“Being introduced to Breakthrough is how I fell in love with education.”
With a warm smile and sleepy eyes, Joy Delizo-Osborne admits that she and her partner have a newborn at home and the rumors are true about new parents, sleep is a precious commodity for her these days.
It doesn’t take long, however, for her to get energized talking about Breakthrough (Summerbridge at the time) and how fond her memories are of being a Teaching Fellow for three different affiliates in as many summers. After her first summer teaching in Portland, Joy taught with Breakthrough Cambridge and Breakthrough Philadelphia.
In search of the right vocation after college, she was skeptical about teaching. Joy heard from an early age that she would be a fantastic teacher, but it wasn’t until she stepped into a classroom and shared her passion for reading with a group of students that a spark was ignited. “When I was able to work with Breakthrough students on poetry and writing, all while having the autonomy to loosely choose what students were learning in my classroom, that’s when I fell in love with teaching.”
“What we’re really depending upon is a teacher’s passion and commitment to kids.”
Joy recalls Breakthrough being ahead of its time in many ways. “To think that there was an academic summer program focused on giving students recognition, honoring who they are and where they come from, and making ‘joy’ a central focus, was really special. While being culturally relevant is part of common parlance now, it wasn’t at the time,” Joy recollects. “Breakthrough was all about finding ways to engage with students and encourage them to speak about their experiences.”
Joy’s experience as a Teaching Fellow was inspired by her brother Jonathan, who became a Breakthrough Miami student in the fifth grade. It’s not lost on Joy that their family’s focus on education was both significant and rare. “Our family, led by our ‘super-mom,’ was always focused on education, so we were able to find resources and opportunities that helped us become successful. But not every family has the same bandwidth,” she recalls, “I see Breakthrough as being an amazing opportunity to help the families that don’t have the same time, energy and resources that we had, to still ensure Brown and Black students are seen and eventually get into college.”
Today, Joy’s passion for education has translated into even more impact for students and families in her community. As the incoming President at Student Achievement Partners, Joy leads the organization in its commitment to support the adoption of high-quality, representative and standards-aligned instructional materials. However, this is just one of the many facets integral to providing high-quality education to students. “From policy to inequity, we’re up against so many challenges within the system as educators. So what we’re really depending upon is a teacher’s passion and commitment to kids, and Breakthrough builds that in a way that few other programs do.”
“Breakthrough was all about finding ways to engage with students and encourage them to speak about their experiences.”
Finally, when asked to reflect upon what made Breakthrough such an impactful program when she was introduced to it years ago, Joy takes a moment and smiles. As assured and confident as a third-year Breakthrough Teaching Fellow in their final lesson for the summer, she responds, “Breakthrough is a place that builds potential teachers’ interest and love of education early in their lives. To have younger folks build that joy and energy around teaching while seeing the humanity in students is life-changing.”
Learn more about Joy’s organization, Student Achievement Partners.