Academics

High-Quality Instruction

In our pursuit to provide high-quality instruction for all, we have invested in recruiting and retaining top-quality educators who inspire bold thinking, recognize student potential, and encourage all students to work towards their goals. To support the strengths and interests of students, we are providing new experiences and expanding choice programs.

  • We are re-imagining the middle school experience as we create distinct grade 6-8 middle schools for the 2023-2024 school year, ensuring equity in access to high-quality programming that meets the academic and social emotional needs of our middle level learners across the district. Additionally, to support our move to the middle school model, we have received approval from the Massachusetts School Building Authority (MSBA) to study options for constructing a new middle school building at the current Peck location. 

  • The dual language two-way immersion program that promotes grade-level academic achievement, bilingualism, biliteracy and multicultural competence has been expanded to include PreK-8 students at Metcalf, PreK-5 students at EN White, and K-2 students at the Kelly School. We are excited to share that we will expand our program to the high school level beginning in Fall of 2023 as Holyoke High School North prepares to welcome their first grade 9 class of DL learners. Additionally, free preschool programs are now available in most of our neighborhood schools and boast family-friendly scheduling options.

The high school experience has been redesigned with the development of a series of thematic academies that will provide opportunities for students to develop a personalized learning path toward college, career or both. Built upon choice, and access to advanced educational opportunities, the plan deepens student engagement and provides families and business and civic leaders explicit opportunities to partner with educators to help guide students’ career and college plans, as well as strengthen our local economy. Importantly, our academy structure will prepare our students for the global economy and a society that demands more critical thinking and higher levels of educational achievement. It is a structure that gives our students a competitive advantage, ensuring they graduate with stackable credentials sought after by employers and colleges and universities alike. In addition to these North campus academies, high school redesign reflects a renewed commitment to vocational education on the Dean campus.

Data and Accountability

  • Instruction in HPS is aligned to the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks and the Common Core State Standards. These standards are academically rigorous, cohesive, and comprehensive. Units of Study and Lesson Plan design include the learning expectations that are revealed within the Standards.

  • Assessments in HPS are designed and implemented to provide sustained checks of student learning. Educators utilize data analysis protocols to reflect on previous instruction, and to inform future student learning needs. Formative, Summative, and Benchmark (Interim) assessments embed the learning expectations of the Common Core State Standards.

  • Data and Accountability are explicitly aligned to the instruction and assessments for our students. For example, information from the students’ STAR Assessments supports teachers and school leaders to determine which students are gaining ground or falling behind in standards mastery, where to focus instruction, which may require intervention, and whether the curriculum and interventions are making a difference.

The Academic Team

Rebecca Thompson

Rebecca Thompson, Executive Director of Academics

Rebecca Thompson oversees curriculum, instruction and assessment for grades PreK-12 and reports to the Assistant Superintendent. From 2020-2022, Ms. Thompson served as principal of McMahon School, embracing HPS’ partnership with the Relay Graduate School of Education and leading her students and staff to improved outcomes for learners. For the 15 years prior, Ms. Thompson served as a teacher, instructional coach, and school leader supporting grades PreK-12. She is an experienced leader who has developed big-picture systems for teaching and learning.

Jennifer Albury

Jennifer Albury, Director of Multilingual Education

Jennifer Albury joined Holyoke Public Schools as a special education teacher at Morgan School in 2015 and moved into the ESL department in 2016 as a 7th grade ESL teacher at STEM Academy. In 2020, Ms. Albury moved into ESL instructional coaching. Before coming to Holyoke, Ms. Albury created and ran a language school in Guadalajara, Mexico where she lived with her family for 11 years. She is dedicated to celebrating and accelerating multilingual education through ESL, bilingual education and heritage language. 

Chankyna Aribo

Chankyna Aribo,  Associate Director of Early Literacy

Chankyna “Kyna” Aribo joined Holyoke Public Schools in 2020 as a K-2 ELA instructional coach for Morgan and Lawrence Schools.  She began her education career in Atlanta, GA, where she taught for seven years. For the next five years, she worked for the Rollins Center for Language and Literacy, providing consulting services around coaching, school turnaround, and PreK-3e ELA programming. Her love for literacy began when she was young; as a daughter of Nigerian and Cambodian immigrant parents, her family spent many weekends at the library, where she got lost in books. Kyna is passionate about empowering students with the life-changing skill of learning how to read and write. As Dr. Alfred Tatum said, “Reading puts children in contact with other people; writing puts them in contact with themselves.” She wants students to know that their knowledge and window to the world can never be limited once they know how to read.  She is excited and committed to sharing the joy and power of literacy with staff, students, and their families.

Dr. Tara Brandt

Dr. Tara Brandt, Director of Mathematics

Dr. Brandt grew up in neighboring Chicopee, and has family ties with Holyoke dating back to her great-grandparents. After attending Columbia University, she fell into teaching in 2002 and has worked in the field since then. Over these 20 years, she spent 10 of those as a teacher in Chicopee before moving onto district-level roles in Mathematics and STEM leadership for several nearby school systems. Meanwhile, she attended Elms College for her Masters and CAGS, and later UMass (Amherst) for her Ed.D. She came on board here in Holyoke during the summer of 2018. Tara stays connected with the local math community as the Coordinator of the Western Massachusetts Mathematics Partnership (WMMP), a non-profit that provides professional development and networking opportunities for educators across the K-16+ spectrum. She also serves as an adjunct professor, and is certified to lead specialized early numeracy courses through the internationally recognized Math Recovery Council.

Laura Espinoza Mufson

Laura Espinoza Mufson, Associate Director of Multilingual Education

Laura Espinoza Mufson has been the Associate Director of Multilingual Learning for HPS since 2021.  Before Holyoke, Laura taught dual language for students in grades 4-5 in the Washington, DC area, teaching in English and Spanish. She was also the Instructional Lead for her school and led many district-wide initiatives.  She focuses her work on Culturally Responsive and Social Justice focused pedagogy.  Laura attended Mt. Holyoke College and is excited to be back in the Pioneer Valley. She is a fierce advocate for Dual Language programs, because of her personal experience being raised bilingual and bicultural and her dedication to Latinx communities.

Eric Levine

Eric Levine, Director of Science

Eric Levine joined the Holyoke Public Schools community in 2018 as the Instructional Coach for Science at Holyoke High School North. In 2022, he marked his 25th year in education. Eric brings experience as a science coach, a middle and high school science teacher, and a  wilderness guide to the his position of Director of Science for Holyoke Public Schools. He is originally from Massachusetts, and has spent time working and living throughout New England as well as western New York State, New York City and the Pacific Northwest. Eric holds an M.Ed.  in Curriculum and Instruction, an M.S. in Environmental Education and a B.A. in Biology and Music.

Amy  Roque

Amy Roque, Associate Director of Early Childhood Education

Amy has three decades of preschool experience and has held a wide variety of roles and responsibilities. While putting herself through college, she was an assistant teacher and learned the valuable lessons of what it takes to be a qualified preschool teacher. Her fondest and most treasured preschool teaching experience was working at Mont Marie Child Care Center in Holyoke where she taught PreK for 10 years. She has also been a program center director, paraprofessional, special education teacher, and Child Find coordinator for Holyoke Public Schools. Her experience working with community organizations, strengthening family connections, and mentoring teachers is her motivation to create an impactful preschool experience for Holyoke’s youngest learners. Amy earned her Associate’s Degree in early childhood education from Springfield Technical Community College. She earned both her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree in Education from Our Lady of the Elms College.

Andrea Salvas

Andrea Salvas, Director of English Language Arts

Andrea began her career in education in 2005 as a high school English language Arts teacher in Springfield. She earned her BA in English and education from Our Lady of the Elms College and her MA in English from Westfield State College. She also holds a CAGS in School Leadership. For more than 10 years,  she has served as an academic school administrator coach teachers to implement practices that best meet the instructional needs of a diverse community. She joined HPS in 2017 as an assistant principal and now serves as ELA director with a focus on providing students opportunities to think critically, read independently, write skillfully, and engage in thoughtful academic discourse.