2023 Pioneer Valley Excellence in Teaching Awards with five stars
Six Holyoke Public Schools educators were surprised and honored on Friday, March 3, 2023, when their classroom doors were opened by Superintendent Anthony Soto bearing flowers, balloons, and a proclamation from Holyoke Mayor Joshua A. Garcia to let them know they were selected to receive Pioneer Valley Excellence in Teaching Awards this year.

Since 2003, the award has been distributed annually to honor Western Massachusetts educators for their dedication and excellence. More than 100 Western Massachusetts educators are honored each year. This year’s Excellence in Teaching Award winners from Holyoke include:

Jessica Bresnahan, Sullivan School Grade 7 and 8 English language arts teacher

Benito Colon, Holyoke High School North’s sole Spanish III teacher, and 25-year veteran educator

Kimberly Comtois, Lawrence School kindergarten teacher

Jesenia Dejesus, Holyoke Middle School special education teacher educator

Allison Gonzalez, Kelly School grade 3 inclusion teacher

Luis Robles, Holyoke High School Dean math teacher

The six HPS award recipients will be honored during an in-person banquet at the Log Cabin in Holyoke on May 3, where they will each receive an engraved plaque and a check for $250, along with tuition incentives and scholarships offered by seven major colleges and universities in the region—Elms College, Bay Path University, Mount Holyoke College, Springfield College, Western New England University, Westfield State University, and the University of Massachusetts. Winners will also receive memberships at WGBY and access to thousands of digital education resources, along with three-month memberships at the Springfield Jewish Community Center and at one of six regional YMCAs.

All winners are further invited to apply for the selective Classroom Innovator Prize of $250. Created to foster educators’ interest and engagement in Project Based Learning, teachers can submit a project-based learning idea. Up to 15 prizes will be given. All winners interested in this important teaching methodology will be supported by professional development opportunities.

The Excellence in Teaching Awards program, now in its 20th year, is made possible by the Harold Grinspoon Charitable Foundation in partnership with the Irene E. & George A. Davis Foundation.

Other business and community support comes from American International College, Arrha Credit Union, Country Bank, and Meyers Brothers Kalicka.