What People Say

Everyone Has A Voice

From the students and families in our schools, to the teachers and administrators in our Zone, to the partners and leaders in our community, people have a lot of great things to say about SEZP.

I am so excited about SEZP’s strong commitment to students and their families, and I'm forever thankful to the SEZP Special Education Leadership Team for going above and beyond to meet the needs of my child.

Mirella SantiagoSpringfield Legacy Academy (Parent)

Participating in a recent parent panel made me feel heard and extremely supported! I am looking forward to the great things that lie ahead.

LaChanda VazquezForest Park Middle School (Parent)

I like Rise Prep Academy because the staff goes above and beyond their job description to make the students feel safe, so they can succeed now and in the future.

LusliannRise Prep Academy (Parent)

For too long, communities had to conform to the schools, and we thought it was time for schools to conform to the community. And the Family Empowerment Council is a space where we can come together and work in partnership with one another.

DeOtis WilliamsCo-Leader of the Family Empowerment Council

Positive family engagement is vital to how well the school runs. Families need to feel valued, heard, and respected within our schools. It is important that we realize our families are the experts and the first teachers of their students. When schools and families create that positive partnership, everyone wins.

Tyeshia WeirCo-Leader of the Family Empowerment Council

Teachers within the Empowerment Zone get to make decisions on so many key aspects of a school's internal plan: everything from start and end times of the day, the school calendar, extended learning plans, professional development needs, and working conditions, to setting a school's priorities based on the existing data from the year before.

Emma SanchezEmpowerment Coach, Duggan Academy

It’s the innovation that educators are crying out for. We are highlighting the art of teaching and it empowers teachers to fall in love with teaching again. I truly know that I’m affecting real change, not only in my classroom but in the whole school. That kind of autonomy and investment creates an environment where everybody is engaged.

On’DrayaSpringfield Educator

One of the things that I love about the Empowerment Zone is the opportunity to collaborate with other schools and just make those connections that enrich not only my own development and experience, but also the experience of our kids.

Carolina MartinezTeacher and SEL Principal in Residence, Emergence Academy

In the past there was no such thing as “coaching.” You were handed a book, you were appointed to your classroom, you were told to teach, and during the evaluation process, it was either yay or nay, good or bad, and that was that. Here at Commerce, because of the coaching model, I believe our teachers feel a lot more supported.

Sonia Dinall, Ph.D.Principal, High School of Commerce

We're so excited for the support from the Springfield Empowerment Zone Partnership and Springfield Public Schools to be able to build a welcoming and loving community for students from all over the world.

Amanda GauthierPrincipal, Emergence Academy

The Equitable Pathway to Leadership program has provided the opportunity for black and brown educators not only to have access to leadership roles, but also to act as mentors and guides for the next generation of diverse education leaders.

Paul NealExecutive Principal, High School of Commerce

I've worked in traditional and charter school models. One of the aspects that I love about the Zone model is having a coach who provides regular guidance and support — from strategic planning to operational tactics. As an Executive Principal overseeing three schools, I then share these leadership skills with my principals.

Michael CalvaneseExecutive Principal - Duggan Academy, Kennedy Middle School & Academy at Kiley

For SEZP, it’s all about getting down to the school level and empowering the people in that school to succeed.

Colleen CurranCo-Executive Director, SEZP

The empowerment zone model pushes the decisions on what's best for the kids to those closest to the kids. They are making the real decisions about how best to accelerate improvement.

Matthew BrunellCo-Executive Director, SEZP

The key to the Springfield Empowerment Zone is the balance between the unprecedented levels of autonomy that district schools are being granted here and the necessity to have a good performance framework to track outcomes.

Chris GabrieliChair, SEZP Board of Directors

Teacher voice is crucial in driving meaningful and lasting change within SEZP schools. Teachers have a "say" in strategic and operational decisions that improves academics outcomes and teacher satisfaction.

James MortonSEZP Board of Directors; President & CEO, YMCA of Greater Boston

What we were doing before was not working for these schools and we needed to try something different. We wanted schools to have flexibility and accountability but we needed to do it in partnership with the state, union, and community. And we did.

Daniel WarwickSuperintendent, Springfield Public Schools

The partnership with the District and Zone works in a way where we feel there's collaboration, professionalism and respect. We can have open-ended conversations, agree to disagree, and come out shaking hands.

Tracy Little-SasaneckiPresident, Springfield Education Association (Teachers' Union)

There are very few high schools in Massachusetts where students have an extended day, take college courses and earn free college credits. The fact we have this in Springfield, an area where many students are first-generation college students and for whom English is not their first language, is amazing.

Mary Jo MarionAVP Urban Affairs, Worcester State University

One of the programs that I think has turned out to be quite successful is the Empowerment Zone that they set up in Springfield…that’s a model that the teachers like, the administrators like, and has shown real progress in helping those kids improve their scores.

Charlie BakerGovernor of Massachusetts

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