By: Marquay Spencer-Gibbs

Breakthrough Houston Teaching Fellow at Connect, Summer 2021

I left Durham, NC with the intention of coming back reinvigorated to start my 3rd year as an English Education student at North Carolina Central University. In the few short weeks that I’ve been a Teaching Fellow with Breakthrough Houston, I have learned so much and still have plenty left to learn. I applied to Breakthrough because, as an aspiring educator, it is my mission to become the best educator possible so that I may guide, support, and mold scholars in the same way that my teachers did for me. I submitted my application wholeheartedly believing that I was meant to be a Teaching Fellow this summer. Every day that I arrive at the Connect site is a reaffirmation that I was meant to be here this summer. In this blog post, I hope to share some nuggets of wisdom that I have learned during my time here in Houston.

  1. Lean into your discomfort. That is where you growth lies.

Coming to Breakthrough, I had a vague idea of what a growth mindset looked like. I understood what it meant to constantly grow a a person, but as a budding professional, that looked completely different than what I was used to. Going from being in virtual spaces for a year to being in-person and interacting with students, parents, and colleagues was something that took a while to get used to. However, I would not have it any other way. Getting out of my comfort zone is a mountain that I am working on overcoming, and Breakthrough Houston has given me the space to do so.

2. Your representation matters!

Representation matters! YOU MATTER. Growing up, I didn’t have any teachers that looked like me, and it was not until the 7th grade that I had an African-American teacher. It warms my heart that I am able to be the representation that Breakthrough Houston’s students need in order to feel seen and validated in their own skin. Being able to be me in this space, while also inspiring those who know me as Mr. S-G, has allowed me to appreciate my journey and has given me the fuel to continue my journey in education. I look forward to learning more about my students, their backgrounds, and seeing them grow throughout this summer.

3. Strive to be the teacher that you wish you had growing up. 

During my short time at Breakthrough, I have had the opportunity to meet and teach some AMAZING kids with so much potential. From ASM (all-school meetings), Shabooyah (fun rhymes chanted rhythmically), to our cultural activities on Fridays, it gives me so much joy to bring my energy and zest to the classroom for my students so that they can continue to foster their love of learning — not only in the classroom, but in life as well.

Although I am weeks into my summer as a Teaching Fellow with Breakthrough Houston, I know that I will continue to learn and grow as an educator and come out of this amazing journey with skills that will impact myself and others for a lifetime.

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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.