Reflections

Carolina Martín
“ Breakthrough was an incredibly powerful experience. I learned a great deal about inequities in education. Beyond that, it was amazing to see middle school students committed to their futures and high school and college students inspired to make change. Breakthrough creates an energy that follows you throughout your life. It empowers you. You feel that you can be successful, that there are no obstacles that you can’t work through.”

Carolina is the Vice President of Donorschoose.org (West Region).


Breakthrough experience: Teacher in Manchester in 1994 and director in San Francisco from 1999 to 2003

Carolina Martín
Veronica Alvarez
“ I have chosen to work in places with objectives similar to Breakthrough’s. My own aspirations were shaped by my experiences at Breakthrough, where students’ talents, equality and commitment are truly valued. I attribute my first summer at Breakthrough to my going into urban education. The kids were smart and funny, and their parents were amazing. High Tech High is project-based learning. Just like Breakthrough, it is a total team effort, and everyone is committed to the same end.”

Veronica is Director of Operations at High Tech High School in San Diego, Ca.

Breakthrough experience: Teacher in San Francisco in 1998 and program coordinator in San Francisco from 2001 to 2003.

Veronica Alvarez
Eric Anderson
“ Breakthrough convinced me that we need to get kids exposed to really smart teachers. For this nation to compete, we need to build from the bottom up and develop systems where mediocrity is not the default system. I would not have ended up where I am without the experience of
Breakthrough. It’s a template by which great work can get done: a think-out-of-thebox program, followed up with commitment and leadership.”

Eric is an Education Research Analyst in Long Beach, Ca.

Breakthrough experience: Student in San Francisco in 1978 and 1979 and teacher in San Francisco from 1980 to 1983

Eric Anderson
Chris Balme
“ Did Breakthrough help you get to where you are now? Absolutely! After teaching at Breakthrough, I began to seriously re-think my career plans. At the time I was in business school as an undergrad and was planning on heading off to some sort of business or consulting job. All that changed -- I started to feel that education was a lot more meaningful for me, and that it drew on my strengths more directly than the business world.”

Chris is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of Spark, a youth empowerment and apprenticeship program in San Francisco.

Breakthrough Experience: Teacher at San Francisco site in 2002

Chris Balme
Lois Loofbourrow
“ You have to believe in the kids wholeheartedly and in a passionate way. If you don’t, they won’t achieve. During the early years of the program, we followed our kids tenaciously. If we saw a weakness in our program, we isolated and addressed it.  I am as cranky today about mediocrity as I was 30 years ago, and I am as passionate today as I was 30 years ago. The kids say to me, ‘It’s all because of you, Lois. I say, ‘No, it’s all because of you.’”

Lois co-founded Summerbridge San Francisco at University High School in 1978. A national expansion to what is now Breakthrough Collaborative has allowed for replication of this program model in more than 30 locations in as many years. Lois' vision to help middle-school students enter rigorous college-preparatory high schools continues to be a core focus of Breakthrough programs across the country.

Lois Loofbourrow
Jabali Sawicki
“ The greatest influence Breakthrough has had on me is helping me to understand the power and potential of both education and individuals to change lives. As a young African-American male, I could have gone either way. There were a lot of temptations, distractions, forces that might have pulled me in a wrong direction.The program addressed me on all these levels and bridged the gap between what I thought I wanted and needed in life and what I truly needed in life.”

Jabali is Founding principal of Excellence Charter School in Brooklyn, N.Y., one of New York's highest-performing public elementary schools.

Breakthrough experience: Student at Breakthrough in San Francisco from 1988 to 1991; teacher in New Orleans in 1995 and 1996 and in Louisville (Ky.) in 1999 and 2000

Jabali Sawicki
Quinn Rallins
“ By not being afraid to develop creative ways of engaging with children, Breakthrough brings fresh insights and perspectives to the world. By not giving in to the plague of defeatism that often runs rampant through the corridors of schools in low-income communities, Breakthrough is setting a new standard of what it means to persist. If America is to fight for the dream of educational equity for all children, programs like Breakthrough Collaborative must continue to be in the vanguard of that fight.”

Quinn is a Community Organizer at Brockton Interfaith Community in Massachusetts.


Breakthrough Experience: Teacher in Miami 2008

Quinn Rallins
Edward Liu
“ I was a pre-med at Yale. It’s easy to get swept up with what your peers are doing and seduced by certain careers. Breakthrough showed me that education could be a challenging and rewarding experience. It was quite amazing: It drew me out of myself— I was a pretty shy kid—and showed me that learning should involve high expectations for everyone.”

Edward is an Assistant Professor, Rutgers Graduate School of Education.

 

Breakthrough Experience: Teacher and administrator in San Francisco from 1990 to 1992 and co-founder and co-director in Portland (Ore.) from
1992 to 1995

Edward Liu
Rhonda Broussard
“ There is a sense of creating new opportunities for students and a context for connecting with people. I saw first-hand the gains that all students make when they’re engaged and the importance of building celebratory cultures of learning. Breakthrough puts complete trust and faith in young people, the teachers as well as students. It says, ‘Everyone can!’”

Rhonda is the Executive Director of St. Louis Language Immersion Schools, Inc., a network of language immersion elementary charter schools in St. Louis.

 

Breakthrough Experience: Teacher in New Orleans in 1992 and 1993 and in Kansas City in 1994 and 1995

Rhonda Broussard
Rhea Wong
“ As a student, I found this place where I could drop my armor and let my love of learning show. There was this community that was very uncynical, where there was a spirit of being vulnerable and taking risks and expressing joy and enthusiasm. This is an organization that has given a lot to me and helped me prioritize what’s important in life. At Breakthrough, there’s a sense of righting wrongs and addressing inequalities and injustice. You get to see what’s possible when people put their hearts and souls into helping each other: magic.”

Rhea Wong is the Executive Director of Breakthrough New York.

Breakthrough experience: Student in San Francisco from 1990 to 1993. Teacher in Honolulu in 1996, Hong Kong in 1997 and New York in 1999.
Teacher recruitment manager in the national office from 2002 to 2005

Rhea Wong