I attended Rocketship when it first opened in 2007. My mom was a single mother of 3 who worked six days a week and her therapist recommended the school because they provided mandatory after-school programs. Prior to attending, my mom would pay friends to watch me and my siblings until she got off work, so this opportunity really alleviated some of the stress on her plate. However, what started as a decision that was convenient for my mom’s busy schedule, turned into a long-term impact on my life. I’m proud to say that I now work as a CareCorps Coordinator at the same Rocketship school that molded my young mind.
Rocketship is like a supportive family that pushes you to grow and be the best. I would call it a family because the work Rocketship does go beyond the classroom. Teachers make home-visits and get to know their students’ families on a personal level. Parents form relationships with teachers so that they feel comfortable voicing their opinions and getting involved. Rocketship values parent concerns because they recognize how difficult it can be to engage children. This is why Rocketship constantly asks for parent input at community meetings and challenges families to grow by asking them to share what changes they’d like to see at school.
I think what’s especially valuable about the Rocketship community is its educators. I had multiple mentors at Rocketship who impacted my life, but if anyone can say they saw me grow, it’s Ms. Guerrero. She was my 3rd/ 4th grade teacher and she’s actually the reason I now work at Rocketship. She met me and my family when I was only 8-years-old and invested in us when we were only seeds. Ms. Guerrero has always believed that student success is directly affected by their situation at home, which is why she used to help my mom in whatever way she could. I clearly remember this one Saturday where we spent the whole day with Ms. Guerrero. My siblings and I went to her house and we cooked with her. It’s a lovely memory, but it became even more significant when I realized she was doing my mom a favor by watching us. Ms. Guerrero has always had heart in her hussle. She was more than just a teacher, she was part of my family’s team and I think her spirit truly embodies what Rocketship is all about.
Aside from laying a foundation for mentorship and friendship, Rocketship also taught me important life skills at an early age. A memory that’s stuck with me was a time I had with our principal Mr. Smith. I was nervous to shake Mr. Smith’s hand. He stopped me and said, “That was a weak handshake. The first thing an employer will notice during an interview is your handshake. I know you’re not weak, so show me. Lock eyes with me when you’re talking and try again with a firm handshake.” I was only 8 years old and, to this day, I still use this advice in professional settings.
Sure, Rocketship gave me a great education to succeed in life, but, truthfully, that wasn’t the most important thing I gained during my years as a student there. This community taught me about the value of building relationships and putting in work to become the best version of yourself. Rocketship helped me build my confidence and become my greatest advocate. Most importantly, they taught me the importance of my voice.
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