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James Robinson, Executive Director, Tennessee

James Robinson is the Tennessee Executive Director. James has been with Rocketship for 8 years, holding a variety of roles including most recently as Director of Schools for Tennessee where he led the region through the COVID-19 crisis. James also oversaw both of our schools as they earned Reward Status, the highest honor given to schools in the State of Tennessee for academic excellence. James also led the successful campaign to get approval for our third school from the Tennessee State Board of Education, and has been managing the preparation to open Nashville 3 in August 2022.

James discovered his innate talent for teaching right after college while using his English degree to teach ESL to adults in South Korea. When he returned to the states, James began tutoring students who had gone through juvenile court and were on house arrest or expelled from school — and that’s when his raw talent connected with his personal passion for social justice. James knew he wanted to become an educator to specifically work with students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

James first entered public education through a teacher residency program in Rochester, New York. After working in a traditional public school setting as a special education teacher for 6 years, James learned that his oldest daughter, then in 3rd grade, had fallen behind her peers. His search for a better public education option for his daughter led them both to Uncommon Schools, where James was inspired to grow into school leadership. His first role with Rocketship was as an Assistant Principal at Rocketship Mosaic. In 2015, James founded Rocketship United Academy in Nashville.

James is originally from the Rochester, NY area. He has a wife and two daughters. His oldest is attending college and his youngest is an avid violinist and scholar.