Anne Cullen Prize

anne cullen prize

The HPS Anne Cullen Prize Committee is looking for America’s Outstanding Urban Educators

Anne Cullen was a dedicated teacher of Holyoke Public School students for thirty years. Throughout her career as an educator, she exhibited a consistent commitment to strive to give the best to all of her students.


In honor of her example, the Anne Cullen Prize for Teaching Excellence recognizes outstanding teachers in our district and region at the elementary level. Award recipients exemplify and embody the belief that all students can achieve success. Educators chosen for the Anne Cullen Prize will lead classes as part of the Holyoke Public Schools’ Acceleration Academy, a program designed to provide targeted, small-group instruction for a subset of HPS students in grades 3-5.


Recipients of the HPS Anne Cullen Prize will receive an honorarium and the opportunity to teach at the Anne Cullen Vacation Academy.

anne cullen

Purpose of the Anne Cullen Vacation Academy Program

  1. Engage, celebrate and build the capacity of excellent teachers
  2. Provide one week of engaging, targeted, project based instruction that yields striking student growth for students approaching MCAS proficiency.

Contact Us

Robert Arpin
Director of Extended Learning
413-534-2000 x1404

Read what previous winners have said about their experience below...


Katie Plasse, Holyoke

What I believe makes an excellent teacher…

I know the school day doesn’t just end when the bell rings. Building relationships and planning engaging lessons takes time, but I believe it is time well spent.  The students of Holyoke deserve the very best I can give. 


Why I valued teaching within the HPS Vacation Academy…

The Vacation Academy is an extraordinary opportunity for our students to participate in learning that is framed differently than the regular school year. I love meeting new students and teaching with staff from a variety of schools and districts.  Students enjoy working in smaller groups with more individualized attention.  The Vacation Academy is a valuable component of a balanced education.


Katie is a 2017 Pioneer Valley Excellence in Teaching Award recipient, awarded by the Grinspoon Foundation


Debra Blondek, Chicopee

What I believe makes an excellent teacher…

I believe an excellent teacher inspires each student to express their feelings and learn to respect and listen to others.  They are passionate about influencing their students’ lives and understanding the impact they have.


Why I valued teaching within the HPS Vacation Academy…

I valued teaching within the HPS Vacation Academy because it provided an opportunity to support academic learning in a small group setting. It allowed for creative, hands on learning activities that promoted individual student success. The Vacation Academy’s project based learning helped to build student engagement and strengthen student collaboration.


Dean Nash, Holyoke

What I believe makes an excellent teacher…

For me, an excellent teacher starts with the desire to work with children.  One must have a strong understanding of their students, not just in the classroom, but an entire picture of them outside the classroom.  I feel a strong tie to the family goes a long way in the success of a student.

Why I valued teaching within the HPS vacation academy…

I have thoroughly enjoyed working with students in Holyoke, since I started in this district a few years ago.  The teachers I have met have been some of the most outstanding individuals I have met in this profession.  This gives me another opportunity to work with students across the district, which I value.  This is not a job for me; it is more of a calling.  Being part of this program allows me the chance to continue the amazing work this district is doing!

anne cullen prize
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