What a wild ride!

March 1, 2010

Hey Breakthrough!

Wow, I guess people really do respond to deadlines…

On Thursday afternoon, there were 876 applications submitted through our online system. At the application deadline of 5:00pm PST today we had received 1932 applications. This is 167 less than the total we had at the application deadline last year. Mindblowing.

As I look out over the next few weeks, I want to send a huge burst of energy and focus to our incredible Site Directors who will be reading through application after application, interviewing candidates over the phone, in person and on Skype and generally wearing themselves to the bone in order to build the strongest team possible to lead our students in our summer academic bootcamps.  Good luck, Directors!

And, speaking of good wishes: I want to send some to our applicants. Thank you and good luck!  Thank you for committing yourselves to this application process, to the premier pre-professional teaching internship in the country and to Breakthrough’s vision:

At Breakthrough, we envision a day when all children will have equal access to excellent educational opportunities and enthusiastic teachers committed to students’ educational success.

We can’t wait to welcome the class of 2010.

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Writing Through Literature?

January 6, 2010

Everyday I recieve questions from Teacher Applicants about the process and content of the Teacher Applicaiton. This was my most recent questions from Sara from Brown University:

I am applying for a teaching position with Breakthrough this summer, and I have one question about the application– what is “Writing through Literature”? The application brochure does not go into detail, and I couldn’t find anything about it on the website. I wanted to write a lesson plan based on it, and it would be helpful to have more information about the course.

I recruited some extra help from Founder of Breakthrough Collaborative, Lois Looffbourrow, to respond to this question. Check it out:

In the top 9th grade classes in this country, students will be expected to write clear concise expository prose, perhaps comparing and contrasting two protagonists from two works of literature, perhaps discussing the symbolism of the journeys taken by characters in a short story.  For so many of our students, they don’t get a chance to hone their writing skills.  Writing is more than formulaic, it is about learning how to discover your voice, test your opinions, prove your thesis.  At Breakthrough,  the strength of our writing program across the curriculum is critical.  Our literature teachers are often the ones that help lead students to better appreciate the craft of writing, the imperative of writing.  For example, were you teaching Romeo and Juliet to 8th graders, you would need to ask yourself a series of questions as you designed your curriculum: How do I bring writing into the classroom, into my students’ homework?  How do I prepare my students to take a final examine with essay questions?  How do I help them improve on their basic five-paragraph essays? I truly believe that reading and writing in Literature go hand in hand.

Hope this helps!!!  Thanks for sending Dave this question!!  It is fun to think of all of you pondering the application and dreaming of working with amazing students.


Your 2010 Campus Recruiters :: Pt 1

December 4, 2009

Courtney Cross-Johnson
University of Miami
Breakthrough Breakthrough Atlanta

Courtney N. Cross-Johnson is a junior at the University of Miami.  She is a first-generation college student majoring in Psychology with two minors in English and Human & Social Development.  At the University she dedicates herself to United Black Students, Organization for Jamaican Unity, and her school’s chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.  In the summer of 2009 Courtney taught at Breakthrough Atlanta in which she served as a teacher of History and Spanish, as well as a family head.  Teaching at Breakthrough Atlanta confirmed her desire to pursue education as a career.  Courtney is excited to graduate in 2011 and pursue the opportunity to be a member of Teach for America in her home of New Jersey. She hopes to receive a Master’s in Education Administration and inspire more people from her community graduate from a college.  Courtney is forever grateful that she was selected to be a teacher for Breakthrough and encourages any student interested in education or simply interested in impacting children’s lives to submit an application.

Pranav Nanda
Stanford University
Breakthrough Cambridge

Pranav Nanda is a junior at Stanford University where he is pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics. Pranav grew up in an environment emphasizing the importance and value of education, and so he began teaching with Breakthrough in 2007 at the Cambridge site, where he was quickly infected by the program’s contagious enthusiasm and infused with its powerful sense of purpose. He has been unable to leave ever since, returning to Cambridge as a member of the Leadership Team in the summers of 2008 and 2009. As a campus recruiter he hopes to share the wonder of Breakthrough with his college peers and help bring together the complementarily vibrant Stanford and Breakthrough communities.

Binh Doan
Yale University
Breakthrough Manchester

Binh Doan is a sophomore at Yale University where she is currently pursuing a degree in biology.  Binh is originally from New Hampshire where she graduated from Manchester Central High School in 2008.  Binh has been involved with Breakthrough since she started the program in 2001 as a student at Breakthrough Manchester.  Her experiences at Breakthrough has changed the way she views education and has inspired her to entertain a possible career in education.  Binh is excited to spread the word about Breakthrough on campus.  As a campus recruiter, she hopes to motivate her peers to teach for Breakthrough through sharing her own struggles and triumphs as a student and teacher of the program.

Hunter Bruton
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Breakthrough Fort Lauderdale

Hampton “Hunter” Bruton is a Morehead-Cain Scholar at the University of North Carolina. Hunter, a Religious Studies and Political Science double major, became interested in Breakthrough as a freshman and spent the 2009 summer in Fort Lauderdale, FL working at the Breakthrough site there where he gained an extreme appreciation for the program’s impact on resolving the national education problem. Upon returning to the UNC campus, Hunter sought ways to influence the national Breakthrough problem drawing him to the campus recruiter post. As a campus recruiter Hunter’s main objective is enlarging the recruiting base by multiple and differentiated means to provide Breakthrough with a qualitative and quantitative base of able college students for its program.


Teacher Application is LIVE!

December 4, 2009

Mmmm, still got that new car smell…Get it while it’s hot, people.

Remember, read the “Teaching at Breakthrough Handbook” before applying, it will give you a great overview of the Breakthrough teaching experience and help you nail the application.


Teaching at Breakthrough Handbook

December 2, 2009

In preparation for our upcoming teacher application launch (going live within hours!), please view the 2010 Teaching at Breakthrough Handbook. It provides an over-arching view of the Breakthrough teaching experience and sets you up to nail the application. Required reading for all teacher applicants!


TFA Blogger :: Breakthrough Manchester’s Stany Leblanc

November 3, 2009

Stany LeblancGreetings Breakthrough-

My name is Stany Leblanc and I a Breakthrough Teacher Alumni. I taught in the summers of ’06, ’07, and ’08 in the Breakthrough Manchester program and was part of the Administrative Committee for the last two summers. I now am a Teach for America corps member in New York City teaching 6th grade English at a new public school in the South Bronx.

If you haven’t already, please visit the TFA application page. The next deadline is January 8, 2010.

Breakthrough provided me a great foundation on how to create interactive lesson plans and in knowing how to relate with students. It was great to connect to my students immediately because of my Breakthrough experience and it made the start of the school year much easier for me than other teachers. Also having an idea of how to construct a lesson plan made creating lesson plans each week a simpler task and less of a hurdle for me to overcome.

Though Breakthrough provided me with valuable skills and experiences, teaching in the New York City public schools is a struggle that I did not anticipate. It is difficult to work with different students and their divergent learning styles and problems, engage a whole class of students, and create my own plans each day while at the same time trying to improve as a teacher. Everyday brings a new problem and every lesson has its own pitfalls. Each day is a learning experience and it is difficult to assess my impact on my students.

Despite the difficulties I am starting to see early successes in my classroom. First, classroom management has become less of a problem each day. While before I was frustrated by my inability to get my class to quiet down and listen to my instructions, it is now a much easier task. My class now follows the classroom norms each day and respects my authority. It is a great feeling to walk into such a wonderful learning environment each day and this definitely has been one of my major successes.

My other major success is in creating connections with individual students. I have been involved in tutoring students after school as well as running the book club each week. Through these interactions I have been able to foster meaningful relationships with a few students that have enhanced their learning and has translated to better efforts from those students in the classroom. I am happy to have that experience with the students because that is what I believe will help me push them to success.

Teach for America is an incredible experience that has both challenged me and given me hope for my future in education. Though I know I am nowhere near being a perfect teacher, I believe that I am learning and reflecting from my experiences each day and using them to influence my growth. As my experience continues I will be glad to continue talking about it through this blog and documenting my growth as an educator in our struggling urban schools.


Campus Recruiter Application is L-I-V-E

October 13, 2009

Standard Breakthrough logoAs we begin harnessing our collective energy for this recruiting season I wanted to reach out to you and share the timeline for the Campus Recruiter Application Process and the overall Teacher Recruitment Schedule across the Collaborative. Please apply to recruit with us! We need your voice inspiring next summer’s teacher cohort.

By recruiting with Breakthrough you will be able to:

  • Share your inspiring Breakthrough experience with others on your campus
  • Connect with college recruiters from across the country
  • Build professional campaigning and networking skills
  • Support Breakthrough programming by increasing the quality of Breakthrough Teachers one at a time
  • Take on a leadership role at your campus in advocating for educational access and reform
  • Earn a $tipend and other awesome Breakthrough swag…Mmm, sweatshirts…

By following this link to the 2009-2010 Campus Recruiter Application you will be able to view, download and complete the Campus Recruiter Application. (If for some reason the link does not work, please email me immediately). The application is short but concise. You will be able to complete it quickly but make sure it is quality. The Campus Recruiter selection process is equally competitive to the teacher selection process.  Applications are due October 26th 2009 5:00 PST. I know it’s fast approaching; I also know that anyone who taught at a Breakthrough site this summer thrives under deadline.

Campus Recuiter Training will happen during the first week of November and the first week of December. The application will launch in the first week of December. While the bulk of our recruitment efforts take place in January and Feburary (with a Teacher Application deadline of March 1, 2010), it is necessary to prepare for that time with fall trainings and groundwork setting.

As you will see in the 2009-2010 Campus Recruiter Application, we have chosen 28 colleges and universities at which to pay and support Campus Recruiters. This is due to a limited amount of human and financial resources; there’s also more information/explanation inside the Campus Recruiter Application. However, we would like nothing more than to provide entreprenurial Breakthrough Ambassadors to run recruiting campaigns at your schools to deepen the Breakthrough Teacher community at your school. To that end, we will gladly provide you with recruiting resources and Breakthorugh swag. Who knows!? Perhaps, your successes will move your school into a paid recruiting school. If you are interested in this opportunity and your school is not listed on the application, please, please, PLEASE reach out to me ASAP.

All of the information you need to apply should be in the Application. Please don’t hesitate to email or call me with any questions. I sincerely look forward to your application and working with you to recruit incredible candidates to inspire and lead our students next year.