Each year I come back to Breakthrough, and I genuinely believe in THEIR vision and mission statement even more. It reminds me of the saying, “BE the change you want to see in this world.”
My name is Nicholas Wilson and I am Secondary Education Major at Cairn University. This marks my 3rd year at Breakthrough Philly and ironically, my mission for why I teach here has not changed. Growing up ten minutes outside of Philadelphia would appear to be an insignificant dynamic socially, academically, economically etc.; however, the privileges I have been able to receive going to a school in lower-middle-class suburbia, are leaps and bounds beyond what many of the students I teach are provided with due to the area in which they live. Going to college, I learned very quickly the advantages and power of having a quality education. With the public education system in Philadelphia growing progressively worse, due to budget cuts, poor spending, ineffective teachers, unengaged administration, and students not recognizing the WHY behind learning the fundamentals of a thesis statement or basic algebra, many of our students are faced with disadvantages FAR before they have stepped foot into the classroom.
Each year I come back to Breakthrough, and I genuinely believe in THEIR vision and mission statement even more. It reminds me of the saying, “BE the change you want to see in this world.” Every day, Monday through Friday, our students dedicate 7 long hours of their SUMMER to a program in which they KNOW will better equip them for high school and college. They then go home after 7 hours DURING THEIR SUMMER BREAK and complete 2 hours’ worth of homework. What inspires me every single year is realizing that my students must work 3 times as hard as I did growing up to achieve what was practically placed in my lap…a quality education to assure a promising future. It is THEIR drive that allows my average of 14 hours every day of teaching, mentoring, grading papers, editing lesson plans, and writing student evaluations seem more of a privilege than a job.
I teach my students every year that I have high expectations for them…nothing less. However, what I fail to expect every single year is how much I would grow to love my students and grow in awe of their brilliance, hardships, strength, and humor. Measuring the quality of an education is hard to assess. Tests do not display a student’s leadership abilities. Homework does not reflect a student’s grasp on community. Quizzes do not scale a student’s level of compassion; but, having a student come up to me and say, “Mr. Nick, because of you I have learned to love writing,” or “I do not like to show my emotions to people, but this conversation was really helpful for me,” or “Can I do my homework over again, I know that I can show better work than this” undoubtedly show the effects Breakthrough has on both the students and teachers.
Each teacher invests two weeks of orientation, where we are trained on how to be a teacher, mentor and Breakthrough. 6 weeks of teaching and interacting with the students, which includes events such as Olympics, City Day, Spirit Week, and a field trip to Wildwood. 1 night of celebration where you see all your students present what they received this summer, and suddenly, those 8 exhausting weeks makes sense. I have been blessed with the opportunity to be a part of a program that pours in as it reaches out. I feel more equipped than ever to start my career as an educator due to the training, and experience I have received at Breakthrough Philadelphia, and hope to use my skill-set as both a teacher and mentor to “be that change” our students most desperately need.