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Holyoke teachers told to ignore any state labels
The Republican

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 Tuesday.

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,"
he said.

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 as "underperforming."

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 possible.

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 helping students.

"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 keynote speaker.

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.