As the Parent of a Special Needs Child, I Support Reauthorizing the Charter for Rocketship Redwood City Prep

My name is Abigail Lopez, and I am a parent leader and a mom at Rocketship Redwood City Prep. My school is currently requesting the reauthorization of our charter for another five years. I recently gave testimony at our public hearing with the Redwood City School District, and I wanted to share my testimony with the parent community so that more families understand the importance of keeping Rocketship Redwood City open.

My daughter Kimi was diagnosed with nonverbal autism at the age of two, and I would like to tell you a little about our experience at Rocketship Redwood City Prep.

When Kimi was diagnosed, she started with early intervention programs with our healthcare providers. But at the age of three, the school district took over her services. They put her in a special class with kids that had various diagnoses. I wanted her to be in a general ed class with someone there to support her. I knew that in a general ed class she could copy the behaviors of the other students and that it would help her to advance academically. She would also advance socially by interacting with other students and learning from them how to act.

For three years, I kept asking for support within a regular classroom, and the district never gave it to us. What Kimi had learned in early intervention, she lost quickly in the district class. Because of this, when Kimi entered kindergarten, she wasn’t academically or socially prepared. She needs specific tools in the class to be successful – for example a permanent assistant, visual instructions, and other supports. Yet no matter how many times I requested this, we were turned down.  

Instead of learning in school, Kimi learned all of the essentials of kindergarten in the house with me. She was isolated from the other kids just to color and wasn’t allowed to participate in activities. She always cried on the way to school and when I picked her up. Neither of us were happy, and I was desperate for another option.

One day, I arrived at church, and someone there mentioned Rocketship to me. I decided to come and ask for information. I spoke with Rocketship Redwood City Prep Office Manager, Ms. Duran, about all the questions I had regarding students with special needs and all the services that Kimi was afforded through the district. It turns out Rocketship offered these services and a lot more. I decided to enroll Kimi because I heard that Rocketship adapts to the mode of learning of each individual child. I had an IEP meeting with the special needs team at Rocketship where I explained to them the services she needed and her academic history. Rocketship offered her all of those services, including a permanent paraeducator.

In just six months, my daughter has experienced profound changes in her academic achievement. She has learned so many words that she can already read certain sentences without being able to speak. The change in her behavior is also amazingly different since coming to Rocketship. During school and when I come to pick her up, she is happy — she jumps, runs and rejoices. Now I never see her with a sad face at home, and she is happy when she is doing her homework.

For this reason, I believe that Rocketship is the best option because the growth of my daughter academically and personally has been enormous. I don’t know what we would do without Rocketship and the support they give to Kimi.

What do you think?

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Abigail Lopez

Abigail Lopez

Abigail migrated to the US at age 16 and finished high school at Sequoia High School. She continued her education through Heald College where she studied business administration with an emphasis in accounting. Unfortunately, the school closed before she was able to graduate. She got married and her daughter Kimi came into their lives so she decided to suspend her studies. She was able to get her property and casualty as well as her life license and began working as an Insurance agent, through her job she was able to also work in the community volunteering on food banks and also in renovating schools. Currently she is a stay home mom to be able to be full time with Kimi and have time to go to her therapies and meetings. Her goal is to go back to school and get her degree in Social Services because she wants to become a social worker and be able to help kids with special needs similar to her daughter.

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