Pathways student and his grandparents talk with a music teacher during open house

Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES was able to host in-person open houses for multiple programs this fall to provide students’ parents and guardians a chance to experience the school setting, get to know teachers and strengthen the partnership between home and school.

“We know how important it is to a student’s education to have an alliance with the parents,” Herkimer BOCES Principal of Alternative Education Patrick Corrigan said. “Open houses are really one of the most crucial tools we have to get that going in the right direction.”

Herkimer BOCES Special Programs, Valley Pathways in Technology Early College High School and Pathways Academy at Remington open houses all took place this fall.

The Pathways Academy open house in 2020 was held before school started to give families a feel for what school would be like under the then-new COVID-19 regulations, Corrigan said. This year, the schedule and plan for the open house returned to very close to what it was in 2019 – except with asking everyone to wear masks, he said.

“We’re doing the best we can to get back to a normal open house,” Corrigan said. “One of the keys to school success is parent engagement. This is one of many things we do for parent engagement.”

Parent-teacher conferences are another practice at Pathways Academy, and they were conducted virtually last year. The virtual conferences led to increased parent participation, so that might continue for parent-teacher conferences this year, but it’s important for open houses to be held in-person if possible, Corrigan said.

Open houses are a chance for parents and guardians to talk with teachers and administrators in a relaxed atmosphere and at a pace they desire, Corrigan said.

Jeff and Cassie Sweeney, whose grandson Logan Haman goes to Pathways Academy, attended the open house.

“To just find out how he’s doing really,” Jeff Sweeney said. “To tell people to get in touch with me if there are any concerns.”

 Logan is a seventh-grader of Central Valley Academy but goes to school full-time at Pathways Academy.

“They’ve been really fantastic here,” Cassie Sweeney said.

Students at VP-TECH also are at Herkimer BOCES full-time. At a school district, parents might run into teachers at sporting events, concerts and other school activities, so open houses are even more important for VP-TECH to make sure parents get the opportunity to talk to teachers when they might not otherwise be able to, Herkimer BOCES Principal of Technical Education Zane Mahar said.

“They probably won’t see them out and about,” Mahar said. “So this is to try to get them to come out for a meet and greet.”

The VP-TECH open house also includes showcasing drones that students use, highlighting the VP-TECH partnership with the Griffiss Institute Air Force Research Laboratory and more, Mahar said.

This year’s open house was particularly important with new teachers joining VP-TECH this school year, Mahar said.

“We’re also doing it because we have a number of new staff coming aboard,” he said.

Herkimer BOCES Director of Special Education and Alternative Education Roberta Matthews spoke about the Special Programs open house.

“The purpose of the fall open house is to provide families with an opportunity to meet with their child's teacher early on and to learn about what they can expect as the year goes on,” Matthews said.

Teachers typically plan a short presentation that tells a bit about themselves and how they structure their classroom, Matthews said.

“Parents learn about how to best support their child at home,” Matthews said. “The goal is to establish that home-school connection early in the school year in order to optimize success for the child.”



Pathways student and his grandparents talk with a music teacher during open house Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES Pathways Academy at Remington music teacher Laura Maynard (left) speaks to student Logan Haman and his grandparents, Jeff and Cassie Sweeney, during the Pathways Academy Open House on Sept. 30 at the Remington Educational Complex in Ilion. View more photos from Herkimer BOCES fall open houses at


Parents and students visiting tables at Special Programs in WEB Complex lobby
Guests attend the Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES Special Programs Open House on Sept. 16 at the William E. Busacker Complex in Herkimer. View more photos from Herkimer BOCES fall open houses at


Parents, guardians and students sitting at tables at VP-TECH Open House in WEB Complex lobby
Visitors sit at tables during the Herkimer-Fulton-Hamilton-Otsego BOCES Valley Pathways in Technology Early College High School (VP-TECH) Open House on Sept. 29 at the William E. Busacker Complex in Herkimer. View more photos from Herkimer BOCES fall open houses at