In an interest to hear more about Breakthrough programs near and far, we spoke with Sara Winnick, a 2014 Breakthrough San Francisco Teaching Fellow alum. Today Sara works as a 7th and 8th grade Humanities teacher at Our Sisters’ School in New Bedford, Massachusetts. When speaking with Sara it was nice to be reminded that Breakthrough Collaborative continues to have a national impact.

Both photos of Sara W. were taken in her time at BTSF

Sara grew up in New Haven, CT and studied Modern American History and Education Studies at Brown University. It was while Sara was at Brown that she first heard about Breakthrough. She shared with us that Breakthrough Providence and the Breakthrough Collaborative as a network have positive reputations at Brown for undergraduates interested in education and are recommended to students looking for summer internships. So Sara applied as a teaching fellow at Breakthrough San Francisco (BTSF) since her sister was living in the Bay Area.  

While at BTSF Sara received training from mentor teachers, just like the trainings we provide for our teaching fellows. One workshop lead by two mentor teachers on active participation really stuck out to her. She said that this training was one of the most memorable and useful parts of her time with the Breakthrough Collaborative. “I think about that training every day of my teaching career,” she stated.  

At Breakthrough, teaching fellows are mentored by seasoned professional educators on both theoretical and practical methods of teaching. Sara reflected that “[Breakthrough] teacher training was some of the best I’ve received.”  

Sara also really appreciated that the work she was doing and the position that she held as a teaching fellow with Breakthrough was respected beyond the limits of just a summer job. She felt that being treated more like a teacher than a camp counselor really heightened the experience for her compared to other summer internship opportunities for students interested in education.

This recognition of the job that teaching fellows do speaks a lot to Breakthrough Providence’s goal to Grow Our Own Teachers. All teaching fellows are given real responsibilities to plan and teach lessons, plan projects, evaluate students, and develop meaningful relationships with students and families. Through this approach we hope to empower our teaching fellows to become strong leaders in the world of education.

Another aspect of Sara’s time with Breakthrough that she really appreciated were the relationships between program staff, students, and their families. The intentionality of building those relationships and its impact stuck with her. In the future Sara hopes to direct a school or summer program, focusing on program management and communication with students and families.  

With the growing diversity of classrooms across the country, building relationships between educators, students, and their families is so crucial. Forming connections to students and their families as well as creating a sense of community for our students are some of the qualities we hope to foster here at BTP.  

There is more than a single tie that binds us to the Breakthrough Collaborative just like there is more than one way to experience our students-teaching-students model. While Sara’s participation with Breakthrough was not here with us, there is similarity and familiarity in her story. It’s nice to hear that Sara is pursuing a path that aligns with Breakthrough’s mission, and we wish her all the best in the meaningful task she has taken on.