Each school year employees of the Holyoke School District recognize excellence in the district. Three awards are given annually for each of the following categories which acknowledge some of the key attributes of excellence in the education profession. These are called the Emerald Awards.
The Heart Award
This is open to any employee who demonstrates exceptional caring for a student, student’s family, a group of students or colleagues. The purpose of the award is to demonstrate that many of our employees are in this business to make a difference in the lives of others.
Innovator of the Year Award
This is open to any employee who has taken a risk to implement some new initiative, program or strategy based on research or evidence of success. The purpose of this award is to demonstrate how we value innovation and risk taking in this district, and that takes these pioneers in a district to make progress.
Leader Among Us Award
This award is open to any employee who provides excellent leadership. Leadership may come in many forms such as: many contributions to committees, mentoring, leading a group through a particular issue, speaking on behalf of others, finding a solution, advocating, inspiring, or any form of leadership. The purpose is to demonstrate that leadership comes at all levels.
Nomination and Awards
The Nomination Process is very simple. Only an employee of the school district may nominate any classified or licensed employee. The nomination should be in the form of a narrative, limited to one page, telling a compelling story as to why his or her fellow employee meets one of the criteria described above. The community sponsors will select the award recipients.
The emerald has a terrific folklore throughout history and in many cultures. The emerald has represented such attributes as: active intelligence, the promise of good luck, the ability to enhance our well-being, as well as the color of Venus who was the goddess of beauty and love. The green of the emerald is the color of life and of the springtime, which comes round again and again. However, this spring our world was introduced to a new normal as we began to adjust to live during the COVID-19 Pandemic. April 23, 2020 was supposed to be a day when our school would have come together to celebrate excellence in our profession yet, we were all told to stay home.
Just because we were at home that didn’t mean that three quarters of the school year had not already happened. Three individuals were selected for the awards and honored by articles in the Holyoke Enterprise. Once restrictions allowed for limited gatherings, small receptions were held for each recipient.