Students See State Government, Up Close and Personal

Students in GCC Professor Buz Eisenberg’s Political Science classes do more than read about state government, they meet the people who make the laws. On November 13, Eisenberg and 19 GCC students will travel to Representative Paul Mark’s 2nd Berkshire Day at the Massachusetts State House. They’ll join people from local government, education, business, labor, and cultural organizations to learn about what happens in the State House. They’ll hear presentations by Massachusetts legislative leaders, including the Speaker of the House, State Auditor, State Treasurer, Stan Rosenberg, Ben Downing, Steve Kulik, and others. Touring the State House, they’ll sit where the legislature sits and stand where the Speaker of the House stands. The GCC students also will get to know community leaders from Franklin and Berkshire counties.

Mark started the now-annual regional leadership conference in 2011 to increase collaboration in the region and to shed light on what happens at the State House. After attending the first conference, Eisenberg asked Mark to include GCC students. Since then, a wide range of students have attended the conference, including GCC Student Senators, veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, and teenagers who are dual-enrolled from their high schools.

Mark said, “I love watching people from the district ask questions directly to high ranking officials and teach these officials more about our region. It’s a great learning experience for everyone involved. This is a great opportunity for GCC students to learn more about their government and to get interested in the legislative process. It is very important to me that tomorrow’s voters and leaders understand government is not a mysterious third party entity, it is a process by which everyone has a say in determining the direction of our society.”

Eisenberg said, “The students ask excellent questions and the leaders treat the students with respect. They develop a sense that they can hold their own while talking with community leaders and state dignitaries. The students get to understand how lives are impacted by what happens in this building. And, they learn the historical context, that 200 years ago, citizens were doing this. This is an example of Representative Mark’s unrelenting commitment to public higher education and GCC’s commitment to civic engagement.”

Victoria Damato, 36, from Athol participated in 2nd Berkshire Day while a student at GCC. She graduated from GCC in May with an Associate degree in Criminal Justice. Now studying Law and Society at Western New England University, Damato plans to attend law school in the future. She said, “The leaders we met were very open and made us feel like we were important. I’ve been in the United States for ten years. Coming from Poland, this is very different than anything that happens in Poland, where there is a big line drawn between citizens and people in government. For me, wanting to study law, it was powerful to sit where legislation is crafted. In the House Chamber, I became aware of the significance of what goes on there and felt the connectedness of the long history of legislation that has been brought forward in that very chamber. I also became more aware of the deeper responsibility that politicians embrace while in office. There are people you meet who have the power to transform and change your life by exposing you to something that would never have happened without them. Buz Eisenberg and Paul Mark have been that for me.”

For information about 2nd Berkshire Day, contact Representative Mark at or (413) 464-5635 or (617) 722-2210.

 By Mary McClintock, ’82

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GCC & Community Action Lead the Way in Early Care and Education

When Community Action’s staff couldn’t find enough college-level coursework in leadership to meet Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care requirements, Gwen Hawk knew who to call. Hawk, Education Manager for Community Action’s Parent Child Development Center (PCDC), phoned Kate Finnegan, Co-Chair of GCC’s Education Department, to talk about how to meet this workforce development need. That conversation led to Finnegan and Hawk creating and delivering EDU 244 “Leadership in Early Care and Education” in summer 2014 to 15 PCDC staff members from Franklin, Hampshire, and Hampden counties.

Hawk said, “I turned to GCC for several reasons. GCC is a responsive community player uniquely invested in the development of the early care and education workforce. GCC’s Education Department was instrumental to my success within the field. I would not be the leader I am today without the leadership, mentoring, and wisdom of the Education Department leaders at GCC. And, I know where to go to make things happen because GCC moves mountains when it comes to meeting community needs!”

Hawk and Finnegan quickly realized they each brought invaluable perspective and knowledge to the project and needed to co-create a course. Finnegan brought a background in academic scholarship on leadership in education and a broad theoretical perspective. Hawk, who holds an Associate of Science from GCC, an Associate of Arts, and a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, brought the context of working her way up from being an early childhood teacher to her current position managing the PCDC/Head Start education department in Franklin, Hampshire, and Hampden counties. The Massachusetts Department of Higher Education’s Vision Project provided support for the development and delivery of the course.

Massachusetts rates licensed child care centers using the MA Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS). For a program to achieve QRIS Level 3, the program’s administrator must have nine credits of college courses in leadership and management. Across the state, program administrators are having a hard time finding such courses. Most of the students in EDU 244 were PCDC site program administrators seeking credits to benefit their centers and careers.

Topics covered by the seven-week course focused on building the students’ capability as supervisors and mentors. To serve students working in three counties, Finnegan and Hawk chose an online/hybrid course format with reading and writing assignments, online discussions, and three face-to-face sessions. The face-to-face sessions featured speakers addressing challenging real-life workplace situations and student presentations.

Reflecting on the course’s impact on PCDC staff, Hawk said, “Early care and education is evolving as a field from a babysitter mindset to an educational professional mindset. There’s nothing more important than the care provided to children and it takes a lot to run an effective program. We have a dedicated workforce, but they they need more tools to help them do the job. This course is one of the tools.”

Finnegan sees EDU 244 as a model for other courses. She said, “When considering workforce development, we must listen to the people in the workplace. I could have developed an academically rigorous course on my own, but developing and delivering this course with Gwen meant it was very specific to the workforce needs and grounded in the here and now. It was wonderful to share a rapid, thoughtful, creative course development process with Gwen. We can learn broad lessons from this collaboration about excellence in college courses for workforce development.”

For information about EDU 244 and other GCC Education Department courses, contact Kate Finnegan at or 413-775-1125.

By Mary McClintock, 82

GCC receives award for Excellence in Manufacturing Training

Tooling U-SME Recognizes Six Community and Technical Colleges with Platinum Education Center Award for Excellence in Manufacturing Training 

Coinciding with Manufacturing Day, October 1, 2014, Tooling U-SME, a leader in manufacturing training and development, today presented its Platinum Education Center designation to six community and technical colleges nationwide, including Greenfield Community College.

The Tooling U-SME Platinum Education Center (TUPEC) awards are presented to educational facilities that serve as models in the manufacturing industry when it comes to developing an outstanding learning culture. Schools are selected based on adoption of Tooling U-SME’s online training program and strong utilization rates of online training in a blended learning format. These six schools join 21 other past TUPEC awardees.

According to The Institute for Supply Management, the U.S. manufacturing industry is growing at its fastest pace within the past three years. However, according to The Boston Consulting Group, without aggressive action, the next decade is expected to bring a potential shortfall of 875,000 machinists, welders, industrial machinery mechanics and industrial engineers. As demand for skilled workers continues to increase, community colleges and technical schools are striving to provide training that meets the needs of manufacturers.

“The schools that we honor with the TUPEC designation demonstrate an exceptional commitment and dedication to preparing students for a successful career in the manufacturing industry,” said Toni Neary, education specialist for Tooling U-SME’s Government and Education Group. “Instructors at these schools are finding innovative ways to effectively use both online and hands-on training to help students develop critical skills and become strong candidates for employment at local manufacturing facilities.”

The schools that received the 2014 TUPEC designation include:

  • Atlantic Technical College, Coconut Creek, Florida, employs an effective approach to training that integrates academics and technical training with critical thinking and problem-solving skills. The program enables students to obtain information and tools, while enabling instructors to provide hands-on support.
  • Fayetteville (North Carolina) Technical Community College is part of a consortium of statewide community colleges that aims to educate and train displaced and dislocated workers to fill the needs of local manufacturers. Using state-of-the-art equipment for hands-on training and a new approach to learning, students can earn certificates, degrees and diplomas, and ultimately, obtain full-time employment.
  • Greenfield (Massachusetts) Community College has partnered with Tooling U-SME for a new training program for entry-level CNC operators, targeting unemployed and underemployed workers. In addition, to meet the demand for skills workers in its community, Greenfield Community College has worked with area manufacturers to pilot classes for incumbent workers.
  • Kellogg Community College, Battle Creek, Michigan, has proven to be a pioneer in the way it structures its training, offering a dynamic open-entry/open-exit program that gives students flexibility in scheduling coursework and laboratory work.
  • Southern Oklahoma Technology Center, Ardmore, Oklahoma, uses Tooling U-SME online courses as a supplement to textbooks and other resources to provide a well-rounded and comprehensive educational experience.
  • The Arizona Advanced Manufacturing Institute (AZ-AMI) of Mesa Community College in Mesa, Arizona, has enhanced its current curriculum and laboratory equipment, and is blending innovation using technology such as Tooling U-SME online training. In addition to traditional students, the AZ-AMI strategy is to attract workers with existing skills and aptitude to help them develop new skills sought by local employers.

Since 2012, Tooling U-SME has been recognizing exceptional schools that are helping build a robust pipeline of skilled manufacturing workers in the U.S. with the TUPEC award.

For more information about Tooling U-SME, email or visit

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GCC Wins National Green Genome Award

Recognition for outstanding college sustainability and workforce efforts

 When community college leaders from across the United States look for an example of an innovative, effective, and sustainable college, they’ll look to Greenfield Community College. As part of an expanding national effort to support environmentally sustainable practices, programs, and job training at the nation’s almost 1,200 community colleges, Greenfield Community College is one of five exemplary community colleges to be presented with an American Association of Community College (AACC) Green Genome Award today.

The Green Genome Awards, created by AACC’s Sustainability Education and Economic Development Center (SEED), are evaluated in four key areas critical to holistic green college transformation: community engagement, governance, program design and delivery, and strategic partnerships. Greenfield Community College is recognized as the Overall winner, demonstrating excellence in all four key areas. That excellence can be seen in GCC’s academic programs in Renewable Energy/Energy Efficiency and Farm and Food Systems, on-campus photovoltaic solar panels and permaculture garden, campus-wide composting and recycling, collaborations with many community partners, and campus leadership that considers sustainability in its decision making. Greenfield Community College will be awarded $7,500 plus a set of state-of-the-art Bahco brand Snap-on tools and horticulture equipment. The awards are sponsored by Snap-on.

Greenfield Community College President Bob Pura said, ““As the primary organizing body of community colleges of the United States, AACC knows and understands community colleges across the country. We therefore are most honored and lifted by this recognition. I am so very proud of all of the people in the College and the Community who made it possible for AACC to recognize GCC with this award. It is great to get acknowledged for demonstrating best practices by an organization that is so well informed. What this award also does is encourage us to work harder and aspire to even higher standards.”

Other winners of this prestigious award include:

  • Gateway Technical College, Wisconsin (Strategic Partnerships)
  • Lane Community College, Oregon (Governance)
  • McHenry County College, Illinois (Community Engagement)
  • Moraine Valley Community College, Illinois (Program Design & Delivery)

“AACC is thrilled to recognize colleges like Greenfield Community College that have not only prepared a skilled workforce, but have also become change agents in regional efforts to develop a green and sustainable economy,” said Walter G. Bumphus, AACC President and CEO. “Through the SEED Center, AACC is providing community colleges an important roadmap to connect and integrate campus sustainability practices and clean economy-related education and workforce development.”

“This national award will not only equip GCC with state-of-the-art equipment but also with additional capital to boost their already successful program,” said U.S. Representative Jim McGovern. “This award is further proof that GCC is a national leader in the field of sustainable and renewable energy education and workforce development.”

GCC Faculty/Staff Respond to the Green Genome Award

Teresa Jones, Program Coordinator for GCC’s Renewable Energy/Energy Efficiency (RE/EE) Program

As a community college, GCC has been able to serve as facilitator to bring together the remarkable talent and passion from our region and grow sustainable practices from the ground up. Our programs and activities reflect hundreds of hands, minds and hearts. Our work brings together big-picture ideas and the literal nuts-and-bolts of building energy systems, planting food, working side-by-side with different people toward common goals. We know that it’s a perpetual work in progress and we thank our students, especially, for helping us to ‘walk the talk.’ I’m thrilled with this acknowledgement of our collective achievement.

Peter Rosnick, Adjunct Math Faculty and Director of SAGE – Sustainable Agriculture and Green Energy Education Center

The SAGE (Sustainable Agriculture and Green Energy) Education Center at Greenfield Community College – “where science, workforce development, and civic responsibility meet” – bridges the work of the Renewable Energy/Energy Efficiency and Farm and Food Systems Programs along with related offerings of GCC’s Department of Workforce Development. Through the work of the SAGE Center, GCC is addressing three of the most compelling issues of our time – climate change, job security, and social justice. We are teaching students how to protect the environment and are helping them get good green jobs. In addition to honoring the work the college does in sustainability, The Green Genome Award very significantly and specifically honors the ninety community businesses and organizations with whom the RE/EE and FFS programs partner.  This award recognizes the entire community.

Montserrat Archbald, Green Campus Committee Chair

So much of the work we do on a daily basis is small and incremental—it’s great to be recognized as part of a much larger movement at GCC and colleges across the country.

Abrah Dresdale, Faculty/Coordinator of Farm and Food Systems program

I believe in working at a college that takes a whole systems approach to sustainability, where an institution chooses to leverage its position to demonstrate best practices. At GCC, we have a new bike share program, local food procurement for the dining commons, a green speaker series, and many other examples of sustainability permeating the campus. The Farm and Food Systems program is a liberal arts degree option focused on sustainable agriculture, permaculture, and building resilient regional food systems. We have worked with over 40 community partners, including the Franklin County Jail, where we offer an organic gardening class for incarcerated men; now there is a vegetable garden and fruit trees at the jail! Through a grant from the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts we’re collaborating with grant partners NELCWIT, Montague Catholic Social Ministries, and Seeds of Solidarity to support women in transition to increase their food security and economic independence. The Farm and Food Systems program at GCC teaches about and engages with the interface of sustainability and social justice issues in our community and beyond.

Brian Adams, Professor of Environmental Science

Photovoltaics behind the East Building; a passive solar greenhouse; a permaculture garden; a LEED-certified building renovation; academic programs in Farm and Food Systems and Renewable Energy/Energy Efficiency; active and committed faculty and staff. These are some of the reasons why GCC has received this prestigious sustainability award. We have accomplished so much and we have so much more to accomplish.

Christine Copeland, Internship Developer, DOL Transformations Grant and RE/EE Program Assistant

What greater testament is there to the value of our programs than the work of our graduates? They are installing energy systems, diagnosing houses for energy efficiency, creating community gardens – living with quiet passion and conviction as business owners, coop members, employees, interns, volunteers and good citizens. Our graduates express their appreciation for GCC by sitting on advisory boards and inviting students to intern with them. The work builds on itself. They are facing the pressing demands of our future.

About SEED

AACC’s Sustainability Education & Economic Development Initiative, SEED, advances sustainability and green workforce development practices at community colleges by sharing innovative models and free resources to increase the capacity of college leaders, faculty, and staff to build the green economy. The SEED Initiative was created in partnership with ecoAmerica and has received support from the Kresge, Flora Family, and Surdna Foundations and corporate partners Snap-on and Pearson Higher Education.

About the American Association of Community Colleges

The American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) is the primary advocacy organization for the nation’s more than 1,100 community, junior, and technical colleges and their more than 13 million students. Community colleges are the largest and fastest growing sector of higher education. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., AACC has been in operation since 1920. For more information about AACC and community colleges see

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