Holyoke teachers told to ignore any state labels
By NATALIA E. ARBULÚ Staff writer
HOLYOKE - Schools Superintendent Eduardo B. Carballo urged teachers yesterday to
continue their hard work on behalf of students and ignore any
labels the state may attach to the district.
More than 800 administrators and teachers gathered at Holyoke High School
yesterday for the annual convocation marking a new school year. Classes begin
Carballo told the crowd that raw Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System
test scores showed third-graders' reading scores had improved for the second
consecutive year and that other test scores, which will be released next month,
also show improvement.
"It takes time to turn a school district around, it doesn't happen overnight,"
Carballo asked teachers to concentrate on what happens in their classrooms and
leave the political fighting with the state Board of Education to him.
The board is evaluating Holyoke and other districts, but has yet to declare any
The state Education Department is considering forming a partnership with Holyoke
schools whether or not the district is declared to be underperforming.
"The greatest thing we can count on is our own strength," Carballo said.
Carballo, who came to the United States in 1962 from Cuba, shared with teachers
his experience living in a Bedford orphanage with other Cuban refugees.
Although they knew no Spanish, Carballo's teachers made him feel welcome with
friendly smiles and by having their students help the new classmates when
Carballo asked teachers to make English learners feel welcome in the classroom
and use the bilingual staff that is available to them.
"Have high expectations, because we're smart. You need to challenge students
that come from a background or language other than English," he said.
Mayor Michael J. Sullivan told teachers that he was not scared of any challenge
because he felt teachers and staff had met the human challenge of caring and
"You've made a difference in their lives," Sullivan said.
Sullivan called Holyoke teachers the best staff in the commonwealth.
"I am honored to be the mayor of a city that is socially responsible," he said.
Virginia P. Rojas, who has a doctorate in education, was the convocation's
Rojas travels the world developing language programs and conducting professional
training. She is currently working with the Ministry of Education's Model
Schools in Abu Dhabi and the United Arab Emirates and American-sponsored schools
in South America and Asia.