After 20 years in the hi-tech industry, Judith McGarry, a talented marketing manager, joined John Danner at Rocketship Education.  The following are a few notes from a City Prep site visit with her:

Rocketship School Model:

  • 500 Students and open enrollment from K-5 to keep it there
  • 16 instructional leaders, Dean & Principal
  • Teachers introduce topics that extend into small group projects
  • 25% student time on computer-based basic skills learning (non-cert supervision)
  • Parents commit to 30 hours of volunteer work and many attend monthly Community Meetings


  • 75% TFA with commitment for 4 new TFA/school/year
  • Potential for leadership role (to principal or dean) in 3 years
  • Teachers have recruiting, home visit responsibilities
  • 8-6pm hour days (but sounds like 7am-7pm for many)
  • 25% higher pay
  • Believe they have/will have comparatively low turnover in teaching staff

Learning lab:

  • Content: DreamBox, Rosetta, Accelerated Reader, Reasoning Mind, Head Sprout
    • embedded assessment of little value
    • big variation in data export ease & transferability
    • common tagging & data management scheme would help
  • Assessment: Promethean and Synaptic Mash
    • little online assessment;  questions are read out loud and kids type into online environment
    • looking for philanthropic support for better assessments

Growth plans (and they’re aggressive):

  • Regions to be led by a vice president
  • Launchpad is an independent real estate facilities developer
  • Powerschools SIS and Google apps for education
  • PD all focused on traditional instructional strategies

Related links:

Danner HuffPost

Video Q&A with Danner, Aug 31

Video Q&A with Danner on Growth Plans, Aug 31

Report from Rocketship advisory, June 22

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  1. Interesting list. Especially
    – The 30 hour parent volunteer. Is that per year? Do meetings count? What roles do they play? I didn’t this part from the three videos–Denver presentation–about the schools.
    – Teachers have recruiting, home visit responsibilities!
    – “embedded assessment of little value” – they should write a paper.
    – “looking for philanthropic support for better assessments” would be interesting to see their request


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