Anthony Harb

"We stand for every member of this community having the support to be their best selves at all times and discover their passions and interests in a safe place where it’s okay to make mistakes, and its okay to be growing from those mistakes, even if it means there are some rough patches along the way. We stand for being together, as one staff, as one team, as one community, and as one Breakthrough."

Hi Everybody! My name is Anthony Harb and it is my great pleasure and honor to welcome you all today to Breakthrough of Greater Philadelphia. I am originally from Chicago, IL but am currently a rising junior at Carleton College in Northfield, MN, where I am a Spanish Major with a double concentration in Latin American Studies and Educational Studies.  I am also the person who would’ve told you last June that “I would NEVER be a teacher.” I always thought that I would do something else with my life. I resented the fact that my only option, according to the rest of the world, was to be a Spanish teacher. What else are you going to do with a Spanish major, right? As much as I resented it, I decided to apply for Breakthrough after a quick peruse of the website. It was an internship that allowed me to live on the east coast (somewhere I’d never been), have an organization with a great reputation on my resume, and prove to everyone that I didn’t want to be a teacher. After all, I’d never tried it and assumed that actually doing it would illuminate the fact that I didn’t want to do it for the rest of my life.  I’ve never been more wrong.

It only took about 2 weeks of teaching my two math classes to realize that standing in front of a classroom, teaching, was exactly what I wanted to do for a very long time. The rush I got (and still get) from standing in front of the classroom is something I had never felt before. That was just one of the 8 million unexpected things that happened last summer. From training to the first day of teaching to staying up really late everyday planning lessons to establishing incredibly close relationships with my staff and my students, Breakthrough was a roller coaster taking unexpected turns every single day. But that was the most amazing part. I never knew what to expect, but everything that came up seemed to make the experience even better than it already was, something I didn’t think was even possible.

I spent the majority of my summer overwhelmed with the emotion I was feeling. Most of the emotion I was feeling stemmed from the realization that I wasn’t working with just middle school students from Philadelphia and Camden; I was working with young leaders who knew exactly what it meant to work hard to get ahead. The students here aren’t just middle school students; they are little people full of energy, motivation, curiosity, and determination who know the obstacles that stand in their way and are ready to defeat them and keep running without ever looking back. These students know what it takes, and are ready to put in the work to get there. My students impress me every single day, whether it be the quality of homework they produce regardless of the obstacles I know they are facing or the amazing poets they can be, or the genuine intellectual curiosity to know why you can solve an algebraic equation the way you do. These students don’t let anyone or anything get in the way of their success, and every member of the strong Breakthrough community is here to help guide them to their dreams. No student goes unnoticed here, because that’s not what we stand for and you wouldn’t be able to ignore one even if you tried.

We stand for students having the chance to live up to their potential and do whatever they want to do with their lives. We stand for every member of this community having the support to be their best selves at all times and discover their passions and interests in a safe place where it’s okay to make mistakes, and its okay to be growing from those mistakes, even if it means there are some rough patches along the way. We stand for being together, as one staff, as one team, as one community, and as one Breakthrough. We are Breakthrough of Greater Philadelphia, and we have really high expectations. Every single member of our community commits themselves to hard work, dedication, respect, fun, and above all, excellence in learning. That’s what makes Breakthrough so different, so special, and so powerful. This job, these staff members, those teachers, and our students, made Breakthrough so much more than just a resume builder and an opportunity to live on the east coast. Those aspects made my experience a truly life changing experience that allowed me to find my passion and my purpose, and for that, I will be eternally grateful. Thank you.