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Holyoke school overseer lands Salem superintendent job

  • Holyoke Receiver-Superintendent Stephen Zrike. HOLYOKE PUBLIC SCHOOLS

Staff Writer
Published: 2/18/2020 6:17:29 PM

HOLYOKE — Stephen Zrike, the superintendent and receiver of Holyoke schools, was recently named the incoming superintendent of Salem Public Schools.

Zrike announced in December that he would be leaving his Holyoke position at the end of the school year — a timeline he told the Gazette he is still committed to. He said that he applied to the Salem position only a day or two after announcing his resignation, and that Salem’s School Committee moved quickly through its selection process. Zrike was named as the next Salem superintendent on Feb. 13 after a unanimous vote by the School Committee.

“The opportunity was a good one in a community I thought was a good match,” he said.

It has been five years since the state education commissioner announced that state was placing Holyoke schools in receivership, and that Zrike would be receiver. 

When he announced his resignation, Zrike said he had fulfilled the five-year commitment he had made when he took on the role. He also spoke about the importance of being closer to his family, who live north of Boston.

“I’m looking to be somewhere for the next seven to 10 years as a leader, and my family isn’t going to move from where we are,” he said in a phone interview Tuesday.

In his new job, Zrike said his commute will take only about 30 minutes. That is very important, he said, but so too is getting to be a superintendent again in a district that felt like “the right match.”

“They have a lot of resources and a strong commitment to education,” he said. “A lot of the same challenges that we saw in Holyoke, though certainly not at the same level.”

Zrike previously served as superintendent in Wakefield as well as chief of elementary schools in the Pilsen-Little Village Network in the Chicago Public Schools.He has also worked as principal of William Blackstone Elementary School, William Ohrenberger Elementary School and John Philbrick Elementary School in the Boston Public Schools system.

The state has plans to name a new receiver in Holyoke by July 1, and Zrike said he will still be leading the district in the meantime.

“My commitment to Holyoke is to the end of the school year, and Salem knows that,” he said.

Dusty Christensen can be reached at

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