Schools That Are Thriving Know How to Engage Parents

Time passes quickly. I remember taking my twins to preschool near my house for the first time, and in the blink of an eye, it was time for them to start kindergarten. A few of my family members had older children who attended the Rocketship school Mateo Sheedy and they always spoke highly of it. I knew that would be the school I wanted my children to attend.

When it was time to enroll my twins I made a visit to Rocketship. Everyone was very friendly and I was fortunate to secure their enrollment. My twins are now in the third grade and my daughter is in first. The education they have received so far has been outstanding. The nurture and care the educators have for the students is genuine and their communication with the parents is also excellent. 

The support staff at the school is also wonderful. Miss Aned, the school secretary, is always ready to help parents with whatever we might need. Everyone does a great job getting information to families; we are a priority. I think this is important in the school’s culture. The school staff and families working together only benefits the students.

In the fall of 2019 my school’s administrators notified the parents that our school renewal was coming up. I wondered what this meant and how the process would be. I then met Mrs. Sol Uribe, a very involved school advocate who had been helping spread the word about different issues for a long time. She helped me understand the importance of parent engagement. Mrs. Uribe invited me to be part of the parent group who helped lead different initiatives. All parents were welcomed and invited but she was the push I needed to join. There I met Miss Tatiana, who was the group’s organizer. Miss Tatiana guided us in understanding the charter renewal process. My interest to get involved was definitely sparked. Knowing there was a chance our school could be closed scared me very much. 

Our school is like a second family, so I was willing to help in every way I could. I was a mother who had the opportunity to lead a board inquiry and speak up for our parents. I had never done anything like that; it was nerve wracking to sit in a meeting with a member of the Santa Clara County School Board — one of many who would make the decision in our charter renewal. 

Being at the district meeting where the decision to vote yes or no on our charter renewal was a very tense environment. I felt nervous. While sometimes I feel my English is not very good, with Tatiana’s guidance and the support of other parents I was able to speak up and do my part. Hearing our charter renewal was approved was the best news ever. 

I liked being a part of this process, because I know I am a role model for my children. I want them to know it’s important to be courageous and take on tough challenges. They were also able to see the importance of motivation from our peers. They saw other parents at school encourage me to stay involved and that it paid off. That year I was recognized as mom of the year by the parent group. My children were (and are) very proud of their mother.

Since then I have joined other parent groups and am very civically engaged in our community. I am part of the Santa Clara County Charter Schools Coalition, School Site Council of Rocketship Mateo Sheedy, and Vice President at ELAC Parent Council. I do my best to stay involved and inform parents who aren’t able to volunteer. It’s important they know what is happening, and that our collective voice matters in all the meetings that take place for our children. 

I am open and willing to continue learning; I’m especially interested about politics and how decisions are made at every level. I now know this unfortunately plays a very important role in our children’s education. Thanks to Rocketship Mateo Sheedy, I have been able to discover my passion in being involved. I now know parents do make a difference.

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Monica Gutierrez

Monica Gutierrez

Monica Gutierrez is a Rocketship leader at Mateo Sheedy Elementary in San José, California. She lives in East San José with her husband, their adorable twin boys, and their beautiful daughter. Monica was born in Guadalajara, Mexico where she finished her high school education and dreamt of becoming a special needs educator. Monica and her husband came to California looking to give their children a better life and a good education. Currently, Monica is enrolled in English and computer courses to further her education and learn new skills. Monica began getting involved at her children’s school in 2019 when Rocketship Mateo Sheedy was up for charter renewal. Since then Monica has continued being actively involved in her community as a member of the Santa Clara County Parents Coalition; part of Elac within her school, and additional events that support parent involvement and access to high-quality schools for all children.

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