By: Dorinda Kyeremateng
Breakthrough Houston Teaching Fellow, College Bound Summer 2021
“What better way to give back to Breakthrough than teaching for it?”
I posed this question to myself earlier this year, and the outcome has been nothing short of magnificent. As someone who’s been in Breakthrough since sixth-grade, I’ve seen both my friends and myself grow into the talented young adults we are today. I thought to myself, “Why not motivate other students to succeed as well?”
With every lesson I taught this summer, I learned something incredible from Breakthrough Houston. Each day was a brand new experience that I can barely summarize in a few paragraphs. But if you take anything from this, know how impactful this program is for both its students and its Teaching Fellows!
The Need for Energy
After a year of virtual learning, I had hardly enough energy to continue waking up before 9:00. Besides, I’d just graduated! Like most of my friends, I was looking forward to the Senior Summer I’d never forget — one chock full of pre-college rest and relaxation.
Nonetheless, working with Breakthrough meant being committed to something greater than my sleep. I went from rolling out of bed five minutes before school to waking up with plenty of time to eat breakfast and prepare for class! I saw how excited my fellow Teaching Fellows were to teach with Breakthrough, and their energy inspired me to bring my best self forward each day. However, the TFs weren’t my only source of inspiration. Seeing my kids come to class each day excited to learn was a sign that they were eager to improve themselves. They were always ready to participate and lead activities, so how could I not participate with just as much vigor? The Breakthrough community has always been energetic, and I was thrilled to encourage this excitement as a teacher.
Affirmation? What’s That?
As a Breakthrough student myself, the words “we are Breakthrough” have always been a sign of lifelong bonds and a strong community. The call-and-response chant that follows had been ingrained in my mind for years as I shouted it every day of my middle school summer session.
We are Breakthrough!
And we commit ourselves
To hard work
And above all
Excellence in learning
I’m not sure when or how it happened, but along the way, the memory of this cheer faded away. Near the start of the summer, I was asked to recall the chant, and I couldn’t even remember what an affirmation was! Luckily one of my TFs with a better recollection than my own swooped in to save the day, and soon enough, the memories came flooding back. Although I couldn’t remember the cheer initially, the value of its positive words never faded. I hadn’t realized how significant the affirmation was in middle school, but now that I’m older, I realize exactly why Breakthrough promotes it: the uplifting energy it instills in everyone is remarkable, and I hope everyone can be inspired by its words.
The Joys of Teaching!
I never planned on being a teacher. While I’ve always appreciated the wonderful people who have taught me, being the center of attention in a room of thirty kids never sounded all that exciting for an introvert like myself. However, being in a Zoom classroom this summer turned my perspective around! Since I sat alone in my room, I didn’t feel awkward about being in the spotlight at all. Instead, I could focus on the lesson at hand without thinking about all the eyes on me. My voice isn’t the loudest either, so speaking through a computer was a great help! Of course, teaching through Zoom and teaching in-person have wildly different attributes, but having this opportunity felt like a great way to test the waters and see how I’d enjoy teaching in a growth-focused environment. To my surprise, it was amazing! Watching my kids’ progress and their appreciation of my efforts made this summer wonderfully fulfilling, and I wouldn’t have traded it for anything else.
Preparing effective, skilled teachers is a defining strategy in Breakthrough Houston’s approach to closing the opportunity gap. Support this and critically needed student programs by:
- Donating now and transforming the life of a Houston student.
- Following us on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
- Exploring our website to learn more about the programs that bring transformative, measurable results.
- Contacting Kathy Heinzerling, Executive Director, or Melinda Guthrie, Director of Development.
Houston students need our support more than ever before. We are grateful for your partnerships in bringing equitable education and life-changing opportunities to under-resourced Houston students.