The First Day of School in Photos/ El Primer Día de Clases en Fotos: 2017/18

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by Beyond Editorial Team

Nervous smiles and butterflies. Brand new backpacks and future friendships. The first day of school is filled with emotions for students, teachers and families alike. Above all it is filled with hope. Hope for a new year of growth, change, and learning. From the first day of school to the last, each and every Rocketeer walks into our classrooms with the potential for greatness. And it is our responsibility as teachers, parents, and school leaders to unleash that potential.

This year is full of new beginnings. We opened Rocketship Partners Community Prep in Nashville, and Rocketship Legacy Prep in Washington, DC. Rocketship Futuro Academy in Concord got new space, and we celebrated our first 10 years. What did the first day of school look like across our 18 schools? Our families across the country sent us their photos, and while we can’t share them all, here is a taste of what a Rocketship first day of school looks like:

Sonrisas nerviosas y mariposas. Nuevas mochilas y amistades. El primer día de clases siempre está lleno de emoción, tanto para los estudiantes como para sus familias y maestros. Es un día lleno de esperanza. Esperanza para un año nuevo de crecimiento, transformación y aprendizaje. Desde el primer día hasta el último, cada Rocketeer que entra en nuestras puertas tiene el potencial para ser extraordinario. Y es nuestra responsabilidad como maestros, padres y líderes escolares liberar ese potencial. 

Para nosotros en Rocketship, ha sido un año de nuevos comienzos. Hemos abierto Rocketship Partners Community Prep en Nashville y Rocketship Legacy Prep en Washington, DC. Rocketship Futuro Academy en Concord consiguió un nuevo espacio, y hemos celebrado nuestros primeros 10 años. ¿Cómo fue el primer día del año escolar en nuestras 18 escuelas? Nuestras familias nos mandaron sus fotos, y aunque no podemos compartirlas todas, aquí está una muestra de como es un primer día de clases en Rocketship:

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10 Lessons From Rocketship’s First 10 Years

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

*This post originally appeared on The 74 Million

Ten years ago, we opened the first Rocketship school in a church in San Jose, California. Although we’ve made remarkable impact in the communities we serve, Rocketship Education is still a work in progress — we’re always learning how to better serve our students and communities. And we’ve definitely learned a few things during our first decade. Here are 10 lessons from our first 10 years: Continue reading

10 consejos para padres: mejorar el tiempo de pantalla

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by the Beyond Editorial Team

En Rocketship sabemos que la tecnología puede ser una herramienta educativa poderosa cuando se usa de forma correcta. La tecnología no debe ser un sustituto de maestros, sino que debe complementar el aprendizaje ayudando a los estudiantes a aprender a su propio ritmo y fomentar su afición por el aprendizaje. Somos muy intencionales con el contenido digital que ponemos delante de nuestros estudiantes. Desarrollamos e investigamos rigurosamente los programas de aprendizaje en línea que usan nuestros Rocketeers.  Pero ¿en sus hogares?

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10 Smart Tips for Parents: Turn Screen Time into Learning Time

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by the Beyond Editorial Team

At Rocketship we know that when used in the right way, technology can be a powerful educational tool. Online tools should not replace any time with a teacher, rather they should complement classroom learning by helping students learn at their own pace and develop ownership over their learning. We are very purposeful about the digital content we put in front of our students, and rigorously develop and research the adaptive online learning programs our Rocketeers use. But what about at home?

In this new digital age, many parents feel overwhelmed when it comes to navigating devices, screen-time, and technology with their kids at home. With so much out there, parents often ask us for advice on how to ensure their students are using media and technology in a safe and meaningful way.  That is why we created this infographic for parents with 10 easy tips about managing screen time at home. We also vetted some of the best educational apps and websites out there, so that parents can turn screen time into learning time!

Check out the resources below, and feel free to download, print, and share with other families who want to make the most out of screen time at home.

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A Job Interview With Parents Transformed My Career

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by Joshua Pacos
Founding Principal, Rocketship DC

After spending the better part of the past decade teaching and working in charter schools in Washington D.C. and California, I thought I had it pretty well figured out. Then, while I was searching for a new public school leadership opportunity in 2014, I met four parents who – quite frankly – changed the course of my life and what I thought was possible in education. Continue reading

Last Day of School in Photos: Ending 2016/17 Strong

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by Beyond Editorial Team
Just a few, short weeks ago, we finished the 2016/17 school year strong. Nearly 1,700 Rocketeers started this year behind and ended the year performing at or above grade level. The grit, persistence, and ganas of our students, teachers, and families is putting our Rocketeers on the path to college and beyond, and that is something to celebrate. And celebrate we did! Below are some incredible photos taken by our families from the last days of the school year, as their Rocketeers graduated from one grade level and move on to the next. Though we can’t share all of them, enjoy some Rocketeer cheer, and get ready for 2017/18! Congratulations Rocketeers, you earned it.

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Beyond a Buzzword: How This Co-Teaching Model is Driving Meaningful Inclusion

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by Genevieve Thomas
Vice President, Integrated Special Education

“Rocketship serves all students.” It’s a fundamental principle that drives Rocketship’s approach to meaningful inclusion of students with diverse learning needs in our schools. Ask any visitor to a Rocketship classroom and they will tell you that they see this philosophy play out in the diversity of learners in each and every school. It means that every cohort of Rocketeers consists of students of all abilities and disabilities, learning alongside each other in the general education setting supported by a team of Rocketship educators. Continue reading

From Expectation to Acceptance, My Journey To College Started At Rocketship Mateo Sheedy

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by Maya Diaz
2007-2010 Rocketship Mateo Sheedy Elementary

Ten years ago, I was in third grade. I started at a new school that year that I really liked. I had great teachers and we started every day singing and dancing together. It was a good year, but I had no idea that it would make such an incredible impact on my future. But looking back now, that is when it all started. That is when I started thinking about college, dreaming about my future, and dedicating myself to reach my goals.

Ten years later, I was accepted to the best public university in the nation: The University of California – Berkeley. My path to college wasn’t easy. Only one person in my family graduated high school. Nobody in my family even applied to college or knew what it would take to get accepted. But way back when I was just nine years old, my family put me on the path to college when they enrolled me in Rocketship Mateo Sheedy Elementary.

This was the very first year of the very first Rocketship school. Our school was in a church in downtown San Jose. But what I remember most about my time at Rocketship is my teachers and what they taught me. I loved all my teachers at Rocketship, however, my favorites were Ms. Guerrero and Mr. Nadeau. These two teachers made an incredible impact on my education and my life.

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5 Ways to Celebrate Earth Week in the Classroom

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by Beyond Editorial Staff

Earth Week is an opportunity to educate our youngest citizens around environmental awareness. At Rocketship, we prepare our students to be successful, empathetic, and persistent change makers both inside and outside of the classroom. Check out these five ways our Rocketeers celebrated Earth Week this year, and get some ideas for how you can implement environmental awareness in your classroom. Continue reading

The Accidental Educator

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Preston Smith, Rocketship Co-founder and CEO, won the 2016 University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill Distinguished Alumni Award. This led to a feature in the University of North Carolina Alumni Review’s spring issue.

 by Sandra Millers Younger ’75

Back when Preston Smith ’01 was in high school, it wasn’t hard to pick him out of the crowd. He was the one in orange. Orange every day. Shirts, jerseys and jackets. Each one as orange as the fruit that grew in the orchards surrounding Rialto, Calif., a once prosperous middle-class community that was gutted by white flight shortly after Smith’s parents settled there to raise a family.

His penchant for orange made a great campaign gimmick, a distinguishing mark that may have helped him win the race for student body president despite his minority status as a Caucasian kid in a tough inner-city school. Then it became a thing. Preston’s thing. As if he needed to stand out more than he already did.

But Smith’s status as a campus leader didn’t protect him from political backlash when he uncovered a school scandal — a college counselor was playing favorites, stacking the competition for major scholarships.

Smith told the administration and then the media. No one believed him. Faculty members sided with their colleague and turned a cold shoulder toward the kid who’d made the accusations — even after lopsided awards-night results proved him right.

“It was a really lonely year,” Smith said. “Most of my friends had graduated the year before, and none of the teachers would talk to me.”

At graduation, after leading the Pledge of Allegiance, Smith made a farewell statement. He unzipped his standard-issue green graduation gown to reveal a second robe underneath — this one bright orange.

Pomp and circumstance gave way to pandemonium as two angry teachers jumped up and escorted their rebellious student body president off the stage and out of the ceremony. But it was too late. Smith had left his mark.

“A bunch of stuff happened after I graduated,” he said, and the scholarships started getting distributed evenly again.

Preston Smith has been fighting injustice and disrupting the status quo in education ever since. As co-founder, president and CEO of Rocketship Education, a nonprofit network of charter elementary schools based in San Jose, he has turned his restless energy toward the achievement gap — the educational disparity that handicaps students from low-income communities, often for life.

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Poetry, Performance & Pride: Teaching Black History to Elementary Students

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by Beyond Editorial Staff

During Black History Month we have the opportunity to engage our young Rocketeers in important conversations around race, civil rights, social justice, and American history. Our Rocketeers live all over the country. They come from varied backgrounds, speak different languages, and have unique experiences. It is our job to instill in our Rocketeers the knowledge, confidence, and language necessary to talk about and appreciate difference. Black History Month is an opportunity to inspire students to dream big and become the leaders, change makers, and champions they encounter in the powerful figures and accomplishments of the Black community in this country. 

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Tet Festival in Pictures: Celebrating Culture & Community

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by BEYOND Editorial Team

At Rocketship we know we cannot achieve our mission of closing the achievement gap in isolation. We are a collective movement made up of many different identities. A diverse group of teachers, families, and staff united by a common belief that all children deserve a quality education. We believe in creating supportive environments where we celebrate the rich tapestry of social identities that make up our greater Rocketeer community. That means we encourage all of our Rocketeers to learn about each other’s cultural traditions to strengthen the bonds that will help us all unite together to rethink education.

This month, we have the opportunity to celebrate both Black History Month, as well as the Tet Festival, the Vietnamese version of the Lunar New Year. Vietnamese people around the world consider Tet to be one of the most important celebrations of the year, and we were honored to share this important time with our Rocketship community. Several of our schools welcomed the year of the rooster in with special events. The Rocketship Mosaic Vietnamese Parent Association (RMVPA) hosted a large event at Mosaic Elementary that showcased student performances and even a surprise visit from San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo and District 7 Councilman Tam Nguyen.

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