There are always education experts and activists who are talking about improving opportunities for both a better education and life for disadvantaged black youth, but not too many have adopted a mentorship program like the one that one Rocketship Education school in Nashville has taken up. The program is known as “Windows,” and it was started by Chris Evans, an instructor at this school who came across a problem of disruptive young black students at the school, and he realized they needed a personal intervention since they really had no father figure in the home. Evans himself said he grew up in a disadvantaged situation and really had nobody there to help him choose a different road than the usual school-to-prison route, so in keeping with Rocketship Education and their mission of empowering students he decided to start taking these young boys under his wing.
But it isn’t just Evans who spends time having real life conversations about what it’s like growing up in the black community and difficult family situations. Even some older student athletes from HBCUs who know they’re role models have embraced the opportunity to mentor these young students and encourage them to excel academically and break the mold. So far this has created a culture of brotherhood with the students pushing each other to do better, and it’s seen academic progress improve at this Rocketship Education school.
Rocketship Education began in the year 1999 as more of a private Catholic school when a priest named Father Mateo Sheedy realized there were so many children in his parish that didn’t qualify academically for many prestigious universities. So he decided to open a scholarship program, and then some local businessmen decided to expand on that by opening up a school. The first Rocketship Education school was in a local church with limited capacity and an air conditioner that didn’t work. So they raised the funds to open Mateo Sheedy Elementary School in San Jose, CA, but that was just the beginning of the Rocketship Education charter school network.
Today, Rocketship Education has nearly 20 schools that operate in the Bay area, Nashville, Milwaukee and Washington DC. Their mission of empowering students to succeed is built on the following three pillars:
- Personalizing learning so that each individual student can learn the subject the way that best matches their ability
- Talent development which brings out the best in instructors
- Parent power which ensures parents are involved in the education process as well
Rocketship has been not only using innovative approaches to education; they’ve been invested in changing lives and strengthening local communities. Though Father Sheedy is no longer alive today, the leaders have dedicated themselves to keeping his dream alive.
Read more about Rocketship Education here http://chronicleweek.com/2019/04/how-rocketship-education-continues-to-set-the-bar-higher/