What Has Preston Smith Learned in his First 10 Years as the Leader of Rocketship Education?

Rocketship Education was created by Preston Smith and John Danner in Redwood City California over a decade ago, in early 2007. Danner came from a technologically-heavy background, helping implement personalized learning plans that were made possible with tablets, laptops, and top-notch software. Smith has been an educator since the turn of the millennium, spending 100% of his years in low-income areas. As such, he knows what children in these areas need to succeed. Let’s look into several lessons current chief executive officer Preston Smith learned throughout his first years, things that all educators can pick up and put into action.

Teachers should be offered compensation packages with high dollar values and unmatched benefits. This will help widen the pool of candidates who apply to teach. Doing so is important because Rocketship Education has found that teachers willing to change their pedagogical methods, rather than those with lengthy work experiences, provide better educational experiences to their students. Rocketship Education regularly has some of the highest standardized test rankings in the areas its facilities are located in, and this is one of the many reasons supporting it.

Administrators should haul in opinions from every source possible, whether they’ve been formally trained and educated in pedagogical theory and application, or not. Rocketship Education’s status as a charter school means that it receives grants and other funding from governments, simultaneously being able to accept investments from private parties. Admins should solicit and value investors’ opinions, those of community members, fellow teachers from other systems, parents, and every other interested person or party out there. Whether administrators actually use those insights isn’t nearly as important as whether they value them in making decisions.

Students with special needs and learning disabilities should spend a majority of their time at school in general education classes. Most schools do, in fact, require their disabled students to spend fair portions of their days, if not the entirety of their days at school, in segregated special education classrooms. This doesn’t prepare other students for dealing with disabled people, nor does it do so for teachers, and also keeps special needs students out of real-life situations.


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