From Founding Parent to Grand Slam Teacher: My Journey with Rocketship Southside Community Prep
Karla Gutierrez, Lead ILS at Rocketship Southside Community Prep
While most at Rocketship Southside Community Prep know me as a Lead Instructional Learning Specialist supporting Rockteers in Learning Lab, my journey with Rocketship began as a founding parent when Rocketship first came to Milwaukee in 2013. Since then, all of my four children have attended Rocketship Southside Community Prep.
Initially, I got involved with Rocketship because of my passion for the Southside community and my love for teaching. The lack of good education options with instructors who cared beyond giving the lesson to students is something that motivated me to make a difference. The Southside community here in Milwaukee is predominantly Hispanic, so I saw myself in many of the students.
I started off as a family recruiter, spreading the word about Rocketship within the community. Eventually, Brittney Kinser, the founding principal of RSCP, approached me and asked if I would like to become a tutor and work with students in small groups to give interventions to help push them to close the achievement gap. I jumped at the opportunity & never looked back.
As an Instructional Learning Specialist (ILS), I still do interventions for students in small groups. My job is fulfilling because of the students I work with. With Rocketship being an all-inclusive school, I have been able to cross paths with students from all walks of life. The ability to have an environment for all students to be successful even with circumstances out of their control is something that fulfills me daily. I love being able to provide different curriculums that are individualized for each student. I love seeing former students stop by with happiness in their eyes telling me hi and catching me up on what is going on in their lives now. This reminds me of the bonds I’ve created with them.
I continue working here year after year because of my kids’ outcomes from their time at Rocketship.
Each of my own kids has had their own needs, from speech therapy to IEPs, and they have benefited from the services Rocketship provides. For my oldest, when she was in 2nd grade, she was sent to 5th-grade reading and math to be able to learn at her intellectual level.
My younger daughter received special education services, which enabled her to grow exponentially. This impact has made me want to make sure ALL students get an individualized learning program.
Coming from a country with no room for opportunities to grow, Rocketship has opened the professional development door for me. This has built my confidence and grown my leadership skills to coach and teach other educators. All the professional development from the past 10 years has truly made me grow in a positive way. I now get to apply different styles of learning and leadership in my day-to-day at Rocketship. Looking back at my time as a recruiter, educator, and parent, I feel eternally grateful for where I am now. My own values as a mother align with Rocketship’s core values in that we share the same passion for quality education, safety, and love for kids. Rocketship cares for each student as if they were their own. They want each kid positively impacted and that is what I also hope for my students.
Recently, I was selected as the Milwaukee Brewers’ Grand Slam Teacher of the Month. It was such an honor, and I’m overwhelmed with emotions. Receiving love from all coworkers, students, parents, and prior people that I have encountered has made me feel appreciated. This means everything to me. I feel seen and more motivated to continue doing great work.
Published on November 6, 2023