Story of the Rocket City Learning Center – A Journey to be a Butterfly.
Stage 1 – Egg – Madison ALOHA
Once upon a time, it does feel like that long ago, the journey with Rocket City Learning Center (RLC) has unfolded like a fairy tale. Noting that there were certain areas of need in our education system, Dr. Kommidi decided to be part of the solution by working hand in hand with local schools. Dr. Praveena Kommidi is an educator, speaker, entrepreneur, mentor, and catalyst. She has over 18 years of the educational experience. Under her leadership, Rocket City Learning Center operates with the dream of sending every student to college with a full ride. The learning center offers classes in Math, Reading, Writing, Speech, Physics, and test prep. The goal is to provide parents with resources to support struggling youngsters to pull themselves up to their grade level. In addition to tutoring, we also offered enrichment classes to challenge students to reach their potential in ways that might not be available to them at school.
It all started in the summer of 2012 with a one of a kind Math Camp because Dr.Kommidi did not like the experience her kids were having with doing meaningless sheets for memorization. It was a great success. The group went home full of smiles, twinkly eyes, and brighter brains. These encouraged Dr. Kommidi to keep that environment alive. So, she began the search for a franchise, and ALOHA fell into her path. This ALOHA had nothing to do with Hawaii: it stands for “Abacus Learning of Higher Arithmetic.” They have a decent Reading/Writing Program, but their Math program is focused entirely on using the ancient abacus method. Though the technique had excellent benefits related to helping brain development and cognitive skills, the instant gratification part which everyone looks for was missing. To compensate, Dr. Kommidi added Common Core Math into the program. They customize the program as per parents’ wants and needs but adding to the challenges as part of the franchise program, limiting flexibility.
Stage 2 – Caterpillar – MadisonSATACT
Looking at high school kids struggling with test prep., we slowly added ACT preparation to the program, and it was a great hit. Gradually, test prep became the better part of the program. During this journey, Dr. Kommidi strived to maintain a unique program, unlike the many in the market. These helped to create a student-centered program where happy faces learn. Students do not merely listen to the teacher exclusively but interact as they learn in an atmosphere of accessible communication and collaboration. While using the national curriculum as a guide, the teachers encourage students to enjoy the learning process rather than resist it.
RLC started with just one person, but Dr. Kommidi has always believed in the African proverb, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” She never stopped looking for people with a similar wavelength. The dream to expand started with the second person on board, Mrs.Dawn Price. Mrs. Price’s teaching experience covers K12 to college undergraduate and post-graduate students in Language Arts, Business English, ESL, GED, and Speech. She is also a mentor and instructor in Social Skills for individuals on the autism spectrum. Dawn has been with RLC working with the entire student body since 2014.
RLC now has a proprietary curriculum for Math, Reading, Writing, ACT, SAT, and PreACT / PSAT Programs. We introduced PSAT and Pre-ACT preparation for middle school and early high school students. Then, we added MadisonSATACT as an extension of MadisonALOHA to support our Test prep classes.
Five years passed; we decided to say goodbye to the ALOHA franchise agreement. It was time to rebrand and relaunch Dr. Kommidi’s dream project of sending students to college with a full ride. Being in the Rocket City, the new name emerged- “Rocket City Learning Center.”
Stage 3 – Pupa/Chrysalis – Rocket City Learning Center
Several people joined and separated from the RLC’s journey. Dr.Kommidi believed that everyone had something to contribute to the mission of the center. We are grateful for the people who passed our path along the way: Archana Damle, Kelechi Okwu, Jean Nayiga, Ebony Harrison, Alexandria Swaine, Ian Price, Sasha Talluri, Leena Patel, Juhi Patel, Shrrevani Reddy, and Chris Chau. As the journey progresses, the team evolved: Dawn Price (English, Reading, Writing, and Speech instructor), Dylan Clark (Learning Center Manager), Roja Pallem ( Coordinator, works online from Rayleigh, NC), Part-time Instructors: Dulce Turibio, Sarah Morris, Isha Patel, Amirra Sherrif, Nick Mossis, Dr. Rajmohan Kalluru, Steven Price. We have started an internship program this year; our interns include Hendry Hue, Celeb Cummings, Dakota Alphonsa, and Destiny Lindsay.
At RLC, teachers, parents, and students work as a team. As the parents approach the teachers, they’re given recommendations for the optimal number of tutoring sessions and subject focus. The final decisions, however, rest with the parents and families. With the help of our warmhearted teachers, RLC students are on the path to becoming lifelong learners who are inspired by the joy that share with them in the learning process.
Now, RLC is a leader in test prep in the Madison/Huntsville area and expanding. We are raising the score by +5-average points consistently for seven years, saving them thousands of dollars in college tuition. Our students come from every high school in Madison County. Our Online students now include areas from Atlanta, Detriot, Florida, and California. We have served over 3000 ACT students, creating over 100 million in scholarship money. We have more than 100,000+ tutoring hours under our belts. The RLC students are attending Duke, UAB, UAH, Emory, and many other prestigious colleges. They are proud to say that the first group is in prestigious medical, business, and law schools.
2020 is RLC’s 7th year in business, and we have built relationships with local schools to reach out and help as many students as possible. We had partnerships with Bob Jones High School to offer their ACT Prep classes from 2016 through 2018. Currently, the same type of collaboration is under implementation with James Clemens. RLC participates with local schools as a partner to help them provide quality education for the local children.