Rocketship Education Celebrates 10 Years of Changing Lives

A decade has now passed since Rocketship Education opened its first location in San Jose, California. It was recently featured in an article published by The 74 in honor of its 10-year anniversary of offering personalized education to young children. Preston Smith, one of the founders and current CEO of Rocketship Education, offered his perspective on the growth of Rocketship Education and how it has lived up to its founding mission. One of the most refreshing aspects of the article is that Smith was able to provide an honest and accurate assessment of Rocketship Education's growth and areas where he hopes that it will continue to progress in the coming years. This is not surprising, however, because all of the leadership at Rocketship Education is steadfastly committed to doing whatever it takes to provide the best educational experience possible to the children and families they serve.

According to Smith, one of the distinguishing features of the Rocketship Education experience is that it is focused on strengthening parents' connection to their children's learning. It runs a parent leadership program to keep parents engaged in what is going on in the classroom and encourage them to continue the learning at home. One of the key components of the Rocketship Education program is that school leaders make time for home visits each year so that they can truly understand the home environment that their pupils are living in and discover new ways to incorporate home resources into their learning plans. This creates a more holistic learning experience for the students and helps them to understand that there are countless opportunities to learn throughout their day.

Another thing that Smith remains deeply passionate about incorporating into the culture and mindset of the leadership at Rocketship Education is that public education should be a wonderful learning experience for all children from all backgrounds. Smith has proposed a change in the namesake of Rocketship Education to Rocketship Public Schools. He said that although this may seem like merely a symbolic gesture, it is very important to remind parents that Rocketship Education is a public education experience that is just more rooted in improving the individual students' learning opportunities. Smith remains adamant that children should not have to enroll in private school in order to receive a stellar education.

Smith was also very frank about the topic of diversity in Rocketship Education programs. He thinks that the inclusion of a more diverse teaching staff will do wonders for breaking down the racial divide that still exists in many areas of the country. He says that he is extremely proud of all the progress that Rocketship Education has made on this front and looks forward to continuing to blaze a trail in the right direction of racial inclusion. In addition to students from different backgrounds attending Rocketship Education schools, Smith says it is crucial that young students see administrators and educators in positions of influence from all different ethnicities. He hopes that Rocketship Education will be a model for more diversity in all aspects of education.

The inclusion of students with disabilities is another area that Rocketship Education has found ways to excel in. Smith says that Rocketship Education has gone far beyond simply focusing on compliance with state and federal regulations on providing access to opportunities for students with disabilities to meaningful inclusion. One thing that he looks forward to implementing in Rocketship Education schools is more chances for students with disabilities to interact with their peers outside the classroom. Smith says that this will create a richer experience for all students and takes inclusion to a whole new level. It is also more practical for students with disabilities because they may need additional support in functioning outside the classroom setting. This will help to set them up for success beyond traditional academic skills, which is vital for their future inclusion as adults in society.

The biggest takeaway that Smith says he learned in his 10 years of working with Rocketship Education to build a premium academic experience is that parents are one of the most untapped and powerful resources in the equation. Smith says that parents have a more powerful voice than they think in demanding positive changes in the public school system. When the band together in the name of calling for necessary improvements in their children's schools, administrators and teachers are forced to listen. He also says that parents are the best source of information about the needs of their children and should be consulted frequently by educators about whether those changes are being met. In order to see broader reform in the public education system, Smith says that parents will have to play a vital role and must be taken seriously by public officials in their quest to develop the best experience for their children.

About Rocketship Education

Rocketship Education was created as a system of public elementary charter schools located in economically disadvantaged areas. Programs are offered up through fifth grade for students from lower income backgrounds. One of the core principles of Rocketship Education is that each student is unique and learns in his or her own way. There is a strong emphasis on structuring curriculum so that it is accessible to students with all different types of learning styles.

Rocketship Education has set out to eliminate the academic achievement gap between students with middle-class parents and those who come from tougher neighborhoods. It recruits and trains excellent teachers to give students the best possible chance at success. Parents are constantly engaged in the learning process and are considered the top advocates for students at Rocketship Education. The overarching philosophy at Rocketship Education is that it takes an entire village to successfully raise the next generation of leaders. Rocketship Education is committed to going a step beyond to make students feel empowered and capable of great things.