Employee Spotlight

Michael Bushy

Michael Bushy

The inaugural BCC 40 Under 40 event honored an impressive group of young individuals in the Berkshire community who are making a positive impact. Included in this group was Hillcrest’s art teacher, Michael Bushy.

Aside from serving on Pittsfield’s Cultural Development Board, Berkshire Art Association as VP, and the Berkshire Museum’s New Roots Committee, Michael brings his teaching out of the classroom with printmaking/bookbinding workshops through IS183, the Clark, Miss Hall’s School, and demonstrations at the Berkshire Museum. He also offers development workshops to the Pittsfield Public Schools and at 3rd Thursdays, where he guides children, teens and adults in creating art. Kudos to Michael for donating his art and his time to our community and advocating for the importance of the arts in the lives of our youth.

A Successful Robert “Bees” Prendergast Reception

2016 St. PatsWith incredible support from the Berkshire community, Hillcrest raised $60,000 from the annual St. Patrick’s gala held on March 18th at the Country Club of Pittsfield. Over 240 businesses and individuals supported the event through their attendance, sponsorships, and donated auction items.

President of the Massachusetts State Senate, Senator Stanley Rosenberg, was presented with the “Irish Person of the Year” award. The Pittsfield UNICO was honored with the “Judge John A. Barry Award” for Community Service.

To highlight the event, attendees had the opportunity to hear directly from a 15 year old Hillcrest student, Mister Shaw, who shared his journey of losing his family in a fire and experienced numerous failed placements. His foster parent also shared an amazing story of resilience and how his son has overcome so many obstacles.

Coming from foster care himself, Senator Rosenberg is working on the Kids’ First initiative, and believes that Hillcrest is part of the continuum by helping kids to live the best lives they can. He shared a sentiment describing the feeling of helping children in their time of need, “if you lose but one child, it is as though you lost the whole word, but if you save one child it’s like you saved the whole world”.

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Berkshire County Kids’ Place – Raymond James Monopoly Tournament

BCKP Raymond JamesOn Thursday, February 25, Berkshire County Kids’ Place joined forces with Raymond James for the Raymond James Monopoly Tournament at Berkshire Hills Country Club.

Approximately 120 players gathered together in a fast-paced version of the classic game, and fun was had by all. The event brought in just over $12,000 to support the services provided at Kids’ Place to child abuse victims.

Upcoming Events

May 2016
5/21 Touch A Truck

June 2016
6/2 Berkshire County Law Enforcement Golf Tournament

July 2016
7/9 Cars for Kids Car Show
7/30 21st Annual Jimmy’s Ride Motorcycle Run

Campus Spotlight: Housatonic Academy Day Program

Allison Billard

Allison Billard -Program Director

Hillcrest Educational Centers’ Housatonic Academy is a therapeutic day school where the belief that all children can learn and do well is the foundation of our programming.

The Housatonic Academy program is a 12-month program, which includes a 7-week summer program. We operate on a rolling admission basis, so the students are admitted throughout the academic school year as well as during the summer months.

The academy provides individualized educational and therapeutic services that identify and build on the strengths of children and their families in a safe environment, allowing each student to reach their highest potential.

To support our children’s therapy and help them build skills for the future, Hillcrest offers multiple hands-on programs during the course of student treatment. For example, vocational programming that teaches skills to maintain rain gardens in downtown Pittsfield, certifying students in food safety and maintaining on-site greenhouses producing fresh vegetables for retail. All of these skills help students develop self-esteem and encourage them to continue their treatment in ways that can help them live independently in the future.

HA student in pool

The Housatonic Academy is licensed to serve students ages 6 through 22. Our students come to us from Berkshire County and the surrounding areas (New York, Southern Vermont). While all of our students have unique needs, the commonality is that all of our students have social-emotional or behavioral difficulties that cannot be met within the public school setting.

At the Housatonic Academy, there are classrooms that are specifically devoted to educating children on the Autism Spectrum. These classrooms utilize an Applied Behavior Analysis approach to education and behavior management.

Campus Spotlight: Brookside Intensive Treatment Unit


Peter Lopenzina, Program Director – Brookside Intensive Treatment Unit

For more than 20 years, Hillcrest’s Brookside Intensive Treatment Unit (ITU) has successfully treated hundreds of the most acute psychiatrically and behaviorally challenged children in the region.  

The ITU is known by hospitals, school districts and child protective agencies as a placement of last hope – a place that will not give up on a student that has had multiple failures in foster care or other residential schools. Most of the ITU students endured repeated psychiatric hospitalizations before finding the one program that could break that debilitating cycle.

This year we are eager to meet a new challenge – the transition to an all-female population. Eight year’s ago, when we moved to our current Brookside site in Great Barrington, we served mostly males. That has slowly changed over the years as we built a reputation of success in treating girls with serious behaviors. These young ladies are faced with extremely difficult problems placing them at high risk, as evidenced by the closure of many programs in the state and region that had served girls. Hillcrest’s success with females has resulted in great demand for our services.

In January of this year we sent notification to our parents, guardians and referral agencies that our few remaining boys will be transitioned gradually to our Highpoint campus or other appropriate community placements through this summer. It is our goal to be an all-female campus going into the 2016-2017 school year.

Our success with girls has been due to a consistent regimen of counseling, skills training, empowerment, education, and enriched activity programs. Programs like Girl’s Circle, a group format that helps girls learn to value themselves and work together toward common goals, help our students. Our group therapy is based on DBT – a skills-based approach that teaches girls specific skills in areas such as emotional regulation and anger management. Our classrooms have very small groupings that are conducive to one-on-one engagement whenever necessary.

ArtworkWe believe that active girls are less likely to be overwhelmed by anxiety or memories of past trauma. We continue to build on our outdoor activities including high-ropes courses, canoeing, skiing and fitness challenges. We believe that exposure to art and culture helps our girls experience possibilities beyond their personal experiences. Our students participate in art projects, poetry cafes, talent shows and have even attended Broadway shows as an incentive for safe behavior.

MelissaA recent graduate, Melissa (pictured left) stated “my art projects keep me positively focused, so I don’t dwell on the things that drag me down”. As a parting gift to the campus she finished a mural featuring the letters HEF – standing for the Hillcrest Educational Foundation.   We have proudly hung the painting in our school lobby, where it joins photo collages and art projects from all our students.

What’s the Scoop about the Scooper Dooper?!


Ellie Sorrentino, ASD Teacher

Guest Blogger: Ellie Sorrentino, Teacher at the Hillcrest ASD Program


Since we have distributed our first issue of our newsletter we have been asked the same question: “What is the Scooper Dooper?” Well, first let’s start with the name. A strong supporter of our Hillcrest Autism Spectrum Disorders Residential Program has a catch phrase “that’s the scooper dooper”. This phrase is just that, catchy. Our staff and some of our students have caught this phrase and added it to our everyday vocabulary. When asking one of our students why they like to say it they instantly laugh and reply “its fun to say!” Our students love to joke and say silly things with one another and staff. That is what we are all about, having fun!

Over the summer the Hillcrest education department was given the challenge to create a summer curriculum with a common theme to educate our students over the summer months. The theme was intended to provide students with a fun way to learn while still targeting their educational goals. Themes also had to relate to the Massachusetts Common Core Frameworks by choosing a content area or two as the foundation of the curriculum. The teachers within the Autism Spectrum Disorders Residential Program brainstormed some great ideas and settled on the idea of choosing writing as our foundation to produce a newsletter. Being that our program is relatively new to Hillcrest and the community of Berkshire County we thought this would be a great way to show everyone who we are and what we do. While having fun, of course!

Now that we had the big idea, our teachers worked hard to find individual educational targets that aligned to a different common core standard for our 21 students. Once these targets were identified our teachers got to the fun part in creating materials and activities that we could use to contribute to the newsletter. We shined on our students’ skills of writing, their artistic talent, their communication and social skills, vocational work, and more! Through this project our students were able to put these skills to work as well as experience some great field trips! Some of our students went to the local Farmer’s Market to buy some healthy foods while others explored our town of Lenox by visiting a variety of community places and greeting our community helpers. We are certainly surrounded by a great community so our teachers were just as excited as our students were to gain these experiences. Our teachers then worked even harder to put together all of the students’ work and pictures to represent this curriculum project as well as capture the skills our students have to offer.   Thus, the first issue of the Scooper Dooper was born.

Once this newsletter was ready to put to press our students along with our staff took a great deal of pride in this work. Teamwork is a common theme in our program that is seen every day in all that we do. So make sure you read through our first issue to learn more about the amazing work our staff do to teach our students and make such a big difference! Well, “that’s the scooper dooper” on that. Now the question we often hear is “When is the next one?”, stay tuned for the next issue of the Scooper Dooper in April!

In the meantime, check out the first edition of The Scooper Dooper here!

Hillcrest Community Support Services

Experience the Difference
The everyday stresses that we live with can often be overwhelming. Hillcrest Community Support Services (HCSS) has licensed and professionally trained staffed that are focused on improving our community by providing outpatient behavioral health care services for children, adolescents and adults. Hillcrest has been a leader in the field working with children, parents and families for over 25 years. The success of HCSS is based on utilizing the best available research and evidence-based practices combined with extensive experience.

GirlwDandelionWith the right approach, people can and do live healthier, happier lives. Hillcrest Community Support Services offers a full range of comprehensive behavioral health therapy to all ages, including couples and families. HCSS assists individuals in meeting their goals by providing services that have been proven to work and are delivered with skill, respect and compassion.

The HCSS Staff
Each staff member is committed to providing services in a confidential and supportive environment. Our providers include clinical psychologists, including specialization in neuropsychology and licensed independent clinical social workers.

Contact Us
Hillcrest Community Support Services
Tel: (413) 499-2031 Fax: (413) 442-4677