Rocketship Education was formed by John Danner and Preston Smith over a decade ago. Although the group founded it in 2006, its first academic year actually wasn’t until the fall semester of 2007, when a class was held in a San Diego church, prior to Rocketship Education being able to haul in enough funding to purchase the many things it’s able to today.
Mr. Smith started his career as a childhood educator with the Arbuckle Elementary School, where he was fortunate enough to win an award while teaching. After three years, he was part of an independent party that helped push for the foundation of a brand-new school, called the L.U.C.H.A. Elementary School, where he was its very first principal, overseeing the growth from 120 students to 250 – more than doubling its enrollment – and having its endowment grow from $1 million to the high $2 millions.
The state of California’s test to measure performance between schools, the API, was a source of continuous improvement for the school, as it rose from 753 to 881 in Mr. Smith’s final year with the organization.
Having spent the past ten years with Rocketship Education and several years before that as a school founder and administrator, Mr. Smith has experienced several life lessons and points of learning that he shared with the Internet in August of 2017, just a few months ago. Here are some of the strongest, most meaningful takeaways from his experience with the nonprofit charter school thus far.
Personalized learning, one of the core pillars of RSED, is significantly aided when teachers take field visits to each of their student’s homes, allowing them to have a first-hand look at how they live. This is important to boost the efficacy of personalized learning methods.
Without parents, Mr. Smith found that administrating, as usual, was loads more difficult than without these key human building blocks. RSED has taken an innovative step in the field of education, bringing them to interviews and having them screen new applicants. This works best, as one might believe, when they’re properly trained first – as RSED always does for weeks at a time, prior to interviews.