The Educated Become the Educators


Christopher Baker ‘23

Breakthrough teachers dress up for character day.

Andrea Andrade, Design Editor

Some Upper School students and alumni spent the summer of ‘22 as teachers and teacher assistants for Breakthrough Fort Worth. Breakthrough Fort Worth is a summer program where students teach students. While it is a summer program for high performing, under-resourced middle school students, it is also an internship for high school and college students who are interested in going into the education field. The teachers commit to an eight week internship, including two weeks of training and six weeks of teaching.

Students and alumni involved in Breakthrough included Kevin Bien ‘22, who taught English to eight grade students; Kynnedi Smith ‘20, ninth  grade writing; Joaquin Castro-Balbi ‘22 and Emma Hermesmeyer ‘23, seventh grade engineering; Mohid Sadiq ‘23, geometry; Christopher Baker ‘23 eighth grade biology; and Andrea Andrade ‘24 eighth grade chemistry..

These teachers went through an intense two weeks of training before the students began their six- week program. During the training, they sat through many lectures about which group of students they would be teaching, how to keep the students engaged, and always having the “kids in focus.” Keeping “kids in focus” was not actually for the kids but actually for the teachers.

“I like keeping kids in focus because that’s the [Breakthrough] brand,” Jessica Manzano-Valdez, Breakthrough Programming Director, said.

The teacher assistants were the ones behind the scenes. They were in charge of making signs for teachers, teams, and the commons. They were the workers behind the curtains of Breakthrough. Without them, the program would not happen. At times they also had to sub in for teachers who were absent. TA’s have the opportunity to be a teacher next year and most of them will follow this path. Summer TA’s included Rhea Alexander ‘24 eighth grade. David Yun ‘24 ninth. Holt Smith ‘23 and Chelsey Etta ‘23, admin TA’s. Finally, Tommy Weaver ‘23 was a Lead TA.

“I grew really close to the other TA’s even though it was only eight8 weeks we spent together,” Alexander said ‘24. “The program was fun, but it was the people that really made the experience amazing.”

During the day, teachers and TA’s spent all day actively engaged. They taught for two periods of the day and had an Instructional Coach meeting during one period and work time during the last period. IC’s were the instructional coaches or the teacher of the teachers. All IC’s have had multiple years of experience and were able to give ample amounts of advice to the six teachers they were mentoring. Christy Alvear, US science teacher, was in charge of the biology and chemistry teachers.

“I felt like I learned how to make my lessons more interactive. I’ve been doing this a long time, so that’s really kind of incredible,” Alvear said. “But also I really enjoyed working with my teachers and seeing them grow and become better teachers.”

After the students had their four classes each day, they headed to lunch where teachers interacted with them. After lunch were study buddies. Each teacher got a group of around six students, and during a fifty-minute time period, they helped them with their binder organization and their homework. After study buddies, everyone headed to ASM, all school meetings. Every student, TA, and teacher has to attend and the energy is off the roof.

“Seeing the kids be so supportive of each other and present for their peers was so wholesome,” Baker said. “I was so proud seeing my quietest students present in front of everyone.”

Every teacher grew over the summer. They got a taste of what being in the classroom would be like and got to form lasting relationships with fellow teachers and their students.

How to Become Involved:

There are many opportunities to become involved with the Breakthrough community. Being a teacher and seeing the impact in the six weeks  with students is a reward that is unmatched. Even when the students only see Breakthrough teachers once a month for different programs they form a bond.

During the school year, students have a Super Saturday once a month. Students have two   classes and it varies by month. This past November seventh and eighth graders had a reading and a coding class. High schoolers talked to varying professionals and asked questions about their careers.

Students interested in teaching a Saturday class, teaching during the summer, being a teaching assistant, tutoring in person or online, or even helping out in other ways, should contact Jessica Manzano-Valdez. Stop by the Breakthrough office, located in the Upper School, or email her at [email protected].