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Holyoke Public Schools awarded $1,000,000 by Barr Foundation to continue high school redesign work
HOLYOKE, MA – Holyoke Public Schools (HPS) is proud to announce that it was recently awarded a $750,000 grant from the Barr Foundation to support the continued implementation and support of the high school redesign model that includes strategies for improving the instruction and services offered, and providing students with the skills and tools they need to be successful in school now, and later in college and their careers. The grant will support the continued implementation of the high school’s early college program, the North campus career academies, support for instructional improvement, time for curriculum revision and implementation, and its teacher coaching and professional learning. HPS also received $250,000 in grant funding from the Barr Foundation early this summer for continued program development for students who are significantly off-track to graduate.
“We are extremely grateful to the Barr Foundation for their generosity in awarding these grants to the Holyoke Public Schools,” stated Holyoke Public Schools Superintendent/ Receiver Dr. Alberto Vázquez Matos. “These funds will allow us to continue the important high school redesign work that is taking place in our district. We appreciate Barr’s partnership, support, and investment in our students as we continue to prepare them for success in college and career.”
At Holyoke High School, the school mission is to graduate all students prepared to succeed in the college and career pathway of their choice. The high school’s redesign includes several core innovations aimed at increasing equity, opportunity and performance such as:
- Incorporating the Dean, North, and Opportunity Academy campuses under the supervision of the Executive Principal has supported a tighter level of coordination and collaboration across campuses, and more equitable distribution of resources amongst the three campuses
- Launching Freshmen teams and Sophomore Academies linked to key career fields for Western Massachusetts,
- Launching an Early College program linked to our sophomore academies with partners Holyoke Community College and Westfield State University,
- Creating a Work-Based Learning program to support student internships and co-ops as credit-bearing experiences designed to give their academic work meaning and relevance.
- Growing the Dean campus enrollment, which is expected to more than triple its 2017-18 enrollment numbers next year.
“We’re thrilled to receive these funds from the Barr Foundation to continue the important work of becoming a better school, one that welcomes every student and family and offers them world-class opportunities and support, ” stated Holyoke High School (HHS) Executive Principal Stephen Mahoney. “We are grateful to the Foundation for the constancy of its generosity and support. Barr has proved once again that it is a foundation committed to real change and to the fact that real change comes from consistent focus and effort over an extended period of time. Its past and ongoing support has been and will be critical to the significant gains HHS has made in renewing our vocational program on the Dean campus, our graduation and drop-out rates, our expansion of early college and advanced placement courses to all students but especially students of color, and the expansion of our student support programs.”
Holyoke Public Schools is transforming the high school experience to ensure that every student has a high-quality educational option, with a focus on college and careers for all students. Its innovative High School Redesign Plan includes strategies for improving the instruction and services offered, and providing students with the skills and tools they need to be successful in school now, and later in college and their careers. The high school redesign structure empowers students as self-directed learners ready for 21st-century workplace and college rigor. The plan, developed by nearly 100 educators, students, community members, and national experts, including support from the Barr Foundation, is organized around an academy structure designed to provide “personalized learning pathways” for all students.
“I have had spectacular teachers during my time at HPS,” shared HHS Class of 2020 graduate Jack Shea. “And some of them I have to thank for where I am today. Going to Harvard has been an aspiration for the past few years, and I believe I made it because my parents taught me to strive for the best and because my friends and community at HHS have always been supportive.”
In the past four years Holyoke High School has dramatically improved its graduation rate by 10 points, its drop-out rate by 53 percent, the demographics of its advanced learning classes and programs (85 percent increase in the number of students enrolled in college prep programming), and the “on-track” rate of its 9th and 10th graders. The school’s internship and co-op program has increased from 8 to nearly 110 students.