Why Rising Leaders is My Professional Workout

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by Kim Stevenson
Teacher, Brilliant Minds

In the ever challenging goal of maintaining work/life balance, exercise is always at the top of my list in the life category. Unfortunately I am not a self-motivated exerciser. My husband is disciplined enough to crank out a quick workout in our apartment hallway. Me? Couch and tea please! I need the push of a group of people all trying to better themselves through a class together. I’m the same when it comes to developing myself professionally.

I would love to say I am as driven as my coach, Amy Filsinger, in searching out professional development articles and books, but what I really need is a group. The professional development available through Rocketship was a key reason I joined the Rocketship team. Rocketship’s Rising Leaders program was of particular interest. For me, it’s the group exercise class for my personal leadership development.

Rocketship Kim Stevenson

Ms. Stevenson leads her kinder Rocketeers in a rhyming exercise.

When my coach first encouraged me to apply to become a Rising Leader, my assumption was that it was geared toward current teachers interested in bolstering their leadership skills in preparation for assistant principal and principal positions. Nonetheless, my leadership team encouraged me to apply to hone my skills as purely a classroom teacher – a classroom leader.

I applied, eager to recreate the benefits I experienced from recently completing a graduate program: self growth, continued learning and community with similarly interested peers. I have been fortunate to find all of these aspects through this group.

Rising Leaders has given me the opportunity to clarify what my personal goals are for campus leadership even though I know I want to continue to lead students in the classroom. The group itself is diverse, a good mixture of Rocketeers interested in growing as teachers and those interested in growing into school leadership. The most impactful part of the program for me is the self-reflection required to meaningfully engage in our sessions. Whether it’s examining my own triggers about how I receive feedback, or the potential pitfalls of how I approach persuasion, I am regularly evaluating myself and making specific goals on how I can improve in situations that regularly arise in a school and professional environment.

Every time we meet I am grateful the session focuses on a specific topic that drives our opportunity to make targeted improvements. Reading about and dissecting an article on potential triggers that could make me respond negatively to feedback opened my eyes to ways I can better my personal practice. Receiving coaching well directly impacts my teaching and therefore allows my students to thrive that much more.

An unexpected benefit of Rising Leaders for me has been the community building with individuals across the Rocketship network I would otherwise not know as personally. There are so many intelligent and passionate people across our schools and it is so encouraging to get to know them and see the visions of future leaders within our network.

Just as I push myself harder when in a group workout class, I definitely am more motivated learn and grow professionally when in a group together. I am proud to be a Rocketeer and proud to lead my students as a classroom teacher.


Kim is a Transitional Kindergarten teacher at Rocketship Brilliant Minds. She is in her second year at Rocketship and has taught first grade, kindergarten, and 1st-3rd special education previously in a district school. Kim spends the school year with Rocketeers and her summers in the mountains. 

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