Jermaine Gassaway joined Rocketship as a founding assistant principal at Rocketship Rise Academy in Washington DC. Rise Academy launched as the single largest opening in Washington DC’s twenty-year history of charter schools. And in their very first year, Rocketeers at Rise achieved Tier 1 status – the highest performance ranking for DC Public Charter Schools. Mr. Gassaway then moved to Nashville in 2017 as the principal of Rocketship Nashville Northeast Elementary School. In Mr. Gassaway’s first full year as principal, Rocketship Nashville Northeast made the greatest academic gains of any elementary school in Nashville. As a result, Rocketship Nashville Northeast Elementary was named a Reward School, the state’s highest designation for academic achievement, in 2018.
Mr. Gassaway is a strong advocate for equity in public education, with a particular focus on increasing teacher diversity in our public schools. He published Unopened Books: Multiplying the 2%, which documents “the unfathomable rate of black males in education” and details the transformative power of building a teacher workforce that more closely resembles the diversity of the students in our schools.
Before joining Rocketship, Mr. Gassaway taught grades third to eighth, was a 2010 Teach For America corps member in Detroit where over 90 percent of his students scored advanced or proficient on the state standardized assessment (MEAP), and served as Curriculum Coordinator at Detroit Edison Public School Academy where he supported a second grade team to achieve an increase in math benchmark scores from 47 percent to 76 percent. Mr. Gassaway later became a leader at KIPP Charlotte in North Carolina where he led students to over 94 percent proficiency on the state standardized assessment.
A native of Washington DC, Mr. Gassaway began advocating for quality education at a very young age. As a student he wrote to DC’s Board of Education requesting permission to transfer to a better, safer school. He ultimately decided to leave DC at the age of 16 to attend The Piney Woods School in Mississippi. That decision changed his life and trajectory. Jermaine is a graduate of Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina. He is a proud husband and father to a Rocketeer and a future Rocketeer.