Molly Sloss

My name is Molly Sloss. I am a senior Urban Studies major at Penn, and more importantly, I am lucky enough to be a two-year Breakthrough teacher.  My Breakthrough story began the summer after my sophomore year at Penn. I heard about the program from a friend and was eager to try it out. She had taught two summers with Breakthrough Minneapolis herself and described the experience as “life-changing.” I couldn’t wait to see if I had what it takes to be a great teacher. So, I accepted a 9-week internship that placed me at the front of my 7th and 8th grade math classroom. 

That summer, I learned the meaning of hard work, and I loved every second of it.  I spent sleepless nights grading homework assignments and re-writing Beyoncé lyrics so that my students and I could sing our way through dividing fractions.  I spent morning carpools catching up with other teachers on my mentees’ academic progress. I spent my lunch breaks chasing a soccer ball up and down the field and I spent my evenings in purposeful, reflective conversation on what impact I was actually making.

I expected this work to be hard. I expected to put my all into six weeks of experiencing life with my students. I expected that at the end I would walk away and use my experience to make my insulated, privileged world better. But what I didn’t expect was that two years later I would still be here, would still be part of the Breakthrough family, talking to you all today. There is something about what Breakthrough is that makes it very hard to leave. 

Breakthrough is teachers.  Every summer a group of 32 of us, excited, college students, share our love of learning with 200 students. We teach them math, science, English--but it’s what they teach us that is the foundation of Breakthrough.

Breakthrough is community.  I can’t describe to you the feeling of watching my students help each other with their work, arguing over where to put a decimal point but starting each sentence with “I understand what  you’re saying, but I think…”

Breakthrough is support.  We cheer each other on for correctly guessing the vocab word of the day.  We hold the door for each other and we ask a sad peer what’s wrong.  We celebrate each other’s successes.  We snap for critical thinking.  I learned that the most productive work is work done together.

Breakthrough is passion.  Two years ago, I found my passion in a middle school math classroom.  Behind a grey classroom door and in front of a collection of eager students, magic happened.  It was 20 minutes into my first lesson when I felt the electricity of my inaugural “a-ha” moment.  Since then, I’ve been hooked.

Hopefully, this time next year I will be standing in front of my own middle school math classroom.  We might not be singing and dancing about dividing fractions, but Breakthrough will be there. Because no matter where I go next or who I am learning from and teaching to, I will always be, most importantly, a very proud Breakthrough teacher.

Breakthrough showed me a better part of myself, Breakthrough helped me become Ms. Molly.

I am me/Ms. Molly – but I am also my students Takyah, Rakeem, Alexis, and Julio. I am Jess and Caroline, and all the Breakthrough staff.  I am Darlenny and I am Akheel.  We are all parts of each other and we are all Breakthrough.