It Takes a Village: Grateful for Mine at Rocketship Fuerza Community Prep

For the past six years, Rocketship Fuerza Community Prep has been our second home. We’ve built many relationships that have become part of our extended familia. My youngest daughter Gianna started in transitional kinder (TK) and has now completed fourth grade. If you would have told me six years ago how this school year would end, I would not have believed it. To be honest, going through this pandemic while Gigi was still a student at Rocketship Fuerza has been a true blessing. She recently expressed that she’s felt motivated by all her teachers, and developed the ganas and persistence to never give up. I know that she will carry that with her as she continues her education at a new school, in a new state. 

I can’t help but get emotional as I reflect on the journey to find high quality schools for my children. My two oldest did not receive the strong foundation that Gigi received at Rocketship Fuerza. They’ve also noticed the difference. As I mentioned in a previous blog, I was not motivated in school; I wasn’t pushed to reach my full potential. My freshman year, my science teacher told me that I “wasn’t going to college, so why bother.” I moved to try and find better school options for my two oldest. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. Teachers would play a movie when they didn’t feel like teaching. That happened way too many times during their high school years. An assistant principal also talked down to my son. The one thing I was trying to avoid – and it happened right in front of me! 

At Rocketship Fuerza, I knew Gigi would receive a high quality education. What I didn’t know was that she would be pushed to her full potential (besides academics) as a whole child. Social emotional learning helped Gigi to not be shy, to be empathic of her classmates, to stand up against injustice, and helped her express her emotions in a healthy way. Gigi learned about her cultura and her classmates cultures, she found el amor al baile. She performed in front of large crowds at our annual spring concert. She was timid during her first performance in TK, but by the end of the year, she was performing with confidence on stage. Gigi learned to speak in front of classmates through project presentations. She presented in front of her class and even in front of her school. For our five year charter renewal, Gigi shared her testimony in front of the county school board; she spoke so confidently in her folklorico dress, that it brought tears to my eyes. I didn’t learn the importance of using my voice and sharing my story, until six years ago, when I was working with parents from my community to bring Rocketship Fuerza to our community of East San Jose. I am thankful for the well-rounded education Gigi received at Rocketship Fuerza. This strong foundation will help her for the rest of her life. 

To our founding school leader, Maricela Guerrero, you inspired me to luchar, to advocate, to never give up. You pushed me to my full potential, more than I could ever imagine. Thank you for your leadership and for your passion to fight for education equity for all students! Thank you for loving my Gigi and supporting her beyond the walls of our school community.  

To our current school leader, Juan Mateos, thank you for taking the torch from Maricela, but making it your own leadership style to continue moving our school community forward. Thank you for sharing your story with families, and for your dedication and fight to close the achievement gap. Thank you for leading our school to be recognized as a California Distinguished School 2020! 

Ms. Jaimes – Comadre, thank you for always watching over my butterfly diva. Thank you for loving her, for supporting her and caring for her. We became friends and now you are part of my extended familia. Keep working hard for all families at Fuerza. You are an amazing office manager!!! 

Ms. Gonzalez – You inspired Gigi to love learning in TK. We miss you at Fuerza, but happy you are still at Rocketship inspiring more students! 

Ms. Lopez – You are such an inspiration! You never gave up on any of your students and you have impacted their lives in such a positive way! Thank you for your extra support during this pandemic with Gigi, I truly appreciate our partnership. We are so grateful for your support! You are an amazing educator and I know you will continue to inspire more students!

Ms. Bagby – You helped to push Gigi to her full potential, thank you for never giving up on any of your students! I admire your persistence!!

Ms. Mireles– You are amazing!!! No words can express ALL you have done, not only for Gigi, but for all your students! Your dedication shows and we appreciate you so much!! 

Ms. Tapia – You are such a blessing to our school community! You have gone above and beyond for all your students. Thank you for the extra support during this pandemic, we appreciate you so much!! 

Ms. Carbajal – Thank you so much for your passion, for teaching our Rocketeers the importance of their cultura. Thank you for being an advocate for equity in education. Most of all, thank you for loving and caring for my Gigi. Thank you for teaching her el amor al baile

Ms. Martinez – You are not only a passionate advocate for equity in education, but you pour that passion into your students and you inspire them to keep luchando! Thank you for your support with Gigi, I could not be more proud of having you as my niece. 

Ms. Gomez – Daughter, you inspire me to keep advocating for ALL students. You are an amazing educator, your passion for your students shows and I could not be more proud to call you mi hija

Ms. Lujan, Ms. Owens, Ms. Plazola, Ms. Duran, Mr. Henson, Ms. Figueroa, Ms. Lydia, Ms. Lorena, Ms. Deicy, Ms. Lupe, Ms. Neveras, Ms. Vasquez, and ALL STAFF at Rocketship Fuerza – YOUR WORK MATTERS! Keep working hard for the students of East San Jose. Keep believing in ALL students. Keep pushing them to their full potential and keep working hard to close the achievement gap in our lifetime! Thank you for loving our Rocketeers and for supporting them beyond the walls of our school community. 

Thank you Rocketship Fuerza Community Prep for the love and support you have poured on my family. All your love and support shows even more during this pandemic. Thank you for being part of our village the past six years! Thank you for helping both Gigi and I spread our wings. No words can express our gratitude. As we transition to Texas, I pray that we find even a fraction of the support in our new school community as we have received from y’all!

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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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