Breakthrough students enroll in college-prep high school programs at more than twice the rate of their low-income and minority peers.
Name: Rasheeda Abdul-Musawwir
Breakthrough Program: Cambridge, MA
Subject Teaching: 7th Grade Literature
School Attending/Year: Wheaton College (Norton, MA) 2013
It’s an honor to be writing on behalf of the Breakthrough Collaborative Cambridge (yay!) summer 2011 experience. I must say, I am so pumped for this summer to really REALLY start. Despite it being June and being out of school I feel like this summer has yet to reach its full speed. Also, having all of this free time is a rarity for a college student, so I’m going a little crazy over here. I honestly can’t wait for things to start rollin’!
I guess my “Breakthrough Story “starts when I had the honor of meeting the lovely Jennie Brown (Breakthrough Cambridge Director) at a dinner through an internship of mine during winter break of this year. Jennie was there to present Breakthrough Collaborative to some other college students and I who had just finished up an intensive two week Urban Education Initiative internship. This internship basically consisted of us being teacher's assistants in public schools all across Boston.
From personal experience, this internship had not only gave me a more clear understanding of urban education (unlike the romanticized stories we read about in textbooks/ see in movies, or the exact opposite horror stories you sometimes hear from people). So, after having the awesome interning opportunity, experiencing some DEEP thinking I laid out my career path, and knew education was the career path I wanted to follow.
Breakthrough was and is everything I need to ensure that that path is well paved J.
Sooo.....after the longest application of my life (totally worth it though! J), a couple of interviews, a few phone calls to my mom to relieve my anxiety I finally got an e-mail welcoming me to be part of the Breakthrough Cambridge team!
There are a few weeks in between me and my first days as a teacher at Breakthrough. Do I know what to expect? Absolutely not! And, I believe that's a sort of good thing. Ok. I lied on the whole expectations part. Although I am sure I have no idea what I am getting myself into, which I am totally comfortable with, one thing I do know....is that I will be having some AWESOME students and co-workers that will make this summer definitely one to remember.
I promise to share their awesomeness this summer through various blog posts, pictures and all things great.
Peace and Love,
Name: Katie Stucko
Breakthrough Program: Houston
Subject Teaching: 9th Grade English
School Attending/Year: University of Notre Dame, 2012
I decided to spend my summer far away from home in Houston, TX working with Breakthrough because I knew I wanted to spend my summer learning as much as I could about teaching--both because I love working with students and because I am continuing to discover my path in the field of education. During orientation this week, I have simultaneously come to understand that effective educators are the greatest predictor of student success and been encouraged by the commitment, energy, and passion my fellow teachers, mentor teachers, and staff. I am very much looking forward to learning with and from them in the coming weeks and I expect that they will challenge me to improve and encourage me in my teaching. So far, we have been working on the Intern Teacher Training Initiative (ITTI) which includes instruction on such topics as lesson planning, classroom management, the Say-See-Do method and Task Analysis, all of which have been critical for synthesizing my prior teaching experience and establishing procedures for teaching more effectively this summer. We have all had many opportunities to learn and practice our techniques but that being said, all of the teachers are very excited to finally meet the students next week!
Name: Mardin Yadegar
Breakthrough Program: Silicon Valley
Subject Teaching: Algebra 1
School Attending/Year: Senior, Bellermin College Prep
A presentation made by Breakthrough Silicon Valley Director Rich Harris brought me in. He told me that I could help kids achieve their goals by teaching them essential subjects tey need to master in order to get to college. I immediately applied when I had the chance. I am looking forward to meeting people my age as well as people younger than me. I always look forward to the future and I will be able to see what kids will be attending my high school after I depart for college. I imagine I will need to rely on my fellow teachers for strength. During the Breakthrough program, I know that it can become rigorous. I will need their assistance to help me get through the rigor of the program.
Name: Heather Ma
Breakthrough Program: Cincinnati
Subject Teaching: 6th grade Science
School Attending/Year: Northwestern 2014
From the literally the time I was born, a step ladder for college and beyond has set out in front of me and I have willingly followed this course. But now during college, I find myself looking at the world differently, looking at a world where I don’t define myself based off my academic achievements.
Having gone to college for a year, and having being exposed to so many amazing crazy cool things, I’ve done some soul searching and find myself drawn towards social justice and civic engagement. There are so many things in this country and in this world that can be improved, and I feel a sense of responsibility to give others the opportunities that I have been afforded. Thus, I am driven to do Breakthrough because for at least these 2 months, I will make a difference.
Yesterday was my first day of Orientation, and now I can honestly say I am so excited about this program!! But like many of my fellow teachers, more than anything I’m excited to meet my students. I’m excited to teach them not only the difference between a sedimentary and metamorphic rock but to help them grow as a person and become more of themselves. However, as much as I am the teacher, I’m looking forward to being a student and learning from my own students.
Finally, I’m also excited to get to know my fellow teachers better and to learn from their experiences and what they bring to the table. Already I know that I will be able to lean on these dedicated individuals if I ever get tired, or have a troublesome student, or just need someone to talk too. It’s going to be an awesome summer!
Name: Erin Galvin
Breakthrough Program: Breakthrough Fort Worth
Subject Teaching: 8th grade Algebra 1 and Geometry
School Attending/Year: Marquette University, Class of 2013
After four days of teacher training, two of the most important instructional strategies that I have learned are using task analysis in lesson planning and the importance of providing students with an academically rigorous curriculum. I feel that I am a better teacher after this week of training because I have learned how to use task analysis to tailor your lesson plan to your students. I am looking forward to learning more instructional strategies during Week 2 of training!
My passion for teaching, and interest in exploring a career in urban education, and a commitment to social justice brought me to Breakthrough Fort Worth this summer. Breakthrough provides an opportunity for me to combine these interests into an incredible summer teaching experience! As an elementary education and mathematics major, I am excited to have an opportunity this summer to use my background in education in mathematics to teach fantastic group of 8th graders and prepare them for college-preparatory high school programs.
I am most looking forward to working with middle school students and learning new teaching strategies from Breakthrough administrators, my mentor teacher, and colleagues! Also, I am excited to have six weeks of hands-on teaching experience! I imagine I rely on my fellow teachers for support throughout the summer to share instructional strategies with each other.
Name: Tina Cheema
Breakthrough Program: Breakthrough New Orleans
Subject Teaching: 6th Grade Writing
School Attending/Year: Tulane University, Class of 2013
This summer, I am most looking forward to meeting my students! We have learned a lot during Orientation week and I am ready to start putting some of those ideas into action! In addition to helping my students grow, I am excited to see how my students will affect the way I look at and approach education. I imagine that I will rely on my fellow teachers quite a bit this summer for academic feedback, as well as mental support. Our site has already started a mass text message chain, so we are pretty much always in contact.
One of the instructional strategies that really drew my attention during training was active participation. After reflecting back on my own educational experiences, I realized that very few of my teachers actually used active participation. There are so many little things that a teacher can do to ensure that all students are engaged and interested in the lesson. Another strategy that I plan to implement is proactive management. By establishing clear routines, a classroom can run more smoothly and students will be able to learn more. The overall most important thing that I learned during Orientation week is that Breakthrough is not only about helping students learn in their academic subjects. Breakthrough is about teaching students how to learn, and I feel that knowing this has already made me a better teacher.
Name: Alexa Schmidt
Breakthrough Program: Breakthrough Cincinnati
Subject Teaching: Sixth Grade English
School Attending/Year: Clark Montessori 2012 (High School)
Once upon a time, not so terribly long ago, I was a Breakthrough student. I started Breakthrough a year late, my seventh grade summer, in 2006 and since then I’ve been hooked. I honestly loved learning, especially during the summer at Breakthrough. Now I am so grateful to be able to teach with Breakthrough and give back to a wonderful program that gave me so much self-confidence and opened up so many opportunities for me. I can’t wait till the summer really begins and the students come into my classroom. I am ready to help empower young students like I was empowered only a few years ago. The students this year will be the next wave of young people and they deserve the very best so that they can go on to be successful in rigorous middles schools, high schools, and beyond. I have already started working with my fellow teachers, we all bonded very quickly even though today (June 9) was our first day of training and most of us have never met one another before. We were brainstorming lesson ideas for practice 6-week-plans, and discussing ways to keep the curriculum interesting and connected to the students. I got to talk with my academic elective co-teacher and we are both pumped to share the magic of creative writing with the students in our class, through character sketches, patchwork stories, and descriptive language. I feel like this summer all of the Breakthrough Cincinnati teachers will become wonderfully interdependent as we form a strong community and encourage each other to keep up the hard work and stay enthusiastic. I know there might be days where the students test me, or I’m supper tired but I know I’ll be able to depend on my fellow teachers for a friendly smile and gentle push forward. However, right now, all I know is that I am just very excited for the summer and it is certainly going to be “breakalicious!”
Name: Nathaniel Wardwell
Breakthrough Program: Breakthrough Austin
Subject Teaching: 8th Grade Physics
School Attending/Year: Brown University 2014
I first heard about Breakthrough from one of my good friends at school who had worked at the Austin site four years ago. I have been considering going into education for several years, and still haven't set a career-path for myself, but I was so excited about the program from the minute I heard about it. If Breakthrough's mission wasn't enough to win me over, hearing the amazing (and sometimes challenging) experiences of my friend convinced me that this was the right choice for my summer. I had worked for years as a camp counselor and had tutored, but never had taken any time as a full teacher-- I can't wait to get started with my own class!
I've been in training for a week now, and have already had such an amazing time. Our workload is intense-- I've had several 12-hour work days in addition to take-home work on my curriculum, but I couldn't be happier. All of the teachers and our leadership staff are so passionate about what we're doing, and take every extra mile to support each other.
And strategies for Orientation week? Value your time. Every moment is precious. That doesn't necessarily mean always be working, but if you're not working, then get to know the people around you-- I haven't regretted it yet, and can say that this busy week has been so rewarding. As far as classroom instruction, I've learned countless tricks for managing a classroom, strategies for building lesson plans, and ways to get my students excited about their subjects. I now feel more confident in my ability to actually create and lead an academic course, and believe that I've really grown!
Name: Rachel Renbarger
Breakthrough program: Breakthrough Fort Worth
Subject Teaching: 8th Grade Literature
School Attending/Year: University of Oklahoma, Junior (Fall 2011)
If you’ve already started orientation, what are the two most important instructional strategies you learned from your Orientation week? How are you now a better teacher than before you arrived?
While I am an English education major, I feel I have already learned so much from training, especially as it relates to classroom management. Students are here to work, so why not start with that? The "Do now" (assignment for the students to begin when they enter the classroom) eliminates extraneous filler for the students when the bell rings, such as talking about Lady Gaga's latest stunt or flirting with each other. Class is for learning. Simple management strategies can save valuable minutes of class time that can be used for practice or interactive participation instead. The second strategy relates to the lesson planning process, specifically evaluation. Our master teachers (professional educators guiding our lesson plans and subject departments) tell us to continually add, delete, and edit with each lesson. Not all students will get it. Some need leadership roles to prevent boredom. A lesson plan is never perfect and how our students do is directly correlated to our efforts.
Name: Chris Minor
Breakthrough Program: Breakthrough Sacramento
Subject Teaching: Literature
School Attending: UC Davis School of Education; Credential/M.A. Program
I returned to Breakthrough Sacramento after my experience as an English teacher in 2010. The energy and challenges I encountered helped me to develop as a future teacher and an individual. As a teacher, I developed a greater understanding of the life of a teacher and a greater focus for my future career. The days that began at 5:30am and ended at some time between 1am and 2:30am helped me to realize that a teacher must be willing to sacrifice sleep for the well-being of his or her students. In my case the rewards for those sacrifices made every waking hour worth ten times the amount of sleep I lost. Breakthrough Sacramento also helped me to realize the importance of non-profit groups in public education. The premier of the movie Waiting for Superman, along with the other things, refocused national attention on the deficiencies in public schools that prompt parents and students to look elsewhere for quality education. As summer 2011 commences I look forward to contributing to a national effort to improve the quality of education for students from under-resourced schools. Also, as I prepare to enter the credential year of my program at UC Davis, I eagerly await the experiences that will inform my teaching for the rest of my career.
Despite being a returning teacher, I will still need to lean on my fellow teachers for support, especially from the Literature Department. As this year’s department head, my prior experience will allow me to prepare for some aspects of the Breakthrough summer. However, in order to facilitate a fun and collaborative environment for the students, I will rely on my fellow teachers for ideas, initiative, and positive attitudes to make the transition from last year’s program to this year’s program a smooth one. Orientation week has yet to begin but I know that week will forge Breakthrough Sacramento 2011 into a cohesive faculty and community of educators.