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Editorial: GCC continues to respond to the call

Call-and-response, as defined by Merriam-Webster, is “a statement quickly followed by an answering statement.” The phrase, we think, is an apt description of the continual evolution of Greenfield Community College.

At its base, GCC is the two-year institute of higher education serving Franklin County and beyond. But for a number of years now, the school has heard the call of what its community wants and has responded to provide what’s necessary to fill that need.

Let’s consider two recent examples.

First, came the news that during the next two years, the college would be growing its sustainable agriculture and green energy programs with the help of a couple of grants.

One, for $197,000, came from the National Science Foundation and would allow the school to develop new courses and offset some staff costs as well as making additional improvements to the school’s greenhouse, a fairly new structure that was built in response to what the college community was saying was needed in the area. In this case, what’s planned for the greenhouse is to add a water “catchment” system that traps water coming off the structure and use it for irrigating the permaculture garden below.

The other grant for $25,000, from the Wallace Genetic Foundation, will be used to plan a one-acre botanical garden.

“There’s so much amazing work going on in this region about resilience and sustainability,” Teresa Jones, GCC’s renewable energy and energy efficiency program coordinator, told The Recorder. “We’re one piece of that and we keep staying in conversations and connection with as many of these groups and individuals as we can.”

On a different front, the GCC community learned that the school’s effort to bring back an on-campus child care center received a significant boost when it was included in the state’s proposed capital bond bill. Local legislators say they are going to fight for the $9.5 million allocation, allowing the school to build a 15,000-square-foot child care center where a campus parking lot now exists.

Getting such a center would fill a void that has existed on campus since 1999, when GCC had to close its child care facility, leaving the school as the only one of the 15 community colleges in Massachusetts without a place for students and faculty to place their kids. At at the same time, it also creates a teaching experience.

The plan here is for GCC to partner with Community Action, which will run the center and offer Head Start for low-income families — thus the school will be serving both the immediate college and at-large community.

Having a campus child care center would also allow GCC to enhance what it can offer to its students interested in early childhood education since it would also serve as a “lab school.”

“It’s very seriously needed and I’m going to be advocating for it very strongly,” said state Rep. Stephen Kulik, vice chairman of the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Ways and Means. With Kulik and state Sen. Stanley Rosenberg lining up behind the money, there’s an excellent chance that this plan will become a reality.

Add these recent developments to the college’s several year effort to help train local men and women in the precision machine tool field, and the picture is clear.

When the community asks, GCC answers.

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