Thank you Rocketship Fuerza Teachers, You’ve Given Me Some Peace of Mind

Making the decision to move from California to Texas, and having our youngest child finish out the year at her current school, is not a decision myself and husband took lightly. One of the reasons we decided to let her stay with my husband in California, while I got our home in Texas ready, was that she was finishing her last year at Rocketship Fuerza Community Prep. I had already built relationships with our school community over the past 6 years, so when it came to supporting my family during this time of transition, I knew I could count on my village! 

I left for Texas on March 13th – it was announced that schools would be closing on March 16th. Distance learning started for Gigi a few days later. This consisted of Live Launch, lunch recipes, PE fitness videos, Folklorico dance videos, and science and engineering videos all posted on the FB school group. There were also videos of teachers teaching posted on google classrooms, assignments on google classrooms, online learning programs, and social emotional learning to help students during this new environment. All this was put in place by educators, within 3 days! Things were not perfect (there were understandably some technical issues) but families received support to help resolve them. The school even sent out chrome books to students who had not received one. Even through the questions and uncertainties in the beginning, I was grateful, because many schools had not provided anything to their students in that first week. I was grateful that Gigi was still learning, and had contact with her teachers. 

Besides setting up students to continue learning from home, our school also set up to-go meals for families to pick up at breakfast and lunch. Our network gathered resources for families, and created CareCorps, which has staff assigned to check on every student daily to make sure they are safe. If they need assistance, they help provide resources for the family. Besides live teaching daily, teachers reach out to students weekly to check in one-on-one. 

The school holds weekly virtual cafecitos to keep families updated and provide a space for families to share or ask questions. In the second week of April, our teachers started live teaching daily. Gigi has a daily schedule to log into class. Her classroom is now virtual, but she enjoys the opportunity to see her teachers and classmates. While she works on assignments and online learning programs independently, she can still call her teachers when she has a question or needs additional explanation. Her teachers are always available, and we appreciate that so much. 

Since my husband returned to work, and I am out of state, I reached out to our school principal and teachers for extra support to check in on Gigi. I deeply appreciate their partnership, especially during this pandemic where every family has different needs. They are going above and beyond to reach out and support us in every way possible. 

I am grateful that Gigi does not feel alone during this pandemic, we have a village supporting us, literally, every step of the way. For the past 6 years we have been blessed to be part of a school community who genuinely cares for all their students and pushes their students to reach their full potential. I created partnerships with school leaders and Gigi’s teachers that support her academically and emotionally. THANK YOU to every single teacher at Rocketship Fuerza, who has and continues to go above and beyond for our community. Our students in East San Jose need you more than ever! I am profoundly grateful to have teachers who care and want to teach all our Rocketeers. 

Special THANK YOU to Ms. Lopez, Ms. Mireles, and Ms. Murillo who are currently Gigi’s 4th grade teachers and who have stepped up when I reached out with concerns, or needed extra support. I deeply appreciate your partnership. Your passion and dedication stand out and we will be forever grateful! GRACIAS Ms. Carbajal for your passion and dedication to teach dance to all our Rocketeers! Thanks to you, Gigi has learned “el amor al baile”, and has learned to appreciate the dance of many cultures. Thank you to all enrichment teachers who exposed our Rocketeers, to creativity with engineering, art, physical education, sports, and cultures. Thank you to all her lunch teachers who made sure she ate lunch daily and sometimes called me when they realized that Gigi may not want what was on the lunch menu. 

Thank you to all teachers at Rocketship Fuerza Community Prep. I have seen so many dedicated and passionate educators at Fuerza, our community in East San Jose has been so blessed to have amazing educators who truly care for their students and motivate them to not give up. Thank you to all the teachers Gigi has had since TK at Rocketship Fuerza, each one has treated her with respect and helped unleash her potential.        

To think that six years ago, the district denied our charter petition to open our school, yet parents, including myself, appealed to the county and fought until we received approval from our county board to open Fuerza! That fight was worth it, for the experience that Gigi has received is beyond my expectations, especially during this pandemic. The inequities in our education system are at the surface more than ever due to this pandemic, yet I don’t see our elected officials creating policies that will put students first and make sure that all of our students in every community – regardless of income or race, are still being educated during this pandemic. We cannot stop time; our children will continue to get older, so they need to continue to learn. Although it’s not easy for us families, it’s possible with the support of amazing teachers and an amazing school community. Our school has worked hard to get 96.8% of our families access to the internet, and they are continuing to work on it. 

No words can express our gratitude, Gigi has received a well-rounded education. The saying “To Teach is to Touch a Life Forever” describes what you have done for our students. Thank you from the bottom of our heart for all that you have done and continue to do for our Rocketeers at Rocketship Fuerza Community Prep!

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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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