By: Adrian Pachuca
Returning Teaching Fellow, Breakthrough Houston at Gregory-Lincoln Education Center (GLEC)
I am “seasoned” or, as some have argued, addicted to the Breakthrough summer. Quite frankly, I am addicted to all of the cheers, department meetings, and even the professional development. Breakthrough was my first job, and I think that really ruined the rest of my job opportunities as it raised my expectations way too high. I expected each job to give me constant feedback and support but, most importantly, I wanted a place where I could authentically be heard. No other job does that to the caliber that Breakthrough does; there’s a reason why Breakthrough was my first job and has been my only job. Breakthrough listened to what I had to say even when I started off as a Teaching Assistant. Kathy and Morris facilitated my growth, which got me hooked on the Breakthrough spirit.
Love at First Sight
Little did I know that the level of support and positive Breakthrough Houston culture was the start of me falling deeply in love with education. I knew education was important at a young age. My mom would drill into my head that education was the key to success. My father’s words would hammer in my head when I would begin to lose my grit: “En la vida, nomas te voy a dejar la educación.” My parents’ firm belief in education instilled a passion that drove me to seek the best opportunities; however, it also taught me to advocate for myself in the classroom. I am not struggling or studying just for myself in college; I am struggling for my family. It was Breakthrough who showed me the importance of teaching students their worth in the classroom. I teach them that it is okay if they make mistakes. It is okay if you text me after school with a question. . . just be sure it is a complete sentence! Breakthrough creates a supportive space where students have access to consistent teachers and fortifies each student’s claim to their own education. I remember feeling like I didn’t belong in high school or college classrooms, and I use those experiences of isolation to guide me in creating a classroom where students can learn freely and confidently.
The Breakthrough Spirit
I will admit that coming back for a third year was a difficult decision to make. I love Breakthrough dearly, but the demand is large. Early mornings and late nights can be draining, and you can only do so much “for the kids.” Yet, looking at my 7th graders today, I can’t help but feel “zesty” (a Breakthrough character strength we work to cultivate). The first day I was able to meet them and have them in my classroom, I couldn’t stop smiling. Everyday, I wake up happy knowing I’m going to a job I love; I wake up happy, knowing that I am helping students remember and claim their value. Every time I think I can leave my addiction, I always just end up reflecting on my experiences and talking myself out of it. I love seeing my students learn, and I love seeing them want to learn. The Breakthrough summer always starts around my birthday, and I can’t think of a better present than being with my students.
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