Franklin County Technical School   82 Industrial Blvd.   Turners Falls, MA 413 . 863 . 9561

Franklin County Tech Teacher Receives Excellence in Teaching Award

Franklin County Technical School Special Education Teacher Lynne Paju has been selected to receive this year’s Pioneer Valley Excellence in Teaching Award given by the Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation.

Paju, who has been teaching at FCTS for three years, was surprised to learn that she had won the award.

“There are so many talented and excellent teachers at this school,” she said. “It’s nice to get the acknowledgement. I’m honored. I’ll try to be worthy of the award.”

The Pioneer Valley Excellence in Teaching Award recognizes exceptional public and parochial school teachers in the region for their dedication to enhancing education. The awards are presented based on excellence in teaching practices, the teacher’s own professional development, good attendance on the job, and enthusiasm for teaching and working with children.

“I love the kids here,” Paju said. “I really care about the wellbeing of the students. I try to find a way with each student to know how they learn best and help them feel good about themselves. I try to help them to become happy members of society. I love teaching and I’m learning every day.”

Paju was nominated for the award by the FCTS administrative team. Principal Shawn Rickan said the administrators picked Paju because she is “reliable, responsible and has a high enthusiasm for the profession.”

A native of Colonie, New York, Paju began teaching at Franklin County Technical School in the fall of 2013. She is currently a resident of Northampton.

Paju earned her bachelor’s degree from SUNY Plattsburgh, Outdoor Leadership Certification from Greenfield Community College, and her master’s degree from Fitchburg State College.

Paju and other recipients of the Pioneer Valley Excellence in Teaching Award will be honored at a banquet on April 28 at The Log Cabin in Holyoke.

American Icon Inspires Student in Campaign for SkillsUSA Office

Kristin Slowinski, a Franklin County Technical School health technology student, is conjuring up an icon of American feminism and patriotism for her campaign to be elected SkillsUSA state officer.

Dressed in a blue work shirt, her hair tied back with a kerchief, and flexing a bicep muscle, Slowinski posed recently to have her photo taken as the woman from J. Howard Miller’s 1942 “We Can Do It!” poster. Although the image on the poster was never officially called “Rosie,” Slowinski is taking this image and Rosie the Riveter as her inspiration for her campaign.

Instead of “We Can Do It!,” Slowinski’s slogan will be “I Can Do It!.” Slowinski had her photo taken in front of a green screen and will use the background from the original poster and her slogan for her own customized campaign poster.

Rosie the Riveter represented American women who worked in factories during World War II, and is commonly used as a symbol of feminism and female economic power. Slowinski said the poster and the Rosie character have resonated with women throughout the decades.

“Rosie led to a lot of women’s jobs in industry and led to a lot of change in the world,” she said. “I want to make a lot of change too.”

Slowinski will take her campaign for state officer to the Massachusetts SkillsUSA Leadership and Skills Conference held from April 28-30, 2016 at the Best Western Royal Plaza and Trade Center in Marlborough. She’ll display the poster and make a presentation to delegates who will vote to elect new officers.

Slowinski said that SkillsUSA has had a major impact on her life and she is hoping to use her involvement in the organization to help those in need.

“SkillsUSA has helped me so much to become more of who I really am,” she said. “It made me realize that there are people worse off than I am and I want to help those people.”

With that in mind, Slowinski hopes to become more involved in the Be Like Brit Foundation, Inc. which builds orphanages in Haiti. The organization was named for Britney Gengel who traveled to Haiti with a group from her college to help the poor. She was killed in an earthquake in 2010 while there. In her last text to her mother, Gengel said she wanted to move to Haiti and build orphanages.

After her death, Gengel’s parents started the Be Like Brit Foundation, Inc. and within two years built a 19,000 square foot orphanage. Franklin County Technical School sponsored one of the 33 rooms in the orphanage.

FCTS students also won competitions at the regional conference held recently at Charles H. McCann Technical School in North Adams. The winners were, Ally Renaud, gold medal, cosmetology; Colton Tarbox, gold medal, computer web design; Destiny McDonough, silver medal, cosmetology; Mallory Willis, silver medal, health technology; Chad Williams, bronze medal, medical technology; and Tegan Valeski, bronze medal, medical terminology.

“The kids were fantastic,” said SkillsUSA faculty advisor Electra Manley. “They really rose to the occasion. A great effort was put on by each shop participant. Their enthusiasm was very good.”

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