My Rocketship Journey in Growing My Impact
Ana McCoy, Assistant Principal at Rocketship Infinity Prep
My journey to education was an accident. Growing up as an undocumented immigrant in a small town in New Mexico, I had big dreams of becoming an immigration attorney and working hard to change the trajectory for families like mine who were in search of a better life with meaningful and transformational opportunities. My mother and I immigrated from Mexico when I was just ten days old. We faced many challenges throughout the years mainly around access to resources, financial stability, and language barriers which impacted her ability to be involved in my education in the early years.
After a few years of hard work, and some amazing teachers who supported us along the way, my mother and I both learned English and we began to immerse ourselves in American culture. She started to become more involved in my education and over time grew the confidence she needed to advocate for me when I couldn’t advocate for myself. She got to know my teachers, engaged in community events, and modeled what it meant to have ganas even in the face of uncertainty. We were both aware that college for me would be difficult without citizenship, however our naturalization paperwork was fortuitously approved a few months before my high school graduation and I was able to attend the University of New Mexico.
In my senior year of college, I decided to pivot from law to education and have never looked back. Remembering the teachers who helped my mom and I learn English and then helped me to reach college, I knew working in education would allow me to have the biggest impact on my community – other Latino children who are just like me. I began teaching in Denver where I was often mistaken for a secretary or translator, a byproduct of the lack of Latina educators in the classroom. In this role I was able to see myself in my students and be the teacher I needed as a child. Before my first year of teaching ended, I knew that education was not just a job for me, but a lifelong career.
After a few years of teaching in Austin, I joined Rocketship because of our commitment to treating parents as partners in their child’s education. I knew I succeeded in school because of my mom’s advocacy, and I wanted to be a part of a school that understood the importance of this. I knew I had found the place where I wanted to be and grow as a leader. I joined Rocketship Rise Academy in 2017 as a third grade humanities teacher. I received tailored coaching to build my skills in data collection and analysis, classroom management, social-emotional learning, and family engagement. My first year had a lot of failures, lessons learned and celebrations. Soon after joining the team, I began to think about my long-term impact and contribution and that self exploration led me to school leadership. After taking a year to attend Harvard’s Graduate School of Education to obtain my masters in school leadership, I returned to DC and helped found Rocketship Infinity Community Prep – in 2020 – on Zoom!
Being an assistant principal at RIC has further solidified my commitment to Rocketship. This role has allowed me to have a greater impact on the Latino community in DC and be both a mirror and a window for my community. Angel McNeil, our principal, has been challenging me to lean into unfamiliar and sometimes uncomfortable situations in service of improving my skills. I have sharpened my lens on coaching on instructional outcomes while learning best practices in coaching teachers and realizing high student outcomes (RIC was #1 in the network for math growth on NWEA last year and #3 for reading on NWEA!). Through collaboration with families on events, initiatives, and student outcomes, I have been able to fulfill my dream of leading in a community school where families, staff, and students feel safe, supported, and connected.
As an Aspiring Principal, I am working to leverage the lessons and skills I have learned to continue to increase my impact and reach more students and families. As an aspiring principal, my main goals are to continue to develop the leadership in others so that together we can create meaningful, transformative, and long lasting moments for our families, and to create the type of school my mother and I needed when I was a child. To me, a school is performing well when language is not a barrier to engagement, where teachers genuinely love their jobs, where kids cannot wait to return the next day, and where families have a sense of ownership. This is the type of school culture that I hope to create as an Aspiring Principal, and I am confident that with the continued support of the Rocketship network that I will see this vision come to fruition during my time at Rocketship. I encourage other educators to pursue becoming an assistant principal like I did. It’s a great opportunity to make an even greater impact on the families you already serve.
Published on November 30, 2022