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.
In as much time as it takes you to snap your fingers, you have become a student again. It’s odd…you could have sworn that only a moment ago you were the teacher — leading discussion, imparting wisdom, guiding, correcting. But now, you’ve just dismissed your kids and you’re sitting down for a meeting with your coach. You have a to-do list as long as your arm, so a meeting about abstract-sounding strategies might not be your top priority at the moment. We’ve all been there. Aristotle always said the best way to become a strong teacher is to scribble a few notes while your coach makes suggestions, passing time until you can move on to that to-do list, right?
Teachers spend more than one thousand hours with their students each year. We make deliberate and conscious decisions for every lesson we teach. Everything in our classrooms – from the anchor charts and desk arrangements to lesson hooks and essay topics – are decisions we make to ensure our kids thrive and realize their incredible potential. It is key for teachers to have the autonomy to make these choices in our classrooms, but it is also imperative that we have a voice in the decision making at the school and network or district level.
At Tipping Point Community, we pursue one relentless goal: To fight poverty in the Bay Area. We aim to provide game-changing resources to the 1.3 million people too poor to meet their basic needs here in our community, one of the most affluent regions in the world.
We take a comprehensive approach to poverty alleviation and invest in four key areas: education, employment, housing and health. Of these, we know that providing high-quality education is one of the best ways to break the cycle of poverty for good. When an individual graduates from college, he or she doubles their lifetime earnings, and paves the way for future generations of their families to pursue the path to and through college.
On Tuesday, April 14*, the Franklin-McKinley School Board will vote on Rocketship’s charter petition to open our third school in the district. Our partnership with the district has been an exciting collaboration for the past five years, starting with the opening of Mosaic Elementary in 2011 and continuing with the launch of Spark Academy two years later.
At Rocketship, we implement many systems to ensure students receive an education personalized to their needs. Through structures like the Learning Lab and our data-driven instruction, we give our students practice with the skills they need when they need it. Through teaching and ongoing development as an educator at Rocketship, I have been able to experience how our organization continues to improve and refine our blended learning practices.
The next time you’re in Nashville, I want to take you to visit 320 Plus Park Boulevard. That’s where we recently started the full-scale renovation of a building that will house the second Rocketship elementary school in Nashville next fall. (For those keeping tally – that’s two schools opening in the past two years, set to serve nearly 1,000 Rocketeers in total). I expect that in the coming months I’ll write more about the surrounding neighborhood as our team deepens roots in the community, but as it’s only January, I wanted to write a little about what it means to be the first expanding Rocketship region outside of the Bay Area.