Choosing Rowe: My Family’s Story

By Roselia Velasco

As noted by other school staff, Roselia Velasco is the first person anyone sees when they walk into Rowe Elementary School. She greets everyone she sees with their name, a hug, and a smile. Her warm and inviting nature makes her the cornerstone of Rowe culture. Not only is she a fierce advocate for her children, but she fights for charter school students and parents across the state. Here is her story.

My name is Roselia Velasco. I have two children that are scholars at Rowe Elementary School– one in sixth grade and one in seventh. I have also served as the school’s secretary for the past six years.

Choosing Rowe Elementary as the school for my children is one of the best decisions I have ever made. But my charter public school story begins before Rowe Elementary. It begins with my oldest daughter. She attended a traditional public school in the suburbs of Chicago and had a great experience. When she was in seventh grade, we moved to Chicago. Our neighborhood school was decent, but when we began the high school search, we found that a normal high school in our old school district was the equivalent to the selective enrollment high schools in CPS, which only a few children get into each year! This made us nervous, because we also knew that a high quality high school education would be necessary for my daughter to get into her choice of college. We felt stuck.

Thankfully, another parent told me about the charter public school movement. She made Chicago charter schools sound great, so we looked into it. We checked out a variety of traditional public and charter schools. We ended up placing Muchin College Prep, a Noble charter school, at the top of her high school list. We found that at Muchin, they really took the time to understand each individual student and the goals that families had for their children. We felt so grateful when she got into Muchin. They put her on a path to college. I knew that I wanted this type of environment at the school for my younger two children.

Another parent introduced me to Rowe Elementary. When we made our first school visit, Rowe Elementary didn’t even have a permanent building, but their warm culture that honored us as parents more than made up for it. Rowe checked all of our boxes. On our first visit, we spoke with the principal and the Chief Operating Officer. They respected us and answered all of our questions. They had strong, high school- and college-focused academic programs supported by great teachers. They had family resources. They were involved in the community. We chose Rowe for our children and we are so grateful they currently attend.

From day one, Rowe Elementary has surpassed even our initial expectations – it’s truly worth our long commute! They understand where my children currently are and where we, as a family, want our children to go – their choice university to eventually serve their community. Because of this, they prepare all scholars and families for the high school process. It’s a regular part of the conversation. By the time high school choice comes around, scholars have the skills and parents are armed with the knowledge to make the high school choices.

A family’s zip code should never determine the educational outcomes for their children. Unfortunately, throughout America, this is often the case. As a parent, I work as hard as I can to make the best choices, because ultimately, they are for my children. I like that I have a choice. Yes, I have a neighborhood school, but as a parent, I deserve to choose the best school to suit my child’s needs.