Celebrating 30 Years of Breakthroughs in Stories

Breakthrough Manchester – 30 Years On – Contributed by Marcus Hurlbut, The Derryfield School Headmaster 1982-1994

It is an honor to write celebrating the 30th Anniversary of Breakthrough Manchester and offering a few thoughts on its founding in 1991. Although I have been away from Derryfield since 1994, I have followed with great interest the growth and success of this extraordinary program, and am enormously proud of what Breakthrough has become today and the lives it has impacted. 

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Breakthrough was meant to be! -Story of BTM Student & Teaching Fellow Alumna Lainee Shaughnessy

“My college journey started when I was 11 and I know if it wasn’t for the continuous support, encouragement, and opportunities supplied by Breakthrough Manchester that I wouldn’t be the nurse I am today!”

                                                          – Lainee

A series of near misses almost cost 11-year-old Lainee Shaughnessy her chance to connect with Breakthrough Manchester (then Summerbridge) at The Derryfield School. Years later the stars aligned more clearly for her. She recently returned to Manchester as Derryfield’s school nurse and an advisor to Breakthrough students who attend Derryfield as participants in the Amoskeag Scholar Program – Lainee has come full circle! 

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Tinyhood Founder “leaned into discomfort” to launch a thriving startup!Susan Beaudry Blinn, Breakthrough Student and Teaching Intern Alumna

There’s a reason Susan Beaudry Blinn’s phone still has a favorite photo of herself as the student speaker at 1997’s Breakthrough Manchester (then known as Summerbridge) Celebration! (It wasn’t until she was a Teaching Intern herself that she retrospectively realized she had been  chosen as the speaker because she was one of the shyest students.) The Breakthrough norm, “lean into discomfort” is what put Susan on her path to college, computer science engineering, and ultimately co-founding her own company.

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Remembering Nancy TessierA Hero, a mentor, a critical friend to and builder of Breakthrough!

“I’ve been waiting my whole life for a program like this!”

– Nancy on the Founding of Summerbridge (Breakthrough) Manchester in 1991

Breakthrough Manchester was humbled and honored to be chosen as the recipient of memorial gifts in Nancy Tessier’s obituary (1941-2021). With the passing of Nancy, Breakthrough and the world of Education lost a shining star. Nancy was a true advocate for equitable education, as shared in her obituary, “Nancy was deeply devoted to educating Manchester’s children, but also to cultivating and mentoring the next generation of teachers. As a colleague, union negotiator, assistant principal and principal, and later as assistant superintendent and a school board member, Nancy’s advocacy for both students and teachers influenced the Manchester School District at every level.”

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Joel VargasWest Coast Breakthrough Student & Teacher, East Coast Director

“Everything was always a stretch assignment with Breakthrough…it stretches you beyond what you think you can achieve and with the right support you become what you couldn’t have imagined yourself to be!”

Joel Vargas’ parents put education first and dreamed of him attending Harvard one day! Growing up in a working class Bay Area neighborhood with a fair share of concentrated poverty meant that Joel’s middle school was a tough environment for learning. Joel liked school because he did well, but it was not a very rigorous academic environment and he never had to try very hard. At the time, Joel didn’t realize he should be learning a lot more to achieve his dream of going to college. 

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Siblings, Teaching and Learning Together at Breakthrough

Lajla and Dalila’s parents moved to the United States from Bosnia in 2001 to give their future family a better life. They had completed trade school in Bosnia, but the US educational system was not familiar to them. However,  they ingrained in their daughters that college is an expectation…and Breakthrough Manchester is helping them meet this expectation.

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