After the Flood: Thankful for Community

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by Beyond Editorial Team

“You never expect it to happen to you.” Dulce’s eyes start to glisten. She is sitting on a brand new microfiber couch in a partially furnished three bedroom apartment in East San Jose. “Everything can change in one day.” Looking around she says, “Everything you see here is a gift. All that we own now was given to us. Even this apartment.” A matching dining room table set, a basket of books and toys in the hallway, and the couch she is perched on are all brand new.

It has been nine months since Dulce’s family lost their home and all their material possessions in the San Jose floods. When Coyote Creek unexpectedly overflowed its banks on February 20th, hundreds of homes were flooded and over 14,000 residents were forced to evacuate. “It was about 10am when I heard the yells of the firefighters on the loud speakers,” Dulce remembers. “The water had risen up past the driveways. The firefighters said that we all had to evacuate immediately, and were taking people from their homes in boats. I grabbed about four diapers and left. I assumed I’d be back by the end of the day.” Dulce shakes her head. It’s now been almost a year since the incident, and it’s doubtful her family will ever be able to return to their home due to all the damage. “From there we went to the shelter, and that’s where it all started.”
The name Dulce, Spanish for sweet, fits this courageous mother of three well. Dulce’s family is originally from Mexico. Her husband works in construction from 4am through 11pm every day. He has not missed a single day of work in the year since the flood. Together they have a teenage daughter, a ten year-old Rocketeer, and their baby, Said, who was barely three weeks old when they lost their home.
What do you do when you lose everything? Many of us have safety nets to absorb shocks like this. But for an immigrant family whose rent controlled apartment of eight years is destroyed in one of the most expensive housing areas in our nation, losing everything can quickly spiral into loss upon loss. “You realize how fragile life is. Especially if you are poor,” Dulce shakes her head somberly. She pulls out her phone, and navigates to a photo of her son, Cesar, in his Rocketship school uniform. His face is aglow with candlelight, as he beams up from a birthday cake with ten gleaming candles. “You also are reminded how important people are,” Dulce adds, smiling softly. Tragedy is never a welcome guest, but it does remind us of what is important in life. It brings community together, and finds support in unexpected places. “I never thought it would be Cesar’s school who would would be there supporting us in our darkest moments. Without the help of Rocketship, we wouldn’t have any of this.”
“I am a Rocketship Rocketeer at home, at school, and in my community.” Cesar recites this from the Rocketship Creed every morning at Mateo Sheedy’s launch. Those words have never held more meaning than now. Dulce’s voice moves up half an octave as she lists the names of Rocketship staff and teachers who have delivered meals, clothes, and provided her family with an outpour of love and support. Over 30 Rocketship families from nine Bay Area schools were directly impacted by the flooding in San Jose. Our network quickly went into high-alert to identify all these families and mobilize support. We established a fund with Catholic Charities that would pay for rental deposits, insurance deductibles and other big ticket expenses that our Rocketeers were facing. Together we raised over $62,000 to support our community in a time of crisis. This fund has made all the difference for Dulce and her family. It has helped pay for a safe apartment for the family, food, clothing, and care for her newborn baby.
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“My family is so thankful for the support we received from everyone at Rocketship,” Dulce rises from her position on the couch. It’s time to pick Cesar up from school. “I want to thank the Rocketship donors for helping us when we lost everything. For giving us nights where we could rest, knowing our children were safe and sound. Above all, thank you for the spirit behind your generosity.”
At Rocketship we work in communities where the achievement gap is real. Our mission is founded on the fundamental belief that all children deserve the chance to realize their full potential. That mission calls on us all to come together to tackle some of the deeply rooted systemic inequities that hold our entire nation back. As Dulce’s story reminds us, when immediate disaster or misfortune strikes any one of our families, we band together and we come through for our community.
That’s what we do, and that’s a lot to be thankful for.

 

Leading a Movement: Parents Honored at the First Annual Bay Area Parent Leadership Awards Ceremony

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by BEYOND Editorial Team

Parents are the first teachers of their children. They are our Rocketeers’ strongest advocates, and the leaders in our collective movement for change. They are closing the achievement gap and bringing educational equity to communities where there are few to no options for an excellent, free, public education. 

Rocketship had the honor of celebrating these courageous and powerful parent leaders at our First Annual Bay Area Parent Leadership Awards Ceremony in early May. Over 20 awards were presented, and school leaders and parents from our 12 Bay Area schools gathered together to celebrate. Here are some highlights from the award winners:

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They Can Take Away Our Garden But They Can’t Take Away Our Unity

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by Marie Issa Gil
Bay Area Regional Director
“Our children feel like second class citizens.” This feeling comes from Rocketship Futuro Academy parent Sasha Hickman, Principal Jason Colon, and a host of other Futuro community members. Why? Because the local school district has routinely targeted the school, students, and families with discriminatory language and action.

The first Rocketship school in the East Bay, Rocketship Futuro Academy has only been open a few months and already our parents have created a community of pride around their school. Rocketship Futuro Academy is co-located on the Ayers Elementary campus in Concord. Made up of six portables, the Futuro campus houses Rocketeers from kindergarten to second grade. ‘Purpose’ is the school’s fifth core value, as chosen by the Futuro parents and community supporters.

Padres involucrados organizan en 2016 Foro de Candidatos para eliminar la brecha académica en San Jose

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by Alexandra Martinez

Me llamo Alexandra Martinez y soy un padre líder de Rocketship Fuerza Community Prep. El jueves, 27 de Octubre, padres de Rocketship Education, Voices College Bound Language Academies, Alpha Public Schools y otras escuelas chárter se unieron para acoger a los candidatos de la Oficina de Educación del Condado de Santa Clara y también de la Asamblea del Distrito 27 de California en el 2016 Foro de Candidatos. Mas de 1.300 miembros de la comunidad asistieron para abogar para la educación y para escuchar los puntos de vista de los candidatos sobre problemas que afectan nuestras comunidades como recursos para inmigrantes, libre elección de escuelas y vivienda.

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Padres líderes invitan a la comunidad al 2016 Foro de Candidatos

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by Eva Heredia and the
BEYOND Editorial Team

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El Jueves 27 de Octubre será un día especial para muchos de nuestros padres en la comunidad de San José. Esta fecha marca el 2016 Foro de Candidatos, un evento organizado enteramente por padres líderes.  Este dedicado grupo de padres de Rocketship, KIIP, Alpha y Voices llevan seis meses planeando y promocionando este foro para crear un espacio donde la comunidad pueda escuchar las plataformas de los candidatos locales. Han retransmitido por la radio, distribuido folletos y llamado a cientos de familias, todo para garantizar que la voz de su comunidad sea presente e escuchada.  

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First Day of School in Pictures for the 2016-2017 School Year

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by BEYOND Editorial Team

School started for our Rocketeers in Nashville, Milwaukee, DC and the Bay Area just a few weeks ago and we got some incredible pictures from our families! Though we can’t share all of them, below is a smattering of pictures of our Rocketeers getting excited for school, walking into their classes, or enjoying Launch.

Thank you to everyone who sent in pictures on Facebook and Instagram. Please keep them coming – we want to follow your Rocketeers’ success all year round!

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Los Dichos: Values, Partnership and Cultural Identity in the Classroom

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by Lorena Romero and Lety Gomez
Rocketship Parents, Rocketship Fuerza Community Prep

 If we want our kids to be lifelong readers, we as parents must read to them, with them and around them. Why not take this approach into the classroom? To help Rocketeers learn to love reading, many Rocketship parents, including us, participate in the Los Dichos Program through Project Cornerstone, an initiative of the YMCA of Silicon Valley. Los Dichos is a literature-based program emphasizing stories of Latino origin that not only benefits the students, but also benefits the parents.

The Los Dichos program helps parents, especially those parents who speak Spanish as their primary language, to be involved in their children’s education and instill a positive cultural identity. We begin by taking an introductory course on developmental assets by a Project Cornerstone staff. We meet monthly as a group to review and discuss lesson plans and activities before we go into the classroom.

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11 Ways to Beat the Summer Slide

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by BEYOND Editorial Team
Bay Area
Summertime is here! The pros: fun in the sun, family time, and much-needed rest and relaxation. The cons: what educators refer to as the “summer slide” — the regression a student can experience from lost instructional time during summer break. Continue reading

Padres en Concord Reciben Nueva Opción de Escuela Pública

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by Cristina Gutierrez
Parent, Concord 

La mayoría de los padres no piensan en escoger a qué escuela pública pueden enviar a sus hijos. Simplemente, los niños van a la escuela que el distrito les ha asignado. Eso fue lo que hicieron mis padres. Pero cuando yo estaba creciendo en Concord, mis padres no tenÍan otra opción. Me hubiera gustado que si la tuvieran. Mientras estuve en la escuela nunca recibí la ayuda que yo necesitaba. Batallé  durante la High School, y me gradué. Pero me pregunto que hubiera sido de mi vida si mis padres hubiesen tenido otra opción escolar pública para mi.

Ahora, los padres de Concord podemos escoger cual escuela pública es la apropiada para nuestros hijos. El mes pasado, la Mesa Directiva de Educación del Estado de California votó para aprobar la apertura de la escuela charter Rocketship. Esta escuela pública abrirá sus puertas este Agosto en Concord!

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Hot Days, Healthy Brains: Summer Activities That Keep Kids Learning

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by Logan Juve Janicula
Integrated Special Education Program Specialist
With spring break just ending, summer is just a few short months away. It’s never too early to start planning your summer activities! With so many amazing programs offered in our communities, it’s hard to keep track of them all – that’s why we did the work for you. Research shows students risk regression during summer months, so what better way to keep that brain healthy than by finding fun ways to keep learning? We hand-picked some great activities in each of our regions that will stretch your student’s thinking this summer.

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7 Spring Break Strategies for Growing Brains

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by Logan Juve Janicula
Integrated Special Education Program Specialist

Over the next few weeks, students across the country will abandon their desks and leave their pencils and papers behind. Classrooms will transform into ghost towns, and playgrounds will be empty. Why? It’s spring break! While our students may be opting to sleep in and play outside in the sunshine instead of dissecting paragraphs and working through math lessons, it doesn’t mean they can’t continue to grow their brains this week! Here are seven strategies that students and their caregivers can engage in to keep their brains active during this spring break.
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How to Prepare for the Middle School Transition

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by Logan Juve Janicula
Integrated Special Education Coach
Associate Editor ➟ BEYOND

Editor’s Note: We know that success in middle school is built upon a strong foundation of academics, character, creativity and social-emotional intelligence. We are proud that an independent study by SRI International found that our Rocketeers are thriving in middle school. As families at Rocketship and beyond prepare to transition to middle school we’re publishing this post again to help guide your way.

As temperatures rise and spring birds make their way back to our windowsill, many families will begin to think about the next step in their student’s educational trajectory: middle school. While we know this change can bring with it anxiety, it’s also an exciting time to exercise the power of school choice in ensuring all Rocketeers continue to thrive. We connected with Manny Barrera, Director of Academics at Alpha Public Schools, to answer some of your questions about the next step.

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