EdSurge recently published Tony Wan’s article “Rocketship Education’s Preston Smith Becomes CEO; John Danner to Launch Edtech Company”. The article reveals that the co-founder of the California charter school system, Rocketship Education, is leaving his post as CEO. John Danner has become a serial entrepreneur and is focusing on his new online company. The current president of the company, Preston Smith, will take on the role of CEO.
John Danner won’t reveal the details of his next venture, only indicating that he hopes to solve a student-centered learning issue that they have faced at Rocketship Education. He wants to ensure that the solution is available for everyone and will use the Rocketship schools as a place to test his material. The unique staffing model and Learning Labs of the charter school have allowed the students to improve their scores on the Californian standardized tests.
Prior to starting Rocketship, Danner focused on helping other charter schools while also creating NetGravity, an internet advertising company. His entrepreneurial outlook has allowed the charter school to embrace technology to improve learning. Many members of the staff have also gone on to begin their own educational startups. One example is Justin Su, who ran one of the first technology labs at Rocketship Education and has since moved on to begin his own Edtech startup called Goalbook.
Preston Smith, however, has a background in education. He worked in an elementary school in East San Jose as a Teach for America corps member. He was also a principal of an elementary school in the same area.
Rocketship Education has a different approach to learning. They focus on four different types of content each day, including STEM, Humanities, Enrichment, and a Learning Lab. This helps students learn the subjects because each teacher is a specialist in the area. It also allows teachers to collaborate to create improved lesson plans and classroom management strategies while engaging parents in the learning process as well.
Teachers at Rocketship Education charter schools provide differentiated instruction to the students to ensure that their needs are met regardless of their learning level. The students have gained higher test scores because of this model.