Meet Our Teachers

"Breakthrough is a really big part of why I became a teacher.  It gave me the strength to stand up for my dream even against those who disagreed with my choices.  I know that I am right where I belong."

"The experience of being in Philadelphia changed everything.  After that summer, I could not think of anything I wanted to do more than work in education."

Chesare Warren was a young college student at Concordia University in Chicago still "on the fence" about the direction of his future.

"My parents saw me going into law or medicine, some high-paying profession," he says, "but I didn't know what I wanted to do."

Caroline Smith is Breakthrough’s newest staff addition. A 2011 Smith College graduate, she is the kind of idealistic, passionate and dedicated team member that any organization would be lucky to have.

Next summer it will be 10 years since I arrived to teach physics and life skills at what was then Summerbridge Philadelphia.   It was not just my first time in Philly, but it was also my first true teaching experience.  When I began studying at Stanford three years prior I thought I was destined for a career in computer science or engineering.  At the time, I had never considered a career in education, but looking back now I can’t imagine a career behind a desk or in front of a computer.  The summer at Breakthrough gave me the chance to experiment in a field far from the computer programming halls.

I always thought teachers knew it all
My amount of knowledge seemed so small
Now I see teachers are most aware
Of all the kinds of people out there

I can honestly say that what surprised me the most about teaching this summer was the dedication and hard work of the students. As a middle schooler, if anyone ever asked me to give up my summer to be in class I would have adamantly refused. Day after day these students worked hard.

Breakthrough is inspiring in so many ways. Breakthrough students are complex, ambitious individuals who always make me think. The community of teachers at Breakthrough is a constant source of support, inspiration, and camaraderie. They have inspired me to keep asking the big questions and keep trying to grow as a person and teacher. Breakthrough has only added fuel to my fire to explore urban education and think about my place within it.