Program helps Breakthrough college barriers

All of the students an teachers from the Mounds Park Academy site during Summer 2015.

All of the students an teachers from the Mounds Park Academy site during Summer 2015.

St. Kate’s prides itself on educating its students to lead and influence in their lives. College students across the United States are changing the lives of young people each summer… and Katies can have a piece of the action too.

Now is the time to start looking for summer opportunities and internships.  Education majors and non-education majors alike should consider Breakthrough Twin Cities to gain leadership experience and an eye-opening summer.

“Breakthrough provides opportunities to [middle and high school] students in the Twin Cities,” says Casey Stage, ‘15.  Stage is a recent graduate of Concordia College in St. Paul and has been a part of Breakthrough Twin Cities for two years as a Math Teaching Fellow.  “It helps with getting kids into college and teaches them about scholarships.”

Breakthrough also teaches students valuable skills that will help them be successful from the time they finish sixth grade, through high school graduation, and into college.  They learn what the program calls Codes, which are keys to getting into college– Strive to Understand, Be Curious, and Live the Growth Mindset, to name a few.  It can also mean teaching students how to write a five paragraph essay, solve algebraic equations, conduct science experiments, and critically read literature.

The students of Silver College (Advisory).

“Breakthrough is awesome,” said Marlee Mfalingundi, ‘16.  Mfalingundi is a St. Kate’s grad, and has been teaching at Breakthrough Twin Cities for the past three years as a social studies and writing teaching fellow.  “The program is based on students teaching students so everyone– middle schoolers, teachers, and staff– are all getting something out of [the summer].”

College and high school students may apply to the program to become a teaching fellow in the areas of science, math, literature, and writing (with a focus on social studies).  No experience is necessary.  All teachers go through a two-week training where they learn how to best serve middle school students, create lesson plans, and learn about Breakthrough Culture and Customs.

Even though Breakthrough is a fast-paced program and is certainly a challenging nine weeks, it is definitely one of the most rewarding experiences.

“During Celebration (end of the summer festivities) my first summer, we had finished Faculty Song and Dance (FSD) and I looked out and I saw all the students who chose to spend their summer coming to school at 7:30 and do homework.  Everyone was crying.  They were so grateful and I was seeing the impact that I was part of.  I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Stage.

Messages left for their literature and science teachers at the end of the summer.

Messages left for their literature and science teachers at the end of the summer.

“The most rewarding part of Breakthrough is hands down, turn around, working with the kids,” said Mfalingundi.  “Especially when you know that students are still using the skills you taught them over the summer.”

Stage and Mfalingundi are both working towards their Minnesota teaching licenses at the secondary level, so Breakthrough was an amazing opportunity for them to grow as teachers and get more experience.  But Breakthrough isn’t just for those who know for certain that the world of education is calling them.  College students representing many different areas of study including engineering, history, math, women’s and LGBT studies, etc. and didn’t come to Breakthrough with the intention of earning their license and a degree in education.

“[Breakthrough is] for everyone who wants to learn more about people and break out of their own personal bubble,” said Stage.

Stage says that she has become a better observer of people.  Breakthrough has given her the opportunity to interact with students of different cultural backgrounds than her own and work with different types of students.  Being able to work with people who are not like yourself is important no matter where you’re employed in the future.

“Breakthrough helped me come out of my shell,” said Mfalingundi.  “I learned that I can be a leader if I want to be and I learned that my quiet and calmness are strengths, not weaknesses.”

Katies interested in being a teaching fellow this coming summer can apply now.  Click HERE to go right to the application.  The early decision deadline is Jan, 12, 2016, and the final deadline is Feb. 23.

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