Dr. Stephen Zrike Named Receiver of the Holyoke Public Schools

The receiver for the Holyoke Schools District has been named- meet Dr. Stephen K. Zrike Jr.

Commissioner Mitchell Chester appoints Dr. Stephen Zrike as Receiver of Holyoke Public Schools.

Commissioner Mitchell Chester appoints Dr. Stephen Zrike as Receiver of Holyoke Public Schools.

“Today it is my pleasure to introduce to you, Steve Zrike,” began interim Holyoke School District receiver and Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) commissioner Mitchell Chester at a press conference at Holyoke High School this past Monday. Dr. Stephen Zrike will be taking the torch from Chester to become the permanent receiver for Holyoke schools starting July 6.

Holyoke was placed into receivership following its designation as a Level 5 district by the DESE Board.

Zrike is a bilingual, lifelong educator with degrees from Dartmouth College and Harvard University, and has led school turnaround efforts in Chicago, Boston, as well as where he is currently superintendent, Wakefield. He has led 28 urban schools with a high percentage of English-learners to success, and hopes to work with the community to bring that turnaround to Holyoke.

“Over his 17 year career in education, he has worked in urban and suburban school districts as a teacher, as a principal, as a leadership coach, as an administrator, and as a superintendent,” explained Chester. His array of abilities and accomplishments is what made him stand out to Chester as, “[his] top pick for receiver”.

Zrike grew up in Massachusetts with a Cuban mother. His wife’s grandparents are from Holyoke and she has cousins who have graduated from Holyoke High School, and says he knows of the “rich tradition and pride” of the community and plans to become a part of it as receiver.

While Zrike currently does not have any plans, he promises to “listen and learn from the people,” especially the Local Stakeholders group that has recently been formed, as well as draw from background experience and strategies he has found success with, such as engaging guardians with “parent universities,” courses to teach guardians how to best help their children as they pursue an education. He has also made himself accessible in schools and even conducted home visits in order to check up on a student or listen to any concerns.

Zrike is especially focused on early childhood learning, with the creation of an Early Childhood Center and tuition-free kindergarten in Wakefield and universal pre-school opportunities in Chicago. He has found success with his ELL programs in Chicago, and is committed to keeping “the autonomy of teachers intact” and working with them in bettering Holyoke schools.

Overall, Zrike has high hopes for Holyoke; “It’s not going to be easy work… I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think it could be done. I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t think Holyoke had the human capital and talent to be able to be successful.”