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Morse announces three new school initiatives

Date: 9/10/2015

HOLYOKE – Mayor Alex Morse has proposed three initiatives that he believes will advance the progress in Holyoke schools.

Morse has been visiting Holyoke schools with School Receiver Dr. Stephen Zrike and said, “The foundation we’ve laid in the past four years has put our schools in a position to thrive. Dr. Zrike has made it very clear that our new partnership with the state will serve to accelerate these efforts.”

Morse has proposed “an urban teacher academy for Holyoke; a pathway for paraprofessional development initiative; and a partnership with Holyoke Community College (HCC) that enables high school students to earn college credit, perhaps even their Associates Degree, by the time they graduate.”

The mayor told Reminder Publications HCC has already expressed an interest in participating in the urban teacher academy. Under the program, students from Holyoke High School and Dean Technical High School interested in teaching would become receive a tuition-free college education provided they become licensed teacher in the city’s public schools for at least five years after graduation.

Morse said the task ahead is to identify a four-year college to partner with the city on the initiative. He added the initiative hopefully would be funded without taxpayer dollars.

The paraprofessional development initiative would be a way for the city to have a greater diversity in its teaching staff, Morse said. Under that proposed program paraprofessionals would go on to earn their teaching degree.

Morse called the initiative “internal professional development” that would create a “pipeline” for teachers in the city.

He said, “An urban teacher academy would attract more teachers with even greater familiarity with our student body to return to the school system and contribute. The paraprofessional development initiative would help us retain people who have already been working in the schools to contribute as certified teachers. Having people who are already familiar with our schools and our kids in the classroom would be a tremendous step forward for the district.”

Funding for paraprofessional development as well as the program in which high school students could work on their Associates Degree has not been identified.