Professional Development Program of Rocketship Education

The Professional Development Program of Rocketship Education is a privilege for Rocketship teachers who have been serving the institution for three years or more. This program allows the teacher to take $1000 to engage in any form of professional development that they want. Most of the teachers went to conferences, attended various seminars, or appeared in a series of lectures to develop their crafts and their selves. One teacher made a unique choice that changes the way she looks at teaching and made her rethink of her efficiency and competency as a teacher.

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Becoming A Student

Emma Volpe is the Lead EL Specialist at Rocketship United Academy. She used to be the founding humanities teacher for the third-grade students at Rocketship United. She is also a member of the Teach For America Nashville Corps. Emma heard about the network’s Professional Development program in 2015 when her teammates told her about it. With a classroom mainly composed of kids from Spanish-speaking families, Emma knows she could do most out of the $1000 offered in the program.

She decided to be a language student and traveled to Antigua in Guatemala. Emma knew that her experience as a student would give her a glimpse of the process that her students face every day. She participated in an immersion program in Antigua taking advantage of the fact that some of her students are from Central America, Honduras, Guatemala, and Mexico to name a few. In addition, she chose an immersion program where she could get the chance to live with the host family.

The experience totally immersed her to the culture of the place, traveling every day using public transportation and finding her way through different places in Spanish. Being a student, she started her first day at school with an orientation and took a Spanish placement test. As a student, she applied the things she taught her students to do at school: listen, read, speak, and write. She also used the skills she constantly teaches her students like context clues and elimination process among others.

Her morning and afternoon time were spent at school learning the Spanish language while she spent her evenings exploring Antigua. She also talks often with her host family to enhance her Spanish comprehension and language skill. For an entire week, Emma was a student. While it was just a short experience, she went home with a different perspective. She was able to gain an understanding of language acquisition from the point of view of a student. In addition, she was able to immerse herself in the culture to be able to understand her students and their families more. The Spanish skills that she learned equipped her to effectively communicate with her students and their families in a much better way.

What is Rocketship?

Rocketship Education is a system composed of public K-5 charter schools primarily intended for students from low-income families who have limited access to excellent schools. It utilizes a combination of adaptive technology, traditional instruction, and targeted tutoring. The network endeavors to meet the distinct needs of every student. They believe that a genuinely transformative education system does not only educate the students but also engages parents, empowers teachers, and inspires communities.

The mission of Rocketship Education is to eradicate the achievement gap in this lifetime. The network has been constantly innovating since it was founded in 2006. Since then, it has rapidly expanded and has opened one of the three new schools every year. In 2014, it opened another school in Nashville. It also has received approval to open schools in Washington DC, Memphis, New Orleans, and Indianapolis. In 2017, the network debuted QueenHype. It is an empowerment program for girls, which concentrates on communication that was initially launched in Discovery Prep. It opened its 21st school in Antioch in the Bay Area in 2018.

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