This Stop Six charter school meets daycare centers

A render shows the exterior of the Rocketship Public Charter Elementary School which will open in Stop Six on East Berry Street.

A render shows the exterior of the Rocketship Public Charter Elementary School which will open in the Stop Six neighborhood on East Berry Street.


Community leaders, administrators and advocates gathered at the future site of a charter primary school that has yet to be named in the Stop Six district Wednesday after years of planning and a sometimes contentious approval process that ended in June.

SaJade Miller, former administrator and principal of ISD Fort Worth who is the superintendent of public schools in Rocketship, Texas, spoke about his vision of providing first-class education for the benefit of the community and the school district as the students move on to college and high school. in the neighborhood.

“There is a unique character and spirit to this community, and I’m thrilled to be a part of it once again, but on behalf of… Rocketship, Texas,” he said. “We are building a true community school, by parents, for parents that will holistically meet the needs of our students. “

The school, which is under construction at 3520 E. Berry St., will be a two-story elementary school with 22 classrooms, two learning labs and a gymnasium.

Rocketship Public Schools are a California based charter operator with school programs in Washington, DC, Tennessee and Wisconsin. They plan to operate more schools in Texas, but the location opened in Fort Worth is the first.

Christina Hanson, the founding director of the campus, grew up in the neighborhood and said the campus will provide residents with a community-integrated educational experience, with particular attention to parent involvement.

“I have always been committed to serving,” said Hanson. “And all of my 15 years in education have been spent here serving my community, and I wouldn’t have done it any other way.

Community relations efforts started early, with meetings taking place when the school first sought recognition by the State Board of Education in 2019.

Partnering with child care providers

The charter school also contacted future partners when they first entered the community.

Angela James Davis met a Rocketship employee at a Christmas party in 2019 and explained that she works at a daycare, the Sunrise Early Learning and Development Center.

“The next thing I knew was that she showed up on my doorstep with all kinds of literature, welcome packs and more,” Davis said. “She asked me what I would like to see.”

Through direct outreach like this, monthly meetings and phone calls, school representatives made it their business to build relationships with preschool learning centers around the school.

Miller, the superintendent, said the need for a community-wide commitment to education became clear when he worked at the campus and administration level at Fort Worth ISD.

“I realized that it’s really a bigger ecosystem that really has an impact on achievements at all levels,” he said. “This is why we strategically partner with early childhood centers.

There are 22 preschool learning centers within three miles of the new campus, and Miller said school officials have met them all.

“We all know them by name and face them all, and we will back them up with professional development, resources and support, so that we can ensure that students at the youngest level have what they need to be successful.” , did he declare.

This early intervention will also benefit students when they transition from charter school to school district when they go to college, Miller said.

Some providers, like Tabitha Alford, said they rarely heard from school district officials, let alone received offers of program and professional development assistance before the charter entered the neighborhood.

“It’s important because you want to make sure that when the kids leave daycare they move on to a school that will continue their education,” Alford said.

Davis said the charter school had helped him hone his family engagement skills, which is important to the community.

Dimitri Demps, who runs the Faith Academy Learning Center LLC in the neighborhood, said the first collaboration will benefit the community in the long run.

“We have our own program, but it’s very important that we work with the schools, so when our 3-4 year olds turn to 5 years old, we can see them grow up,” she said. “Rocketship is part of who we stand for, and a team we want to be a part of to take them to the next level.”

Demps said she also has a relationship with Fort Worth ISD and does not view Rocketship’s new addition to the community as a competition.

Future plans

While Rocketship Public Schools Texas plans to operate other elementary schools in Tarrant County, Miller said there are no plans to expand beyond fifth grade in the Stop Six neighborhood.

“Intentionally, we’re a pre-K five-only model, ”Miller said. “Because we want to work with (school districts). We are not trying to create a parallel school system, we are trying to address a specific need for early learning in this community so that students can … use their voice to return to the school of their choice.

But parents, elected officials and community members pointed to the neighborhood’s chronically underperforming public schools as a catalyst for charter school.

Yolanda Seban, who has four children, drove to Austin to express support for campus before the National Board of Education.

“ISDs have been around for a very long time,” she told the Star-Telegram. “For a very long time, that’s all we had.”

Her local school’s low level of accountability led her to explore charter schools before Rocketship even considered opening a school in Texas and prompted her to support it.

“They really came into the community to find out what was going on,” she said of the first meetings. “It wasn’t a facade… they asked the right questions.”

Gyna Bivens, City Councilor of Stop Six, greeted Seban, and also thanked state officials for approving the charter school’s candidacy.

“You can look around the ISD schools in Fort Worth and I’m not casting any kind of shadow,” she said. “But if there is a way to provide your children with a quality education, I admire you for leaving that path.”

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Isaac Windes covers early childhood education as part of Star-Telegram’s Crossroads Lab. The position is funded with assistance from the Morris Foundation. Windes is a graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University. Before coming to the Star-Telegram, he wrote about schools and colleges in Southeast Texas for the Beaumont Company. He was born and raised in Tucson, Arizona. Please ask your questions about early childhood education. Email: [email protected] or call or text to (817) 668-5449. Follow Isaac on Twitter @isaacdwindes

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