It was July of 2014, and I was enjoying the kickoff BBQ in the backyard of Matt Candler’s house for the ninth cohort of the Launch Program. Matt is the CEO of 4.0 Schools in New Orleans. I will never forget the powerful sense of community I felt in the air that afternoon as Matt spoke. “We are not worried about what it is you are building now,” Matt shared, “we are concerned about the 20-year version of who you are to become.” I was surrounded by an incredible group of people from all across the country, united by a shared passion to positively impact education.
Jonathan Johnson was part of this group. Actually, my first interaction with Jonathan was a Skype call in preparation for the Launch Program, and during this call he shared his vision to create Rooted School. While on Skype, Jonathan shared a prototype of Rooted School through a storyboarding exercise we were asked to complete. Here I was listening to an idea I knew would spark major change in education in the United States, and I was inspired. The entire 4.0 Schools experience was incredibly effective, leading to our participation in the Idea Village program in the fall of 2014, and Welcome To College’s eventual move to New Orleans.
Rooted School is a charter high school opening this fall in New Orleans. It will prepare students to compete for the most in-demand and high-paying local industries, with or without a college degree. I am forever grateful to have been part of Jonathan’s journey, watching him turn his vision into a reality over the past three years. Creating a new model for a school is no small task. However, Jonathan has persisted with passion and patience, and I have no doubt he and his team are going to make significant differences in students’ lives. This is one of many creations happening all over New Orleans that will make a major dent in the 20-year version of our community and the world.