Principals and Heads of School may nominate an outstanding educator who meets the vision of the fund.


The James C. Kapteyn Endowment Fund was established in 2009 to honor the memory of James Cornelius Kapteyn, who dedicated his days and nights as a high school teacher to embodying the idea that, in the words of William Butler Yeats, "Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire.” Jamie died on January 16, 2007 at age 45 while playing indoor soccer with friends and colleagues from Deerfield Academy, his alma mater, where for seven years he had been an English teacher, the sophomore class dean, a girls varsity soccer and boys varsity lacrosse coach, and a faculty resident in a boys’ dormitory where he lived with his wife, Kirsten, of 18 years, and his two daughters, Ingrid and Ilse, Deerfield Classes of 2009 and 2012, respectively.

The primary mission of the fund is to honor Jamie’s memory by recognizing and supporting educators, who, like Jamie, offer extraordinary gifts to their students, and promote teaching excellence in the secondary schools within the Berkshire Taconic community. The fund provides one or more annual Kapteyn Prizes to a public or private high school teacher who exemplifies excellence in an array of roles within their school community (i.e. teaching, mentoring, coaching, etc.) and exhibits outstanding character traits.


The Kapteyn Prize is awarded to candidates who are currently teaching grades 9 through 12, who have made a career commitment to high school teaching of at least seven years, and whose excellence in and passion for teaching and learning inspire their students to excel, in the model of the late James C. Kapteyn. Prize winners are individuals of exemplary character, integrity, and honor who lead by example and impart to their students a lifelong love of learning and dedication to personal growth.

The overarching priority of the Kapteyn Prize is to recognize classroom teachers who serve their (own) students in multiple capacities within a secondary school community. A Kapteyn Prize candidate must be first and foremost a classroom teacher of exemplary character, who specializes in a curricular discipline, including those in the visual and performing arts, and technology and agricultural arts. A candidate must also serve his or her students in other important roles within this school community, guiding students in their roles as coaches, advisors, tutors and administrators, art directors, or as dormitory parents.

Following nomination by a principal or head of school, applications will be invited from teachers in public or private schools in the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation region and Franklin County, Massachusetts. Nominations are accepted from schools whose nominated teachers have not received the Kapteyn Prize in the previous three years.

Berkshire Taconic does not support organizations which in their constitution, by-laws, or practice, discriminate against a person or group on the basis of age, race, national origin, ethnicity, gender, disability, sexual orientation, political affiliation or religious belief.


$10,000 in prize money will be awarded, but only if there is a qualified applicant or applicants. Winners are expected to use the money to enrich themselves as individuals and thereby as teachers, to stimulate and nourish their own intellects and sensibilities through new experience, for example, study or travel. By feeding their own souls, winners will bring fresh inspiration and insight to their students and colleagues. Prize winners are discouraged from contributing the money, or goods or services purchased with it, to a third party, as a charitable donation. The recipient is solely responsible for any tax consequences arising from receipt of the prize payment.

The successful candidate’s school will receive a $2,000 grant in the candidate’s honor and he/she will be consulted on the allocation of the grant.


The Kapteyn Prize selection committee reviews all applications and finalists are interviewed by telephone. The committee comprises of Kapteyn family members and former Kapteyn Prize winners. Their recommendations are sent to Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation’s Board of Directors for approval. The committee selects the candidate who best meets the vision of the fund and uses the following criteria in its review:

  • Exhibits exemplary character, integrity, honor, and leadership
  • Serves their classroom students in multiple capacities within the shared school community
  • Teaches and guides students by igniting a lifelong love of learning and commitment to personal growth
  • Engages the fullest potential of a student’s developmental trajectories to foster cognitive, social, emotional and physical wellness


  • The Academy at Charlemont, Charlemont, MA
  • Berkshire School, Sheffield, MA
  • Buxton School, Williamstown, MA
  • Hawthorne Valley School, Ghent, NY
  • The Hotchkiss School, Lakeville, CT
  • Housatonic Valley Regional High School, Falls Village, CT
  • Hudson City High School, Hudson, NY
  • Lee High School, Lee, MA
  • Monument Mountain Regional High School, Great Barrington, MA
  • Mount Everett Regional High School, Sheffield, MA
  • Mount Greylock Regional High School, Williamstown, MA
  • Northfield Mount Hermon School, Mount Hermon, MA


Berkshire, Columbia, Northeast Dutchess, Northwest Litchfield

Interest Area


Grant Amount

Up to $10,000


2/15/2025 for nominations

How To Apply

Email Eric Jette at to nominate an educator