From Teaching to Recruiting: My Journey at Rocketship

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by Caitlyn Metteer
Associate Director, Recruitment

Yesenia was one of those kindergartners who took her job very seriously. She knew she was in school to learn and she lived it everyday. She loved to participate, she was gregarious, and was well liked by the other students in class. She was incredibly smart, but she had to really work to learn to read. She struggled at times, but she continued to try. I’ll never forget the day I sat down with her for a reading assessment and I handed her a book that went beyond the pattern books she’d been reading. She looked at the words on the page and she slowly started to read the sight words she’d memorized. She started to decode the words she didn’t immediately know. She used picture cues to guide her and together we watched her truly read for the first time. Her voice warbled as she realized what she was doing and in that moment, I knew that she’d learned something no one could take away. I’d never felt the real weig

ht of the work that we do quite like that. It was palpable and real.

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Rocketship Parents Featured on “Reinventing America’s Schools”

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Rocketship DC parents Erika Harrell and Shavon Collier had the honor to be featured in The 74 Million’s latest project, “Reinventing America’s Schools.” Ms. Harrell and Ms. Collier are both founding parents of Rocketship Rise Academy.

This project by The 74 was inspired by the new book Reinventing America’s Schools: Creating a 21st Century Education System, by the Progressive Policy Institute’s David Osborne. It is a bracing survey of the most dramatic improvements taking place in urban public education today, in cities as diverse as New Orleans, Denver, Washington, D.C., and Indianapolis. To celebrate the publication of Osborne’s book and to further tell the story found in it, The 74 Million created a microsite of stories and videos from each profiled region. Continue reading

Rocketship Legacy Prep: What Will Your Legacy Be?

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by Michael Rabin and Erica Toews

Rocketship Legacy Prep Founding Principal and Education Pioneers Fellow

We want our children to understand their past, their legacies, but we also want them to build and create their own. For us, Rocketship Ward 7 represents just that: the chance for all of our kids to build their own legacy right there in the community.”

Those words came from one of the founding parents of the brand new Rocketship Legacy Prep (RLP), the second Rocketship school in DC and the first in Anacostia’s Ward 7. At Rocketship, each school is named by our founding parents. The RLP parents chose the name and idea of legacy because they see their new school as joining a community of proud families, neighborhoods, and communities East of the River that have been creating legacies for generations. Together, our parents, our staff, and the entire Rocketship DC family know our students are capable of leaving transformational legacies. It starts with us. Right here. Right now.  Continue reading

He Thought He Hated School. Here’s How We Turned It Around for a Kid With Special Needs

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by Stephanie Storlie
Integrated Special Education (ISE) Specialist, Rocketship Rise Academy

*This post originally appeared on Education Post

“I’m not going to that school. I don’t even like school,” Chase yelled at me. Running up and down a slide, holding a giant stick two feet taller than him, this almost kindergartener in tall white men’s tube socks, blue swim trunks, and a neon orange shirt was already giving me a run for my money—and school hadn’t even started yet. It was July 2016 and I was doing my home visit to Chase’s family in Southeast D.C. before Chase started at Rocketship Rise Academy. I knew that we could create a learning environment where Chase could thrive. But I never imagined how far he would come in his first year. Continue reading

Learning & Letting Go: A Year in a Kinder Classroom

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by Chelsea Graeff
Kindergarten Teacher, Rocketship Los Sueños 

“Ms. Graeff! Ms. Graeff!”

When you are a kindergarten teacher, you are a celebrity. All of the kids call out your name when they see you, with admiration, joy and expectation — not only the students who are with you for the 180 days of that particular school year, but also all the kids who have sat in your classroom over the years. That’s because kindergarten is like no other year in elementary school. For the students, everything is new and a little bit scary at first. For the teacher, we have the privilege of shaping a child’s identity as a student and their idea of what school is all about. There is nothing more dramatic than the change in a kindergartener from the beginning of the year to the end.

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A Dream Realized: From Undocumented to Graduate to Teacher, What I Learned at Rocketship Discovery Prep

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by Angelica Del Rio
First Grade Literacy Teacher, Rocketship Discovery Prep
 

I never thought I’d get here. I never thought I’d be legally allowed to stay in this country, be a college graduate, or be a teacher. Coming originally from Tijuana, Mexico, when I was one year old, my family immigrated to San Jose.  We scraped by those first few years. We crammed eight people into a two bedroom apartment. My father was always working, trying to keep food on the table and saving up so we could move into our own home. When I turned five, my dad bought our first house.

I started school that same year. I went to a nearby school in the neighborhood. It was great and I got good grades. But everything changed when I got to middle school. My parents were no longer able to help me with my homework but they still expected me to earn straight A’s. My dad would tell me “You only have one job. Your job is to go to school and get good grades. My job is to work to give you food and shelter so you can bring those excellent grades home.” I was so scared to disappoint my family. I did not know how to study, so I memorized everything by writing it down on a paper. I would read what I wrote to myself and I would go to sleep repeating what I had written from my books. My grades improved but I’m not sure I really learned much in middle school. In high school, things got a little better. I did well in math and science, but I hated English. I understand the pain that many of my students have when they are not able to write or say something grammatically correct in English.

Sparking Creative Classroom Solutions Through Teacher Innovation

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by Beyond Editorial Staff

Helping fourth graders access and understand the news. Increasing personalization in kinder STEM classes. These are just some examples of how our creative Rocketship teachers used funds they won in our first ever round of ‘Innovation Grants.’ This grant, sponsored by the Achievement and Operations Teams, awarded 5 different grants to help Rocketship staff innovate and solve important challenges that impact our Rocketeers. The grants were aimed at projects that identify specific, “bite-size” issues and include innovative and scalable solutions to solving the issues. 12 staff members, from teachers to enrichment coordinators to office managers, applied for this inaugural round of funding.  Here are some examples of the winners…

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‘We’re With You’: Fourth Graders Learn Empathy Through Art

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by Briana Burtsell, Rocketship United Academy Art Enrichment Coordinator and Visual Art Instructor

Walking into the lobby of the Nashville Ronald McDonald House you know immediately that this is a welcoming place for kids. Brightly colored walls, comfortable seating, beautiful art, and a big kids play area fill the space. The problem is that families staying at the Ronald McDonald House spend most of their days in the hospital with their child and their nights in the individual family rooms, not in the lobby. The family rooms have not been brightened and decorated like the rest of the house, but instead remain grey and bare. Continue reading

March Math Madness

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by Heidy Shinn

Prinipal, Rocketship Sí Se Puede Academy

 “Go down deep enough into anything and you will find mathematics.” – Dean Schlicter

When it comes to STEM education, the case for curiosity and exploration often gets lost in the traditional classroom. At Rocketship we believe in encouraging our student’s appetite for learning by igniting their curiosity and allowing them to experience learning. Last month for example, Rocketeers at Si Se Puede Academy found the connection between math and basketball during the NCAA March Madness tournament as they were transformed into court-side statisticians at the SAP Center in San Jose.

We caught up with Si Se Puede Principal Heidy Shin to find out more about this March Math Madness. Check out her story below. 

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Gratitude is a Choice We Make Every Day

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by Tatum Schultz
Third Grade STEM Teacher, Rocketship United Academy

Every language in the world has a way of saying “thank you.” Gratitude is an inherent quality that resides deep within each one of us. It is triggered by different events and crosses the boundaries of race, age, and gender. Gratitude comes from the heart. It is an acknowledgment of the positive things that we feel in our soul. When we give gratitude, we give a gift freely and unearned.img_9471

At Rocketship United Academy, our leaders, teachers, and support staff are dedicated to sharing gratitude. Within our halls a positive culture thrives. Respect, responsibility, empathy, and persistence are our core values we believe in. We build on our core values and allow our Rocketeers to grow in a community that shares a desire to exceed expectations.

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Rising Into School Leadership

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by Michelle Chung Ng
Assistant Principal, Rising Stars Academy

I can still remember the day my coach suggested I should apply to be in Rocketship’s Rising Leaders program. I was excited by the challenge and the opportunity to grow professionally. As a member of the Rising Leaders cohort 15-16, I have grown professionally by being honest about my development areas, being pushed out of my comfort zone and sharing openly with those in my cohort. Sitting in a room with other highly effective teachers who want to grow and learn as a professional inspires me.

Rising Leaders is a leadership development program that is offered to teachers at Rocketship who are interested in growing their adult management skills and have taught for more than two years. The program is designed both for teachers who want to grow their leadership in the classroom or begin the transition into school leadership. We meet once a month with our cohort, which is composed of about 20 teachers across the network.

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United We Learn

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by Jason Egly
Teacher, Rocketship United Academy

Egypt

Kenya

Somalia

Mexico

Honduras

El Salvador

Venezuela

Puerto Rico

USA

Is this about the Olympics?

No. It’s a list of the homelands proudly represented by the students in my two fourth grade Humanities classes at Rocketship United Academy (RUA) in Nashville. Continue reading