Rooted School Founder and Chief Executive Officer Jonathan Johnson has such a profound passion for helping students prepare for college. He delivers an educational experience for young learners that close the gap between what schools teach and the skills needed for future jobs.
“The design — and now piloting — of Rooted School began out of me noticing a glaring problem in our city’s schools today: the gross disconnect between what we’re teaching and where tomorrow’s jobs are being created.
What we haven’t seen is a significant change in student life outcomes. Visions of college help some, but kids know that college isn’t a guarantee. And for a growing number of kids, it’s another heavy financial burden on top of others they already know and carry. Streets are beating schools in the fight for the attention of so many of our young men. Our schools are missing a connection to something bigger, to a future that the kids could actually connect to from where they are today.”
Johnson tells the story of an eighth-grade student of his, Ricky Summers, who was murdered. After witnessing and hearing about the murder, Johnson became inspired to launch a school of his own where students can grow professionally, mentally, and emotionally. “Education enables our country to fulfill its promise to citizens that need it the most,” said Johnson.
I understand this problem firsthand. … I got angry about the tragic killings of kids I’ve worked so hard to teach, kids who were working hard, but couldn’t escape the streets. I started looking for ways to do something about this a year ago: Rooted School will come to life this fall as a small-scale pilot for 15 students, designed as a school that can beat the streets in the fight for relevance with kids. It has the potential to shape what is possible in public schools nationally. Rooted gives kids something to connect to in their own city, something with the capacity to convince them there’s a better choice than what’s out there now, a choice that’s only recently been added to the answer sheet: a career in software and tech.
Rooted School is an independent state-owned charter organization. “The school is working to expand their network in New Orleans and beyond to help prepare students for their most rigorous career options that will lead to financial freedom,” said Johnson. As a college preparatory institution, Johnson reaches out to companies that are local to design curriculum and provide entry level job opportunities for students when they graduate from high school.
I’m going to connect schooling to these amazing opportunities in tech and five other industry clusters, leveraging employers themselves in the training of our students for the jobs they will have available in the years to come.
If we do this successfully, we will remove the potential of poverty for our students by placing them on an entry-level path toward a financial independence.”