Rocketship Stands With Dreamers / Rocketship está del lado de los dreamers

by Preston Smith
Co-Founder and CEO, Rocketship Public Schools

Dear Rocketeer families,

All of us at Rocketship are outraged by President Trump’s decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. In six months, more than 800,000 young adults who came out of the shadows for the promise of a path to citizenship could lose their student and work visas and are at risk of deportation. Our families, students, alumni, staff, and communities are directly threatened by this action.

We proudly stand with our DREAMers and will continue to fight for them. This fight is at the core of our Rocketship movement. It’s a fight for equality for all children.

All Rocketship campuses are safe school zones. Last spring, the Rocketship Board of Directors passed a resolution that designates all our schools as safe places for all families. This resolution provides additional protection to prevent immigration officials from coming on campus or accessing student records without the express approval of Rocketship leadership. We are committed to ensuring that our Rocketeers and families continue to thrive in a safe place for all students, regardless of immigration status.

Pressure Congress to pass the Dream Act of 2017. We are mobilizing our network and supporters to ACT NOW and demand that Congress pass the Dream Act of 2017. DREAMers are a vital part of our network, our community, our movement, and our nation. Like we tell our students, your voice matters. Be loud and proud in your support of DREAMers. Tell Congress to pass the Dream Act before March 5. 

Public action to advocate for our immigrant communities. This winter, Rocketship parent leaders in the Bay Area are planning to lead a public action on immigration. The forum will be a safe space for our community to engage elected officials in a public discussion about immigrant rights and demonstrate our collective strength in demanding that they continue to advocate for our DREAMers and community.  Look for more information later this year and help ensure that our voices are heard by our public officials.

We have all worked so hard to build incredible schools that are transforming our neighborhoods and cities. We will not let our families be dismantled or scared back into the shadows. Rocketship stands together with each of you. We must seize the moment, mobilize our community, and continue to fight for equality.

If you are concerned about your rights, please go to your school’s front office for a free bilingual immigrant rights resource card. If you want to learn how to support our immigrant families, what to do if you’re a DACA recipient, or have other concerns, we encourage you to visit the Immigrant Legal Resource Center. As always, please feel free to reach out to me directly or your principal.

We are all Rocketeers!

Estimado padre o guardián legal,

Todos nosotros en Rocketship estamos indignados por la decisión del Presidente Trump de terminar el programa de la Acción Diferida para los Llegados en la Infancia (DACA). En seis meses, más de 800.000 jóvenes que salieron de las sombras con la promesa de un camino hacia la ciudadanía, podrían perder sus visas de trabajo y estudiantiles, y están en riesgo de deportación. Nuestras familias, estudiantes, ex-alumnos, empleados y comunidades están directamente amenazadas por esta acción. Orgullosamente expresamos nuestra solidaridad con nuestros DREAMers y seguiremos luchando por ellos. Nuestro movimiento está centrado en esta lucha. Es una lucha por la equidad de todos los niños.

Todas las escuelas de Rocketship son lugares seguros. En primavera, la Junta Directiva Nacional de Rocketship aprobó una resolución afirmando que las escuelas de Rocketship son zonas escolares seguras para todos los estudiantes. Esta resolución provee protección adicional para impedir que las autoridades migratorias llegan al campus o accedan a los archivos de estudiantes sin la aprobación expresa del liderazgo de Rocketship. Estamos comprometidos a garantizar que todos nuestros Rocketeers y sus familias continúen prosperando en un lugar seguro para todos los estudiantes, independientemente de su estatus migratorio.

Presionar al Congreso para pasar el Dream Act (Acto de Sueño) de 2017. Estamos movilizando a nuestras redes y aliados para ACTUAR YA y exigir que el Congreso apruebe el Dream Act de 2017.  Los DREAMers son una parte vital de nuestra comunidad, nuestro movimiento y nuestra nación. Como le decimos a nuestros estudiantes, su voz es importante. Sea fuerte y orgulloso en  su apoyo a los DREAMers. Dígale al Congreso que apruebe el Dream Act de 2017

Acción pública para abogar por nuestras comunidades de inmigrantes. Este invierno, los padres líderes de Rocketship en el Área de la Bahía tienen planeada una acción pública sobre la inmigración. El foro será un espacio seguro donde nuestra comunidad podrá iniciar un diálogo público con los oficiales electos sobre los derechos de los inmigrantes y demostrar nuestra fuerza colectiva en exigir que siguen abogando por nuestros DREAMers y nuestra comunidad. Esté atento para más información este año y ayude a asegurar que nuestras voces sean escuchadas por nuestros funcionarios públicos.

Todos hemos trabajado duramente para construir escuelas increíbles con el fin de transformar a nuestros barrios y ciudades. No dejaremos que nuestras familias sean desmanteladas o asustadas. Rocketship está del lado de cada uno de ustedes. Debemos aprovechar el momento, movilizar y seguir luchando por la igualdad. Si está preocupado por sus derechos, por favor vaya a la oficina de su escuela a por una tarjeta bilingüe gratuita de recursos sobre derechos de inmigrantes. Si desea aprender cómo usted puede apoyar a nuestras familias inmigrantes, qué hacer si es recipiente de DACA, u otras preocupaciones, le recomendamos que visite al Centro de Recursos Legales para Inmigrantes. Como siempre, no dude en comunicarse conmigo directamente o con su principal.

¡Todos somos Rocketeers!


Preston co-founded Rocketship Public Schools in San Jose in 2006. Prior to founding Rocketship, Preston was founder and Principal of L.U.C.H.A. Elementary School, part of the Alum Rock Unified School District in San Jose, CA. After its first three years of operation, L.U.C.H.A. was the fourth highest performing low-income elementary school in California. Preston began his career in education as a Teach for America (TFA) Corps member at Clyde Arbuckle Elementary School (CA). In 2003, Preston was named “Teacher of the Year” at Arbuckle and was also nominated as one of six finalists for TFA’s Sue Lehmann award, given to TFA corps members with the highest classroom academic gains in the nation. Preston is also an Aspen New Schools Fellow. He lives in San Jose with his wife and two children who attend Rocketship Fuerza Community Prep.


Personalized Learning in the Classroom Comes in Many Forms

by Keya Lamba
Senior Associate, Personalized Learning

At Rocketship, we have always valued personalized learning as a core part of our instruction, integrating blended learning programs into our instructional model to meet the needs of each and every Rocketeer.

In a typical classroom, you will see one teacher teaching the same content to 25-30 students. In this whole group structure, it is near impossible to tell what content every student is comprehending and what gaps in understanding specific students may have. At Rocketship, we define personalized learning as an instructional approach where whole group instruction is more purposefully utilized (i.e. social-emotional lessons that are developmentally appropriate and require a large group or team), and Rocketeers engage in learning that is targeted to their individual academic and personal needs. While technology allows us to efficiently assign aligned conteIMG_5878nt and track growth, online tools do not solely define our personalized learning model. Rather, the authentic partnership of teacher insights, student agency, online tools, and data systems allow us to really give each learner what they need to succeed. Thus, personalized learning lives in all parts of the day, including, but not limited to: small group instruction, peer group projects, pull out groups with ISE (Integrated Special Education) specialist, leveled homework, Tier II interventions in the Learning Lab, and online learning programs (OLPs).
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Empowering Our Girls to Share Their Truth

by LaToya Fernandez
Social Justice and Culture Teacher, Rocketship Discovery Prep + Queen Hype Founder

“She goes to school. Feels uncertain about who she is. Tryin to hide behind the curtain so she lashes out. Out of fear of bein’ known, inside and out.”

“Jagged” by Queen Hype from SJ Digital Arts on Vimeo.

These words come from our Rocketeers’ work in Queenhype’s award-winning short film “Jagged.” The girls who wrote, directed, and starred in this movie are only 6-12 years old. Yet they used their voices and their art to show the struggle of a young girl, in school and in her community; to be okay with who she is. The girl eventually embraces who she is, inside and out, with the help of her other ‘queens.’ Queenhype partnered with San Jose Digital Arts to write and shoot this first short film to bring awareness to mental illness and violence in socio- economically disadvantaged communities.

QueenHype is an empowerment club that acts as a safe space for girls to confront their insecurities and move forward from them by establishing a strong sense of self-love and purpose. The skills we’re developing in QueenHype are improving not only their personal lives, but also their academic success, putting them on the path to tackle college and their careers with courage. QueenHype inspires our female Rocketeer students to find their voice, their confidence, and their reason to make their mark in history.

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Rocketship Schools Named Top Bay Area Public Schools for Underserved Students

by Beyond Editorial Staff
The accolades keep rolling in for our Rocketeers! In the fall, Innovate Public Schools released their 2016 report titled “Top Bay Area Public Schools for Underserved Students.” Their findings show that for the third year in a row, the majority of Rocketship schools made their lists for top schools closing the achievement gap. Six Rocketship schools in San Jose made at least one list of top schools getting results for low-income Latino or African-American students. In math results for low-income Latino students, six Rocketship schools made the list of the top 18 schools, the most of any district or charter management organization. We are so proud of our Rocketeers who are beating the odds and getting on the path to college and career. This report is just one of many testaments to the results our Rocketeers achieve through their hard work and dedication.
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Kindergartners Conquering Personalized “Quests” Learn To Love Reading

by Lauren Berry
Kindergarten Teacher, Rocketship Redwood City Prep

Anyone who’s worked to teach kindergarteners how to read knows that it can be a slippery challenge. Their squirmy bodies are full of energy, which can make it difficult for them to sit still through reading instruction, let alone through an entire text that they’re still struggling to understand.

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Frustrated, Curious, Optimistic: How Teaching Social-Emotional Learning Benefits Students & Teachers

by Alyssa Warren
Senior Associate, Rocketship Schools Team
Aiden and I started the year off strong. At our home visit before the school year had started, we played “Chutes and Ladders” and ate ice cream and he showed me all of his books, reading the title of every single one. He was a new first grader, excited to start at a new school with uniforms, multiple teachers, dancing, and his big brother across the hall. Aiden was a quick learner, eager to participate, and always winning new friends at recess with his bright eyes, wide smile, and silly jokes. Continue reading

They Shoot, They Score: Rocketship’s Annual Special Olympics

by Emma Brady
Associate Director, Integrated Special Education

Goooooooal! Last Friday’s Special Olympics soccer tournament was a day sure to be remembered by many.  Cheers erupted from all sides of the soccer fields while students raced past family, friends and teachers on the sidelines to make that coveted goal for their school team. This tournament marked Rocketship’s second partnership with the Special Olympics.

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Coding for the Future: Hour of Code

by LaToya Fernandez
Teacher, Discovery Prep

Next week, Rocketeers will be celebrating Computer Science Education Week by joining in the “Hour of Code,” an international coding educational event. With this early introduction to coding, young Rocketeers can nurture their problem-solving and logic skills and express their creativity. Our students will become the future of medicine, politics, law and education. A solid STEM foundation will help them continue on a college-bound path and open up doors to careers in the sciences. Continue reading

Boys to Men: Mu Phi Gamma Fraternity

by Cameron Frazier
Teacher, Nashville Northeast Elementary

Great schools do more than teach kids how to read and write. They teach kids to engage, think critically and lead. When I first began teaching, I realized many of boys had room to improve both their academic and leadership skills. So, in October of 2012, I partnered with two colleagues at Matthew W. Gilbert Middle School in Jacksonville, Florida to unite the male population at our school. We envisioned a program that would help build the boys in our school into young men. Modeled after a fraternity, we focused on the pillars of scholarship, brotherhood and leadership. When I began teaching at Nashville Northeast Elementary in 2015, I extended the organization and created the Beta Chapter. I’m proud to share Mu Phi Gamma has already made an impression on our campus. Currently the Beta Chapter is impacting  18 young men. The Mu Phi Gamma Rocketeers participate in community service projects, tutoring, brotherhood gatherings, awareness seminars and have even formed a step dance group.

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December is Love of Reading Month!

by Brooke Pfaff
Associate Director of Humanities

If you asked me to name three of my favorite things, it would be challenging, maybe even impossible. However if you let me cheat a little, I would simply say books. Please just don’t make me say which three. That wouldn’t be fair to the others.

Growing up, my family had a Tuesday routine. Every week, for two hours, I felt like the luckiest girl. Continue reading

A Look into our Personalized Learning Toolbox

by Stephen Pham
Senior Associate, Personalized Learning

Here at Rocketship, we strive to deliver personalized instruction to our Rocketeers, giving them the right level of academic support right when they need it. By strategically leveraging teacher-led instruction, in-class activities, small-group instruction and our suite of blended learning programs, we do our best to balance the modalities of learning and give every student the academic supports they need.

Zooming into our blended learning programs, you’ll find that we don’t just depend on one online program to meet all of the needs of our students. Rather, we utilize a suite of programs – our personalized learning toolbox. After putting these programs through methodical pilots, assessing their benefits based on a disciplined rubric and ensuring each fits into our suite, we’ve put together a group of programs that support our instructional model. Below, you’ll find an infographic that compares our online learning programs side-by-side and forms our comprehensive suite.

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A (Not-So-Secret) Formula for Incredible Student Growth

by Anna Layden
Teacher, Southside Community Prep

When one of my students, Sarah*, achieved the most growth in her grade, I wasn’t surprised. Her incredible drive to work hard always stood out; for a kindergartner, that level of dedication was unique for her. She came in wanting to learn and improve.

When Sarah also achieved one of the highest overall scorers on her middle and end of the school year assessments, I was in awe. Her success was a testament to how personalized learning, the right school environment and a dedicated team of educators can make an extraordinary difference in a child’s learning. Continue reading