Redwood City: Why our City Needs Schools like Rocketship

Redwood City was founded by our sister city of Colima Mexico. Thirty years ago it was known as the New Italy or ‘la segunda aguililla’ due to its large population of descendents from these areas of Michoacan Mexico. Today things are very different in our community, as we have witnessed some very big changes with wealth rapidly moving in. From my point of view, our kids have suffered the most from these changes, as it has become a normal experience to see their friends and family, since they were babies, leaving the city due to the high cost of living. This creates an uncertainty in the homes of our low-income families, as no one knows for sure what will happen tomorrow.

We must learn from this so that we can look for solutions that will bring stability to our region. That is why Rocketship is important for our community in Redwood City. That is why myself, my husband, and more than 400 other families fought to bring Rocketship to our city five years ago. And that is why we’re fighting again to have our school renewed by the Redwood City School District.

Every day at Rocketship,our kids learn to make a difference in their school, in their home, and in their community. And it is precisely this that our community will need to be able to change the course of history for future generations.

As Latinos, we are increasingly pigeonholed and experiencing prejudice from those who don’t know or understand our culture. But at Rocketship, our children are treated with respect and encouraged to be persistent because they can do anything. In the mornings when Ms. Barboza does launch, she encourages our children to focus on the development of their knowledge and growing their brains everyday. One of the other beautiful things about Rocketship is that the teachers earn the respect of the students instead of demanding it. Mr. Ball is a new teacher for our students and he has already earned that respect and we have seen that in our own son. 

That is why we must all come together to once again take action, just as we did five years ago when our little ones didn’t have school options. We united as a town, without regard for creed or status, so that for the first time in the history of Redwood City a Rocketship school would be approved.

I remember with melancholy that up to eight kids from here traveled all the way to San Jose everyday to go to a Rocketship school in a little old van, but for them it meant traveling toward a better life. This van traveled, carrying the dreams of our kids.

This school has literally cost us blood, sweat, and tears and for this reason we are, from this little corner of the planet, lifting our voices yet again to say that we will do everything possible to defend our school in this process of reauthorization. This school is the result of many hours of work and sacrifices from both kids and their parents who believe that if you believe in it, it is possible.

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Maritza Leal

Maritza Leal

Maritza Leal migrated to the United States at the age of eighteen. She learned English at Canada College. She began a master's degree in theology at Fuller Theological Seminary, and although she has taken a break from her studies, she will continue in the near future. Maritza is Co-founder of the Church of the Nazarene in Concord CA and Co-founder of the Church of God in San Mateo CA. She was the Winner of the Hart Vision Volunteer of the Year Award in 2015 by the California Charter Schools Association. Maritza is also the Co-Founder of the parent group of Innovate Public Schools. She currently works part-time for Rocketship in the Family Engagement department. Maritza is married with three children, who all attend charter schools. Her hobby is singing and teaching parents how to organize to fight for a better world without expecting anything in return.

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