Family & Community Engagement

Student Enrollment & Family Empowerment Center

Our Center is the main entry point for families to Holyoke Public Schools and a key gateway for information about HPS programs and initiatives. We provide support with the following:

 Family Engagement

Each school is served by a Family Engagement point person who works to support families – build and strengthen their relationship with our schools, help them access information and resources, and develop their leadership and voice.


Family Empowerment

Parent Power Academy

We believe that Holyoke Public Schools and Holyoke families are partners in our children’s success. We also believe in the value of lifelong learning for all members of our school community, which is why we support parents to acquire new tools and skills that will strengthen their families. The Parent Power Academy delivers educational and informational workshops for families at the schools and in neighborhood settings. These workshops are vehicles for parents to make connections with other families as well as with community organizations and service providers. Workshops for families are offered year round on the following topics.

  • Parents as first teachers (includes partnering with teachers, early literacy practices, and supporting your child at home)
  • Family health and nutrition
  • Financial education and career advancement
  • Social and emotional learning
  • School leadership and voice

Parent Leadership and Voice

HPS encourages and embraces the active participation and contributions of parents to improve and support our schools. There are multiple vehicles for parents to exercise their leadership and voice across our district:

 School Site Councils are organized by the principals at each school as an advisory group pursuant to Massachusetts General Laws. The councils assist principals with identifying student needs, establishing educational goals for the school, developing improvement plans, and reviewing the school budget. School site councils include teachers elected by their peers, parents selected by a recognized parent organization or elected by school families, as well as students at the high school level. The meetings are open and its minutes are available to the entire school community.

Contact your school principal to get information on your school council’s meeting calendar. Don’t hesitate to contact our department if interested in learning more about school site councils or acquiring skills to effectively participate in your school’s council.

Parent Teacher Organizations (PTO’s) at each of our schools are independent, critical vehicles for parents to exercise leadership and voice in support of their children’s education. Participation in the PTO should be open to all parents and guardians of children in a school. PTOs in Holyoke have historically supported schools through:

  • Representing and advocating the parents’ perspective before school officials
  • Fundraising to cover specific school needs
  • Providing rich extracurricular and enrichment activities for students
  • Engaging and sharing information with families to strengthen school connections
  • Supporting the celebration of school spirit and pride
  • Coordinating parent volunteers
  • Recognizing teachers and staff

School PTO’s are encouraged to work with school leaders and the Family Engagement teams at the schools to identify key needs in the turnaround plan or in the schools where they can focus part of their efforts during each year.

Parent Leader Groups or Parent Volunteer Teams – Parent leaders in some schools have formed volunteer teams or groups of parents to support the school or particular grades or classrooms. Contact the Family Engagement team at your school to learn how you can join or contribute as a parent volunteer.

Family Engagement in the Holyoke Early Learning Initiative (HELI) – See information below.

Districtwide Parent Leader Group – meets with the Receiver/Superintendent every month to provide input and receive updates on the district’s turnaround process. Information obtained at these meetings is shared with parents at their schools. Contact our department to learn who represents the schools at these meetings.

Parent Concerns and Feedback – HPS welcomes parents’ feedback, questions, and recognition for our staff by contacting our school leaders or the Family & Community Engagement Department. We appreciate your thoughts and partnership as we continue implementing our turnaround plan and realizing our vision of “a pathway for every student.”

We encourage families to establish regular communication with school leaders and explore all possibilities to contribute to student success at the school level. We recognize sometimes families feel dissatisfied after having worked with teachers and school leaders to resolve a particular situation related to their child, which leads them to want to raise their concerns to the school district office.  If there are issues that remain unresolved at the school level, you may file a written complaint form with the Chief of Family & Community Engagement at the Student Enrollment & Family Empowerment Center or with the Student Services Coordinator at the Department of Pupil Services.

Please note that most of these complaints are referred back to the schools to be addressed, while some are referred to specific department leaders or the Superintendent for investigation or review. Although the process may take time, Holyoke Public Schools is committed to responding to parent concerns and complaints in a timely manner in order to strengthen the school-family partnership and keep students engaged in school.

If you have concerns about issues related to school-based operations, please contact the school principal or the Student Enrollment & Family Empowerment Center at 413-534-2000 Extension 1100.

View and download suggestions for How To Get the Most Out of Your Next Parent-Teacher Conferences | En Espanol

Community Engagement

Holyoke Early Learning Initiative (HELI) is a citywide effort founded in 2013 that brings schools, families and community partners together to dramatically improve the reading proficiency of our youngest children. Everyone is being asked to do something and we all have something to do to reach our GOAL: rapid and sustained improvement in reading proficiency by the 3rd grade. As a coalition, we have deployed multiple strategies that are proving successful, from engaging families with children from 0-8 years old in early literacy practices, to strengthening the program designs of literacy programs across the city and developing citywide collaborative workgroups.

We want more families to join HELI and increase the frequency of what they do at home to support their child’s literacy. We invite and support parents to do “One Thing a Day” to help boost your child’s literacy skills!

Please contact our department or Family Engagement staff at your school to learn how to join a HELI Parent Group in your school or to get tips and tools for literacy activities you can start doing with your child at home.

 Community Outreach – We welcome opportunities to engage with community partners and participate in community events or neighborhood meetings across the city where we can meet and talk to families.  Please contact our department if you would like HPS to join your event or make a presentation on a particular topic.

HPS also welcomes partnership opportunities in support of student learning and our families. Please contact us to learn about our strategic priorities and current initiatives and how we may work together.

Jose Bou
Equity, Family and Community Partnerships Manager
57 Suffolk Street, First Floor

Rebecca Lamb
Enrollment Center Manager
57 Suffolk Street, First Floor

Department Phone: (413) 534-2000, Select “Option 1”

group of student working together at a table covered in colorful papers
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