Tartan Today has Moved: Please Click Here
Home » Features

Breakthrough San Juan Capistrano Celebrates Successful Seventh Summer

23 August 2012 admin 2,771 views No Comment Email This Post Email This Post Print This Post Print This Post

Breakthrough San Juan Capistrano celebrated in fashion and folklore on Saturday, August 4 the culmination of six weeks of intense academic instruction, which began on June 25. This seventh summer of the Breakthrough SJC program, housed 80 highly motivated middle school students for 29 program days. The students received instruction in English, math, science, social science and academic electives to prepare them for school courses this fall. From the almost 50 applicants the program received this summer, 30 eager rising seventh grade students embarked on a journey of college preparation and were challenged daily with material they will encounter at their respective schools in the fall.

Prior to the start of instruction this year, students took an exam for proper math course placement. According to the national Breakthrough Collaborative office, Breakthrough SJC demonstrated one of the highest improvements in mathematics from pre to post testing evaluation.

The students’ enthusiasm and commitment for the program was evident from the high-energy College Spirit Day held on Friday, July 29 to the end of program celebration performing in front of their peers and parents. In the classroom, the rising 7th graders read novels including “A Raisin in the Sun” and learned about the details of cell biology.

During College Spirit Day, students and intern-teacher advisors dress in school colors representing different institutions they are scheduled in during the summer program. Breakthrough students are scheduled into daily classes and are a part of a “college” to have a sense of unity. This also provides a college mentality during the summer program. All students are also scheduled into an advisory similar to St. Margaret’s and their advisors who are summer intern-teachers are part of the selected college as well.

Breakthrough students and teachers show a great deal of school spirit by chanting loudly cheers and displaying community without putting down other colleges. This summer, Breakthrough used the following institutions: Syracuse University, University of Washington, Tulane University, Tufts University and Pomona College.

At the end of program celebration, student performances showed lessons learned during the summer. As an example, two science classes performed a “cell rap” describing the multi-functions of a human cell rapping in unison and small group phrases. Also, an English class performed a small skit highlighting key messages from a novel read during the summer giving visual reference to their readings. The name of the novel used was “The Absolute True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexi.

Continuing their Breakthrough commitment, 27 rising eighth grade students returned for their second summer. As established Breakthrough students, they continued with more instruction towards becoming the first in their families to graduate from a college or university. Their summer courses were designed to meet the demands of classes taken in their last year in middle school critical for advance course placement in high school. To meet this high paced challenge, four rising eighth grade students joined the program for their first summer and thrived with the demands set before them. Collectively, 31 rising eighth grade students maintained a “Breakthrough Culture” with all-school meeting testimonials of their goals and motivation to succeed.

Under the direction of Breakthrough High School Coordinator Megan Moilanen, 19 students participated in their third Breakthrough summer as the College Bound program with focused instruction in English, biology and algebra. These courses are the fundamental platform in taking advanced high school courses to meet college admissions requirements. The 19 rising ninth grade students were the most experienced participants of the summer program. They were instrumental in presenting a leadership workshop in order to establish mentorship to younger participants of the program. Additionally, they studied and practiced multiple biological laboratory assignments to learn the intricacies of the natural sciences.

Unique to this year’s program, every Monday for three hours after the Breakthrough day was over, approximately two dozen Breakthrough students took part in an engineering class with University of California, Irvine students. Tau Beta Pi presented interactive lesson plans for Breakthrough students to learn about the functionality of science using physics and technology.

To make Breakthrough instruction possible, 17 talented students from a dozen prestigious colleges, universities and high performing high schools participated as their motivational intern-teachers. They committed to eight weeks including nine days of training, which began on Wednesday, June 13. Two former Breakthrough students served as teachers beginning the cycle of giving back to the program. One St. Margaret’s alumni returned to her alma mater of 13 years. Five Breakthrough students from previous summers now attending high school served as junior teachers assisting with daily instruction.

“I would be remised if I did not mention the tremendous effort put forth by the staff of four professional teachers,” said Jesús Montoya, Director Breakthrough San Juan Capistrano. “Their commitment to Breakthrough SJC as mentor teachers, with one additional providing algebra focused instruction, was vital to classroom instruction. Each professional teacher led an academic department and managed the curriculum given to students maintaining subject specific requirements for each grade level. Their talent as professional teachers provided the structure needed for intern-teachers to gain skills in providing lessons and classroom management. More than half of our Breakthrough teachers attend institutions outside Orange County. We are deeply grateful to their generous home stay families who marvelously hosted their summer accommodations. Having this stability provided teachers with support and time to focus on the daily instruction given to our amazing Breakthrough students. Thank you St. Margaret’s families and others who supported our program and teachers in this manner.”

Visitor’s Day was held on Tuesday morning July 17 and was a remarkable display of Breakthrough students and their teachers. Guests included City of San Juan Capistrano Mayor Pro-Tem John Taylor, local business leaders, St. Margaret’s families and staff. Visitors were amazed by the history of Breakthrough and commitment of St. Margaret’s in hosting this valuable program for the community. Guests were greeted by Breakthrough students and welcomed to a breakfast hosted by the Laguna chapter of the National Charity League. NCL also hosted parent’s night held on Monday, July 2 and provided daily assistance with the program’s breakfast and lunch meal program. Breakthrough T-shirts were also sponsored by NCL and designed by one of Breakthrough’s students.

Click here to view the San Juan Capistrano Patch article covering Visitor’s Day and the Breakthrough SJC program.

In the middle of the Breakthrough summer program, it transitioned leadership of program directors from Maggie Griffiths to Lorena Martinez. Both have served as teachers in the highly selective program Teach for America after serving as Breakthrough SJC intern-teachers during different summers. “Each brought a depth of knowledge to the structure of Breakthrough specific curriculum and instruction. Our teachers learned from their guidance and experience. We welcome back Lorena to Breakthrough SJC and to the Tartan community at St. Margaret’s,” said Jesus.

Jesus added, “Thank you every Upper School teacher who lent us their classroom. In particular Carol Ann Ingalls for allowing us to use much needed science materials for detailed laboratory instruction. To all volunteers this summer, your dedicated time and interest to help Breakthrough SJC was of high value with multiple assignments. Every supporter, donor and community partner make Breakthrough SJC a possibility for the students and families that treasure the existence of this program. Your contribution allows talented intern-teachers and motivated middle school students to participate in a life changing summer experience. On behalf of the 80 students this summer, 25 summer staff members and more than 150 Breakthrough SJC students since the inaugural 2006 program, thank you very much for helping in making learning fun and coveted year after year.”



Comments are closed.