Rocketship schools are one of the few schools where the parent participates in the hiring of teachers. In the schools, selected parents participate in the actual interview of candidates. In some cases, the candidates attend community meetings where they interact with the parents. They share their goals and get an understanding of the parents’ expectations. Such high level of parental participation is only one unique aspect of Rocketship Education’s network of schools.
Rocketship Education Foundation’s primary objective is to offer affordable education services to high poverty communities. The founders of the organization, John Danner, and Preston Smith desired to improve the academic performance of students from less privileged families through cheap schools. Consequently, they designed the financial model of the schools to ensure they can run smoothly on government support only. Unlike other chartered schools, Rocketship schools do not require private funding besides the initial start-up cost.
The curriculum of the schools is also different from other public schools. On top of the traditional curriculum, Rocketship schools have Kimochis curriculum and a social-emotional curriculum. The Kimochis curriculum is used to teach personality traits and temperaments to students in early grades. As they join upper classes, are taught socio-emotional skills. Rocketship Education embraced these curricula because it understood that many students from poor backgrounds find it difficult to develop appropriate social skills for success in life.
Values and Creed
Every school has a motto or creed. Rocketship schools have four shared values. Each school has an additional value that depicts its unique characteristics, vision and or mission. All the students are required to bring these values into practice in their school lives as well as in the society. The four shared values are Persistence, Empathy, Responsibility, and respect. The fifth values chosen by some of the schools include Bravery, Service, Curiosity, and Gratitude.
The main supporters of Rocketship programs are parents. These key stakeholders feel like part of the actual operations of the schools and are therefore obliged to defend them. In May 2017, for example, parents of Rocketship schools joined 374 other parents to sign an open letter to Metro Nashville Public Schools board asking them to stop maligning the institutions.