CEO Preston Smith Talks About What He’s Learned Heading Up Rocketship Education

As a co-founder and chief executive officer of Rocketship Education, Preston Smith says that he’s learned some valuable lessons over the past several years. He says that his organization remains a work in progress as they learn the best ways to help their students and broader communities in which his schools are located.

The biggest lesson Preston Smith says he has learned is that it’s the child’s home that is a huge part of serving students. Due to this every year the student’s teacher makes an annual visit to their home. This helps to develop a deeper relationship between Rocketship Education’s staff and the parent’s of students.

Preston Smith says that while many interested parties think his school should educate children K-12 there’s a good reason they stop at 5th grade. He says the main reason they do this is that they want the student’s and their parents to push public schools after grade to make improvements. He also thinks it would undermine his organization’s mission to teach students all the way through 12th grade because they wouldn’t realistically be able to engage with parents as much as they presently do if they went that route.

Another lesson Preston Smith says he learned is that the actions you take really do say more about you than what you say. When he co-founded Rocketship Education 10 years ago he didn’t have children yet. Now that he has two he has chosen to have them attend a Rocketship Education school. First, he wanted them to attend a really good school. Second, he says he couldn’t very well send them to another school because that would look hypocritical.

Rocketship Education is known for personalized learning. This involves using technology to teach children as well as plenty of teacher-led instruction. It is a charter school system with its headquarters in Redwood City, California. It is operated on a nonprofit basis and their goal is to close the achievement gap that exists between students that come from lower income households as compared to higher income households. They heavily involve parents and help them become advocates for their child’s educational needs.