) 775-1801 or

Students who have completed GCC degrees and want to apply for admission to a two-year Elms College Bachelor’s Degree Completion program should contact Kristine Gomes, Elms College Coordinator at (413) 835-1772,

By Mary McClintock, ’82