Because teachers assume the legal responsibility of parental status (in loco parentis) with their students, they play a significant role in the formation of not only students’ minds but their characters, as well. How often do audiences hear speakers reference the positive and powerful influence certain teachers have had upon them? So often, too, former students allude to the warmth, encouragement, and support of teachers that motivated them and gave them the confidence to achieve beyond their expectations. Without question, competent, innovative, and caring teachers make a difference in many students’ lives. Those teachers who enter the field of education after having worked in the private sector bring additional insights and experiences from which students can benefit. For they can exemplify concepts being taught by using actual incidents and observations and experiences of business people and local politicians. With such worldly information, these teachers can underscore the importance of vital concepts. Often students are more attentive to these worldly teachers, realizing that their instructors speak from experience in their genuine desire to help them.
Unfortunately, like so many public institutions, public schools have become burdened with governmental regulations and restrictions, as well as other factors that have led to disappointing outcomes. To remedy some of the ills of the public schools, many urban communities have formed charter schools. These are independently run public schools that have autonomy from state and local rules concerning staffing and budget management. Although they receive some funding, public charter schools do not receive as many funds as do other public schools. Therefore, donations from individuals and grants are needed to sustain the charter school. Typically, each public charter school has a performance contract (the charter) that establishes the school’s mission, its programs, performance goals, and means of assessment for the students that it serves. If the public charter school does not meet these established performance goals, it can be closed. To assure success, urban charter schools sometimes form a network, such as Rocketship Education, which has its headquarters in Redwood City, California.
Founded by Preston Smith and John Danner in 2006, Rocketship Education, which covers kindergarten through fifth grade, opened its first charter school in 2007 in San Jose, California. This city is in the county of Santa Clara, a productive agricultural area that is culturally diverse. In its first year, the new charter school’s students scored as high on the California assessment as the students in the prestigious Palo Alto School District. After this accomplishment, Rocketship Education received much recognition and praise for being an innovative educational alternative to traditional public schools. With this success, Rocketship expanded to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 2013. The next year, a school in Nashville was opened, and in 2016 another school in Washington, D.C. opened its doors to urban students. In each of these schools, alternative curriculums and new and creative methods have engaged the students. With adaptive technology, innovative ideas, and targeted tutoring by caring educators, students from low-income neighborhoods for whom there were once low expectations are achieving success in the non-profit charter school network known as Rocketship.