At Rocketship Fuerza, the New School Year Begins Before the Official First Day of School

A new school year for our youngest daughter, Gianna, began before the official first day of school. Gianna is currently a 3rd grader at Rocketship Fuerza. What I like about Rocketship is that every year teachers do home visits with their students. We have been having home visits since Gianna began TK (transitional kindergarten) at Rocketship Fuerza. I have to admit, four years ago, I was nervous about having my daughter’s teacher come to our home. I didn’t know what to expect, and I was nervous for my daughter’s teacher to see how chaotic and loud our home can be. But after that first home visit four years ago, I appreciate and look forward to every home visit each year, because it is an opportunity for us to build a relationship with her teachers and to learn about each other.

This year, Gianna’s literacy teacher joined us for an early dinner, a house full of kids and company; she got a taste of how it is on a daily basis. She learned what Gianna’s atmosphere is after school and at the same time, tasted my mama’s yummy mole, rice, and milanesa. We talked about our goals for Gianna, and she learned more about Gianna as a student and outside of class, all over a delicious meal.

Rocketship Fuerza also holds a Back-to-School BBQ and orientations before the first day of school. I appreciate the opportunity to get together with our school leaders, teachers, and families at our Back-to-School BBQ to catch up and learn who my daughter’s teacher will be and which cohort she will be in. Gianna gets excited to learn who will be in her class, as well as meeting her teachers. At the back to school BBQ, school leaders introduce all teachers and staff; students have the opportunity to not only see their friends, but also interact with their teachers. Parents not only have the opportunity to meet our children’s teachers, but also interact with each other. We are a community at Rocketship Fuerza, and you feel the sense of community at the BBQ.

At the school orientations, school leaders talk about the history of Rocketship Fuerza and how we struggled and succeeded to get the approval for our school four years ago. I believe that knowing the history and vision of the school is essential to appreciate the choice that we made as parents. Sometimes we need a reminder. We also learn or are reminded of school procedures, fill out and update our student’s emergency cards, receive the parent handbook, and we receive our dismissal student “pick-up” cards, so that we are ready on the first day of school. We also have the opportunity to ask questions and learn more about what to expect on the first day of school. I truly appreciate the school staff for all they do to keep our children safe at school.

This year, Rocketship Fuerza also had a Ready to Launch, where students were able to go to school for about two hours for a sneak peak of how their day will be like. Gianna was super excited to be back at school for a couple hours and to interact with her teachers.

On the first day of school, Gianna and I were both ready to start a new year, looking forward to challenges and growth, to making more memories, reconnecting with friends and making new friends. Watching the first launch of the school year gave me goosebumps as I saw all students, teachers, and school leaders reciting the school creed, dancing and singing to start their day, I was comfortable to leave my daughter in a school community where I have many watching over her daily.

Before the first day of school, I built relationships with Gianna’s teachers and school leaders and I had the opportunity to volunteer in her school. We are partners in my daughter’s education, and I value our partnership. It really does take a village to raise a child, and I am proud that we chose a school where we have support. We are a community!

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Lety Gomez

Lety Gomez

Lety Gómez was born and raised in East San Jose. She is married with three children. She is proud to be the first in her family to attend college and receive a bachelor’s degree. When she was a teenager, Fr. Mateo Sheedy was the pastor of her parish, Sacred Heart of Jesus. She fondly remembers his passion for social justice, especially justice for the immigrant community in San Jose and ensuring that the parish youth had access to high quality education. Fr. Mateo instilled in her his passion for social justice, but for many years it was kept unlit, deep inside of her. It wasn’t until her youngest daughter was enrolled at Rocketship Fuerza Community Prep in 2014 that her passion for social justice lit up. Thanks to the Rocketship parent organizer at that time, Lety received training and the tools to use her voice for social justice and learned about community organizing. She is proud to be one of the many parents who worked hard to open their school, knowing that the kids needed and deserved a better public school. That struggle is why they named their school Rocketship Fuerza Community Prep. “Fuerza” is the Spanish word for force, strength, or power. Her passion for advocating for equity in education has allowed her to be a voice for other parents in her community who seek high quality education options. In 2014, she chaired the first parent-led Mayoral candidates forum in San Jose, where she realized the power parents have to create change in their communities. She wants to share her story with other parents in an effort to motivate them to get involved so they can advocate together, because united, they can make a change in the educational system and in their communities. In 2020 Lety moved to Texas, where she continues to advocate for equity in public education and school choice across our country.

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