As we strive to keep our students on their paths to college during these Covid times, Breakthrough has become more important than ever to provide academic, emotional, and social support. We are so grateful for the generosity of so many foundations, corporations, and individuals in our community to make Breakthrough happen!
With a theme of Astronomy, Breakthrough Students and Teaching Fellows set out this summer to “Reach for the Stars!” The Derryfield Middle School was transformed into outer space complete with a solar system, aliens, and spaceships. Our 89 students and 23 Teaching Fellows were so happy to be fully back on campus together for the first time in three summers!
Breakthrough 2020 was fully remote and 2021 was hybrid, therefore, our ninth graders had their final and best Breakthrough summer yet! It will be bittersweet for them to move on to the Breakthrough College-Bound Program at SNHU, but their one full summer was filled with Breakthrough spirit! As summed up by Shreela, “Thank you so much for always being there and supporting me. This was the best year of Breakthrough I’ve ever had!”
- Our students and Teaching Fellows live both sides of Breakthrough’s students-teaching-students dual mission:
Provide six years of intensive, tuition-free programming to support Manchester students from traditionally underserved communities on their path to college.
- Build the next generation of teachers and leaders through competitive recruitment, research-based training, and coaching from master educators.
Breakthrough’s 6-week summer program which is focused on rigorous academic enrichment with a balance of summer camp fun is the foundation of Breakthrough and where the magic truly happens. The power of near-peer relationships is the key to Breakthrough’s success. Our middle school students respond positively to high school and college-aged Teaching Fellows. Students share:
- Your class was the most relatable welcoming class I have ever had! I loved the short games at the start and end of classes. I wish we had more time together! – Anthony, 8th Grade
- Thank you for supporting me and making me laugh. You all show how much you love Breakthrough and that makes it ten times more fun! – Ace, 9th Grade
- Thank you for your time spent with me this summer, you have taught me so much and I am very grateful. You’ve made such a positive impact on me. – Shantya, 9th grade
- Thank you for sticking with me through everything. Your energy and caring nature have helped me and others a lot. – Starah, 9th grade
- Thanks for supporting me and making me more confident. You have impacted my life in the best way ever. – Rimsha, 7th grade
- Thank you for being my biggest supporter and never giving up on me. You help make learning fun and math actually make sense! – Maddie, 9th Grade
On the flip side, with a Breakthrough-provided curriculum, Teaching Fellows take ownership of their classrooms and add their own creative twists. Students study Math, Science, Writing, and Literature every day. Summer highlights include:
- 9th graders loved building roller coasters to master Newton’s Laws of Motion in Physics class.
- Drawing parallels between personal family stories of immigration and those in Farewell to Manzanar then sharing these immigration stories in storyboards based on the graphic novel format of The Arrival.
- Geometry classes used the game Twister as a hands-on and fun tool to review transformations, and Algebra students used systems of equations to determine the most cost-effective cell phone based on the number of texts that a person sends in a month.
- In Literature, the final assignment was creating Zines or small books on a topic of the students’ choice, ranging from recipes to dinosaurs, and Kanye West to Minions. This activity empowered students to share their own voices and creativity on paper and was a truly impactful writing assignment to end the year.
With the inconsistencies of Covid-impacted education, Breakthrough has been more important than ever to make up for learning loss and keep our students on the path to college. After core courses each morning to set our students up for the academic year ahead, students move into extracurriculars like Astronomy, Quidditch, Music Around the World, French, Knitting, and Lacrosse, before transitioning into afternoons of Breakthrough community-building activities. Our students had the opportunity to try lots of new things!
College is woven throughout each Breakthrough summer. Students and Teaching Fellows compete on six college teams. Olympics and Spirit Day are some of the favorite community-building events and the creativity, collaboration, spirit, and fun were contagious. Competitions ranged from artistic with cheer and shield creation, to academic with mindbenders and homework completion, to athletic with dodge ball and tug-of-war, to just plain silly – like duct-taping your teacher to a wall!
Our college-aged Teaching Fellows share their experiences through a college fair and each student ultimately visited two or three college campuses including Dartmouth where one of our College-Bound students will begin this fall. They had a personal tour of Boston University from a veteran Teaching Fellow and BU senior. All of these visits – whether in Boston or New Hampshire – allow our students, often underrepresented on college campuses, to envision themselves in college and beyond!
We were especially excited to get back to Boston in person to visit cultural sights and colleges! The 9th graders rode the famous swan boats in Boston Common, the 8th graders explored the Boston Public Library through a scavenger hunt that uncovered many treasures, and the 7th grade visited the Museum of Fine Arts to see centuries of works from mummies to modern art. Along the way, they explored Suffolk University, Emmanuel College, and Boston University as well as riding through Northeastern University on the T – always one of the Boston highlights!
It was a pleasure to support each other as we were fully in person again – the positive energy grew over the summer to an almost deafening crescendo during the final week. Our students and Teaching Fellows made stellar connections they will carry in their hearts forever. Students will begin this school year ready to tackle the work ahead and our Teachers are empowered to pursue careers in education making an impact on the national teacher shortage. For that, we are all grateful.