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Inside the Creation of Delta Prep’s Student-Run Newspaper Program

Welcome back to another staff feature, where we interview a Rocketship educator who has gone above and beyond to bring a new idea to life in the classroom in hopes it helps other educators do the same! Today we’re chatting with Daniela Rosales, a science teacher at Rocketship Delta Prep and founder of the school’s student-run newspaper, The Delta Times. This program has been an absolute hit among students. Last year when Daniela was in her first year as a special education interventionist, she saw an opportunity outside of her usual day-to-day role and piloted the program. It gained so much popularity that she received over 60 student applications for the next term in the first three hours!

Since then, Daniela enrolled with Rocketship’s credentialling partner, Rivet School, to become a certified teacher and also joined the Latinx Teachers Fellowship from Latinos for Education. This school year she’s excited to be teaching science, as well as running an expanded program of the Delta Times.

In this 10-minute interview, we learn what inspired Daniella to start the program, what growth she saw in students, how she implemented it, learnings she took away, and first-hand thoughts from two student reporters. Let’s dive in!

Kimberly, Rocketship: Hello! Thank you for joining us today. We’re so excited to have you all and hear about the Delta Times program.

Daniela Rosales, Rocketship Delta Prep: My name is Daniela Rosales and I’m an interventionist at Rocketship Delta Prep. I thought about how when I was in middle school, I got to do the newspaper club at my school. So I was like, “Why not have that here?” So we started off with the newspaper and then slowly we’ve been adding more things like doing DP TV, which is our video report that we usually play during morning launch.

Kimberly, Rocketship: Oh, fun.

Daniela Rosales, Rocketship Delta Prep: And we also post that on our Facebook. And they’ve been interviewing really cool people like Michael Finney from ABC7 News. They interviewed an actor from the Disney Channel.

Kimberly, Rocketship: Oh, wow.

Daniela Rosales, Rocketship Delta Prep: They interviewed Preston Smith from Rocketship. So they’ve been really doing so much and putting so much work into this program. So we print it out and distribute it about maybe once a month, but I want to release more issues more often next year.

Kimberly, Rocketship: So it sounds like it’s a lot about pop culture and what the kids are interested right now.

Daniela Rosales, Rocketship Delta Prep: Yeah.

Kimberly, Rocketship: Do you guys ever talk about anything that’s happening at Delta Prep?

Daniela Rosales, Rocketship Delta Prep: Yeah, they talk about school events. I had a reporter talk about the fifth-grade camping trip, and she gave them a lot more information.

Kimberly, Rocketship: Cool.

Daniela Rosales, Rocketship Delta Prep: I had someone talk about other events that we have going on at the school.

Kimberly, Rocketship: Mm-hmm. Yeah. So it’s also a way for parents… I’m guessing parents read this as well. So it’s nice where they can see a lens into the school a little bit more intimately.

Daniela Rosales, Rocketship Delta Prep: Yeah.

Kimberly, Rocketship: In terms of the big picture impact of the program that you’ve seen, I’m sure since this is the first time that you’ve had this program, and it sounds like it was a big success from having 25 students enrolled to now you have 70 applicants for next year, just in a couple of hours. What kind of impact have you seen that it’s had on the students in terms of their confidence in writing or their creative ideas or anything like that?

Daniela Rosales, Rocketship Delta Prep: I’ve noticed they’re a lot more confident, especially when it comes to public speaking, and a lot more social, which might sound like a bad thing, but a lot of these kids were super shy and they didn’t really want to talk a lot in class, and now they feel really confident going in front of their classes and speaking. And I also make students sign behavior contracts before they even start to let them know if you have any problems in class, that’s a strike. You hit three strikes, you’re out of the club. So students who had behavioral issues, are behaving a lot better in class because they know that I’m really serious that I will kick them out of the club if they don’t behave.

Kimberly, Rocketship: Yeah, that’s a great idea. So it sounds like it’s an incentivizer for people because there’s a lot of interest in this club, so it helps people do well in other aspects of school. And I love hearing about the confidence. I mean, there’s something about expression… I’m a writer and a poet as well, just separately in my life. And there’s something about just writing and being able to share your thoughts. One, if it’s verbally, but also on the page, that just helps you build more confidence in sharing your opinions about your story or whatnot. So, I think it’s great that you’re helping instill that so young that this is something that they can-

Daniela Rosales, Rocketship Delta Prep: Yeah.

Kimberly, Rocketship: … they’ve been exposed to writing.

Daniela Rosales, Rocketship Delta Prep: I think they feel really proud seeing their writing published and seeing kids reading their writing and talking about their writing. Because a lot of other kids would be like… I’ll pass out the newspapers with the kids, and then the kids in that class will be like, “Alex,” or whoever, “You wrote an article or you are in it.”

Kimberly, Rocketship: Yeah, it shines. It’s spotlights.

Daniela Rosales, Rocketship Delta Prep: Exactly.

Kimberly, Rocketship: Amazing. So I would love to hear what’s one story that you wrote for the Delta Times that you’re proud of?

Rocketeer: So I wrote the fifth grade field trip, and I’m proud of it because I got to help a lot of people know more stuff and get over their worries of going there.

Kimberly, Rocketship: That’s a good idea. Great. I’d love that story. And what was your favorite part of being a part of the Delta Times?

Rocketeer: My favorite part was that I got to interact with different people that I didn’t know, and meet new teachers. And I got to see everybody happy reading articles and they were interested in learning.

Kimberly, Rocketship: And let’s see. So you were also interviewed on ABC7 with Michael Finney. How did it feel seeing your face on the news and television?

Rocketeer: It felt good because, I don’t know, I became a little popular.

Kimberly, Rocketship: Yeah, I bet. Yeah. It’s like the real level of reporting. Now you’re on the news, you quickly elevated. That’s fun. And how did you feel about writing reporting at the beginning of the year, and how do you feel about it now? Do you see any kind of changes in yourself?

Rocketeer: I felt a little nervous. I was more shy and I didn’t like speaking in public that much. But when I joined the newspaper, I got to meet new people. I got to talk more. I got to express myself more when I was doing things and writing.

Kimberly, Rocketship: That’s awesome. And in terms… So you’re off to junior high now, and I’m sure there’ll be all kinds of programs and things for you to get involved in. Do you see yourself more interested in writing now or journalism or anything after that?

Rocketeer: Yeah, I kind of do. I want to be writing poems, writing books.

Kimberly, Rocketship: Yes. I love that. I’m also a poet and a writer, so I keep going for that. It’s a great way of expression. And I started when I was like 12, I think, I started writing poetry. So the world is a beautiful literary place. That’s so fun. So is there anything you’d like to say to Ms. Rosales who helped create this program as a…

Rocketeer: I just want to say thank you for letting me meet her and express myself more and for letting me even be in the club.

Kimberly, Rocketship: Did you see any changes in yourself from the beginning of the year to the end of the year when you came into the Delta Times? How were you feeling? And then when you finished, how were you feeling?

Rocketeer: At the beginning, I was trying to finish step levels and I kept on reading, but I couldn’t quite get to the last one. But when I started doing articles, it really helped me by finding stuff and doing more research and course at schools.

Kimberly, Rocketship: Wow. Great. So it sounds like it helped you improve your writing and your reading abilities being in the Delta Times. Is that right? Oh, great.

Rocketeer: Yeah.

Kimberly, Rocketship: And do you think you’ll join next year?

Rocketeer: Yeah.

Kimberly, Rocketship: Yeah. That’s exciting. And is there anything you’d like to say to Ms. Rosales, who I believe is your sister, who started the program?

Rocketeer: I feel like if she didn’t do the program, a lot of people wouldn’t have met each other and started their friendships and they wouldn’t have grown academically. And because of her, a lot of people are friends and they have fun academically and behaviorally too, and everyone’s together now.

Kimberly, Rocketship: I love that. Thank you so much for sharing that. And I’m sure it was so great for her to hear that as well. But what I loved about this story and this idea was, it was a really good example of how you as an educator can bring an idea and pretty much change the school community in a really positive way. Like they were saying, we’re able to meet students across different grades and build confidence and help them academically grow in ways that maybe they otherwise wouldn’t have grown because they had this new enrichment opportunity. So, thanks for making this happen.

Daniela Rosales, Rocketship Delta Prep: Of course. It’s been such an honor. It’s been so amazing.

Kimberly, Rocketship: Yeah. Well, I’m so glad we got to chat with y’all. We’re going to put this on the teacher PD Launchpad blog. If you had any advice for other teachers who are looking to start something like this or they have an idea, but they’re kind of worried of how to implement it, what advice would you give them after this experience?

Daniela Rosales, Rocketship Delta Prep: I would say to just go for it even if you’re nervous or you think the kids won’t be interested in it, just go for it. The worst thing that can happen is that someone says no or someone doesn’t like it. And even if one person doesn’t like it, there’s going to be a lot of people who do.


Published on August 1, 2023

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