Rocketship Education Giving Low-Income Neighborhood Fighting Chance

Rocketship Education is a network of non-profit elementary charter schools that enroll students from the low-income neighborhood. The network was established to give excellent curriculum which was limited in those areas. In 1999, a Pastor of Sacred Heart Parish, Father Mateo Sheedy created the Juan Diego Scholarship to Santa Clara University. He noted that a large number of children in his parish did not have the basic education to qualify for those prestigious colleges. After his death, two education entrepreneurs, John Danner and Preston Smith continued his legacy and opened the Rocketship Mateo Sheedy Elementary in 2007.


Currently, the Rocketship Education has eighteen schools serving Milwaukee, Washington DC, Bay Area and Nashville communities. The network of schools had to look for a system that will narrow the gap between the expensive private schools and public schools performance. Rocketship understands that each child is different. They find a way to let them study in their way while combining tutoring, traditional instructions, and technology. The schools encourage parents to be advocates for their children and then put an effort in training teachers. This ensures there is a positive impact on students and the larger community.

The culture

Rocketship encourages a positive culture to the students, teachers, and parents. The schools have five core values that they expect everyone to follow: responsibility, respect, persistence, empathy, and gratitude. They recently came up with a strategy that will show gratitude between students. Each student is expected to write on a piece of paper what they appreciate about other students. After seven days, a student gets seven papers that show who is grateful and for what.

Parents of Rocketship Education are involved in interviewing teachers who want to join the school. In many schools, parents do not get the chance meet their children’s teachers until when school is opened but Rocketship thought it is beneficial if parents get involved as early as during interviews. The network of schools also want to create a sense of community, and that is why they opened the new school in Ward 8. Even though the community is considered unsafe, Rocketship officials said they want to operate more like a neighborhood school.