Jolie: The Picture of Persistence
Dear Breakthrough Friend,
Jolie is the picture of persistence.
I first met Jolie when she was only eight years old, the younger sister of a Breakthrough student, Jonathan. She was reserved, yet eager, and I knew to expect a Breakthrough application from her when she reached fifth grade.
On her application to Breakthrough, I was struck by Jolie’s thorough completion of every section. I loved her imagination and creativity in writing about her favorite books and dream job, and her thoughtful essay outlined the need for more quality after school programs in Manchester to keep kids out of trouble while their parents were still working. I was impressed that she reflected on her own leadership as a peer mediator at school, as well as on her academic skills and confidence. Demographically, Jolie was a match for Breakthrough, especially as a future first-generation college graduate and a student from one of Manchester’s highest poverty schools. I was heartened to read about the support and encouragement from her mom and her older brother to pave her own path to higher education.
I wanted to take Jolie right away, but I admit, I was a bit nervous. Math was a HUGE challenge for Jolie. She wrote, “I don’t understand math as quickly as my classmates do.” I knew she would need to dedicate focused time to math, tackling her most difficult subject. I wasn’t sure how she would respond to this task. In welcoming her into our new sixth grade class, I hoped that we could provide an environment where she was both challenged and supported.
In 2011, we intentionally built Jolie’s academic schedule around a math coaching session, where in addition to her daily pre-algebra class, she received instruction with her math teacher. During the past two summers, I watched Jolie work diligently with her math coaches, Megan and Kyle, to practice and refine her math skills and to develop confidence in her own math abilities. While math coaching sessions were optional for Jolie, she chose them over other extracurricular activities. She knew that improving her speed in multiplication was getting her one step closer to her goal of college. At the end of the summer, Jolie said, “It was also very hard and confusing at times, but the challenges are worth it.”
In August, I anxiously awaited the results of our post-summer math assessment. Jolie made tremendous growth, increasing her score by 100%. Although proud of her accomplishment, I knew Jolie would not stop there. Even now, Jolie’s persistence continues to inspire me to work hard for those things that seem the most unattainable. She comes to additional tutoring sessions during the school year, honing her skills, and increasing her academic confidence. She will not back down from a challenge; she tries her hardest with a positive attitude, always looking for ways to improve. In short, she has grit.
You can be part of Jolie’s educational path. While she acknowledges that there will be bumps on her road, she is ready and willing to persevere. Jolie is already on her way to her goal of attaining a four-year college degree, thanks to your support and encouragement.
Please give as generously as you can to support educational opportunity, challenge and persistence for Jolie and her classmates at Breakthrough. Partner with us to pave the road to college for underserved students while building a capable, diverse teaching corps to transform the classrooms of the future.
Kate Erskine, Executive Director