Today, I am unsubscribing from my numerous e-mail lists, giving the mess of files on my desk the appearance of being organized (Ha! Good luck Dave!), saying goodbye to my favorite Financial District baristas, and turning over my keys to the Breakthrough teacher empire.
I first came to Breakthrough as a teacher in 2003. Like many of our teachers, I had taken part in my share of student leadership programs and community service activities, and I saw Breakthrough as just another chance to build my skills and maybe help some kids out at the same time. Instead I found myself stretching muscles I didn’t know I had and, for the first time, I was asked to take on real responsibility for my students and trusted to find it inside of me to succeed. I was treated not like a kid “rehearsing” skills reserved for grownups, but rather like a professional. Needless to say, it was a rush, and I got hooked. Those of you who check in with your Breakthrough site or your students year after year or keep an eye on TeachBreakthroughs.org know what I’m talking about, I’m sure. I have been working with Breakthrough in some capacity ever since.
In about six weeks I’ll be starting classes in the Stanford Teacher Education Program, with plans to enter the classroom as a middle school social studies teacher in the fall of 2010. I’m following dozens of Breakthrough teachers before me into STEP and, based on their examples, I plan on growing into an effective lifelong educator. It was no small comfort to find that several of my classmates also have Breakthrough in their recent pasts, and that we will be able to walk in the door with a genuine understanding that underserved students need stronger teachers and a more rigorous curriculum than their more privileged peers. Any Breakthrough alumnus can walk into any teacher’s college in this country with, yes, an impressive resume, but also with a drive to change education rooted in a realistic vision of what that really means on the ground. What’s more, I think each of you have a responsibility to have that impact.
It has been a pleasure working for this network of Breakthrough teachers and alumni for the last few years. I’ve been inspired by the work that so many have gone on to do and I’ve grown from your challenging questions and your distinct perspectives. Even as I take that next step in my career, though, I will still see Breakthrough as my home base. I’m subscribing to TeachBreakthroughs.org, I’ll be volunteering at my local affiliate whenever I get a chance, and I’ll be giving Dave updates on where I land and what I’m up to. I’ll be writing down the URL for the application and forcing it into the hands of every bright, service-oriented 15-23 year old high school or undergraduate college student I can find. I’ll ask Dave to post job openings that I hear about, and I’ll ask him for job referrals when I need them. In so doing I’ll be enriching this network, and ensuring that Breakthrough achieves its goal of making teaching respected as an aspirational professional career for America’s brightest young people.
Dave will continue this work, and I couldn’t be more pleased to leave the teacher network in his capable hands. This community will only continue to deepen from here on out, but we will, as always, need your passion, your ideas, and your connection to make it happen. Breakthrough needs you.
Best of luck, and until next time,