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Pro Vita: Berkshire School Spends a Week at AIER

Written by guest blogger, Christopher Perkins, Economics Teacher at Berkshire School

Berkshire School Interns & SupervisorsJust before March break, constituents from a wide spectrum of the Berkshire community gather on campus for a week to challenge and stretch students in ways beyond what is offered in the traditional high school curriculum. With over 80 courses on topics ranging from the study of W.E.B. DuBois (Great Barrington High School graduate and co-founder of the modern day civil rights movement) to the breaking down of mathematical theories and formulas in a few of the classic math movies like Good Will Hunting, A Beautiful Mind, and 21, the Pro Vita program plays a vital role in extending the process of learning to outside the classroom.

An important aspect of the Pro Vita program that is not necessarily conveyed through the course catalog is the heightened interaction during this week between Berkshire School and the outside world. As of my writing, Berkshire has already sent kids to Germany for a week of classes and museum tours, welcomed the University of Connecticut’s a cappella group to campus for a Sunday night concert, brought in alumni/ae to teach classes, and listened to Perk Perkins (current Orvis CEO) discuss his adventures and convey his life lessons.

In regards to AIER’s involvement in Berkshire’s Pro Vita week, it all began when Bill Bullock (Berkshire’s Director of Development) and I took a trip to AIER’s campus this past fall and met with Natalia Smirnova and Steve Adams to discuss whether it made sense to increase our level of collaboration with one another. Without hesitation, the answer was yes, and the outcome of this initial meeting resulted in Berkshire’s three Economics classes spending a morning on AIER’s campus in early January.  Not only did these trips play a vital role in the students learning, but it also set into motion the Pro Vita curriculum 6 weeks later.

For the Pro Vita week, six students from Berkshire are making an early trip to AIER’s campus to spend the morning working on six separate projects. So far the week has started off well. The students have all been assigned projects and mentors, have gotten familiar with the resources surrounding them, and are now hunkering down to the task at hand. I’m excited to see where the work will take them. The assignments and the hands-on mentoring should not only give our students a heightened awareness of some of the current economic issues facing our country, but they will also undoubtedly provide valuable experience and lifelong skills.

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