HEC Academy

HEC Academy is a therapeutic, public day special education program for youth in grades 9-12 who are eligible to receive services via an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Our students typically present with social-emotional challenges, learning disabilities, ADHD, and/or Autism Spectrum Disorder. Additionally, we have experienced success in supporting students experiencing depression, anxiety, and related patterns of school refusal.

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We Believe Every Student Can Learn and Succeed

The Collaborative for Educational Services has been providing leadership in special education since 1974, designing student programs and supports for learners with diverse and highly individualized needs. CES special education programs are approved by the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

Our school provides a structured, consistent, and emotionally supportive environment that utilizes a positive behavior reinforcement system intended to meet the needs of a wide array of learners. 

At HEC Academy, we believe in the inherent potential and capacity of our students to learn, grow, and develop to the best of their ability. To accomplish this, we provide a learning community that offers a broad range of evidence-based academic and therapeutic supports for our students that are strengths-based, empowering, and affirmative in nature.

We are a safe, diverse, and inclusive community which welcomes all students and supports the individual expression of our students’ identities.

Our community commitment to social justice is foundational to our work at HEC Academy, for staff, students, and families. 

Teenager with guitar

The Experience

We have a team approach to meeting the needs of our students, and as such, our educators, clinicians, support staff, and administration all work together toward this end. As part of this process, HEC Academy maintains frequent and transparent communication with our families, districts, caregivers, and ancillary support staff to ensure an integrated and whole-team approach. As needed, we also utilize collaborative problem-solving methods with our students to address challenges and to promote growth and independence.

Students work individually and in small groups on academics, social skills, recreation, and community service, and earn credits toward high school graduation from their sending schools. We work diligently with our students to provide them with the tools, knowledge, and support they need to fully reach their potential, both in school and in the community at large.

Hours and Location

  • Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday: 9:00 – 3:30
  • Wednesday: 9:00 – 12:45 (early release every week)

*Extended year services are available based on the student’s IEP

HEC Academy is located at 228 Pleasant Street, Northampton, MA.

For Parents and Guardians

For those with students currently enrolled at HEC Academy, please find the documents and forms required for the 2023-2024 school year at the links below. 

The collaboration between the educators and the clinical providers serves to facilitate student growth in a global manner beyond just moving them toward graduation. I honestly feel that HEC Academy has become one of the strongest programs in the Pioneer Valley for students with an emotional disability.


— Director of Student Services, Public School District 

These past two years at HEC have made my student so much stronger—academically, socially and emotionally—and more resilient and ready to be successful..Thank you for your patience and compassion and remarkable skills at working effectively with young adults who are having challenges finding their way in the world. I’m deeply grateful and in awe of what you do every day. 


— Educational Advocate

You have worked so conscientiously, creatively, and with verve to create a learning and self-reflective school where kids can be themselves and be celebrated, supported, and taught academic subjects. From day one last fall, [our daughter] has had a chance, over and over, to reach for academic and emotional success while staying grounded in her own physical experience of being herself, a unique individual on this planet. 


— HEC Academy Parent

HEC Academy Services

Academics and Literacy

HEC Academy has two licensed special educators, a licensed reading specialist, and four licensed content teachers in the areas of ELA, Math, Science, and History. Our reading specialist, also a licensed special educator, utilizes a structured literacy approach based on the science of reading. Our teaching staff works collaboratively to ensure appropriate accommodations and modifications are in place for each student’s IEP and to provide an integrated approach that allows students to successfully access academic content.


Each student is assigned a chromebook and is assigned a HEC Academy-specific email to access our Google Workspace Apps, including Google Classroom and Google Docs.  All students also have access to the assistive technology program Read & Write Gold, which provides both speech-to-text and text-to-speech options.

Academic Support and MCAS

HEC Academy students receive direct academic support throughout the day (small group or 1:1) from special educators, content teachers, and educational support staff. Students who require literacy intervention receive pullout instruction and consultation in areas of identified need.

HEC Academy administers MCAS in accordance with state guidelines, and we support students in preparing to take the MCAS. Juniors and seniors in good standing have the opportunity to experience dual enrollment with Holyoke Community College (HCC).

Related Services

HEC Academy works closely with sending school districts to ensure that any related services on a student’s IEP (e.g. speech, occupational therapy, etc.) are provided in accordance with the IEP.

Counseling/Therapeutic Support

HEC Academy therapeutic services are highly individualized to the unique social-emotional needs of each student. Our clinicians are licensed mental health professionals who provide evidence-based treatment grounded in the principles of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT helps students understand that their thoughts, feelings, and actions are connected.

Is HEC Academy a Match for My Student?

Our students have had difficulty experiencing and achieving success in a traditional school setting, and have demonstrated the need for more intensive levels of academic, social, and emotional support than most schools can provide.

We provide programming for up to (30) high school students in grades 9-12. Academy students are individuals who have IEPs in place from their sending districts and who test within the average range on psychoeducational evaluations.

Typically, our students present with social-emotional disabilities, learning disabilities, ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and/or patterns of school refusal related to depression and anxiety.

image of Tessa Santor standing against a brick building

Enrolling in HEC Academy

To be enrolled in or referred for CES Programs and Services, students are screened at the request of the Special Education Director or Department in the student’s local public school district, and upon receipt of the referral packet by CES.

Parents who may be interested in CES Programs for their child should contact the Special Education Director in their local public school system.

Once a referral is received at CES, the administrative team will screen the potential student and will contact the Special Education Director of the referring town to confirm the appropriateness of the student for enrollment. School staff wishing to arrange a visit to a particular program prior to a referral should contact the Special Education Program Director at CES.

Academy staff work very hard to make sure that HEC is a great match for your student’s needs. HEC Academy has a well-designed referral and selection process, including an intake appointment which the parents and student must attend.  The appointment includes a presentation of the program, a tour of the school site or program, and an opportunity to talk with staff. Ultimately, recommendations for the optimal student support come as a result of the student’s IEP, evaluation of the student’s needs, and the team process.

District Referrals should be sent by schools and school districts via this link

*If you do not already have a user account, please contact Michelle Geoghegan, mgeoghegan@collaborative.org, to set up an account and get login credentials.

For information, contact:

Sherry L. Smith, M.Ed

Sherry Smith is the Director of Special Education for CES. Sherry has been with CES since 1999, and has served in a variety of roles within the special education department, including paraprofessional, teacher, coordinator, and special education director. Sherry is passionate about seeing the joy and pride that the experience of success brings to our students.

Position: Director of Special Education

Email: ssmith@collaborative.org

Phone: 413.588.5266

Pedro Gomes, M.Ed

Pedro Gomes is the Assistant Director of Special Education for CES. Prior to his current role, Pedro worked in the classroom as a special education teacher supporting students in a range of academic areas. Be it the further understanding of basic math facts, an introduction to Shakespeare, or improving social interactions, Pedro has always wanted to make learning accessible to students and he brings that experience to his current role. Pedro is dedicated to helping students develop the skills to become positive members of the larger community once they leave HEC Academy. 

Position: Assistant Director of Special Education

Email: pgomes@collaborative.org

Phone: 413.588.5266

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