We’ve been asked a lot why we decided to launch LightHouse in Holyoke.
There are a couple of reasons why Holyoke presents a great opportunity for this program. First, teens should have the opportunity to choose from a variety of educational options, being able to decide for themselves and their family what is the best fit. In and around Holyoke there are public schools, charter schools, vocational schools, and private schools. There are some teens who are homeschooled. But there isn’t an option in Holyoke like LightHouse. We saw a chance to create an option that is personalized and that offers teens the chance to be in the driver’s seat of their education. We feel that LightHouse can help fill that gap.
Also, we’ve been really focused on building LightHouse so that it really serves Holyoke and its residents. This means that every step of the way we invite participation and feedback from the community. Even though we are using the North Star model, we are an independent program. That means that we can build LightHouse to fit the needs and interests of our teens and families. As we talked with people throughout Holyoke this past fall, we were excited by the enthusiasm we heard, and the ideas and dreams people shared with us. We see so many possibilities for working together with other programs and local folks, all of which will make LightHouse a really unique and exciting place to be.
We both live in the Valley, and as we considered starting a program in the area, we were drawn to Holyoke. Holyoke has opportunity—there is desire for Holyoke to thrive, building on great work that has already been done by so many community members. This enthusiasm leads to an impressive amount of collaboration across the city which is uncommon in many places—it provides a lot of chances for us to create shared programs, shared services, and all sorts of connections we haven’t even envisioned yet. We see LightHouse as a part of a growing downtown scene that, we hope, is evolving to meet the needs and interests of city residents.
We want LightHouse to be a partner in helping Holyoke teens to build themselves a successful future. We have been energized by the connections we are making in the process (check out our list of collaborator programs and friends on our “people” page!), and we look forward to continuing to build connections and benefit from the wisdom our teens, families, and community partners will bring!
– Josiah and Catherine