Every summer, Breakthrough welcomes a group of experienced educators from surrounding districts to serve as Instructional Coaches for our Summer AmeriCorps Teaching Fellows. While being mentors and role models for our teachers, they set the standard of classroom teaching in our program by playing a vital role in training and supporting our faculty, refining and developing the summer curriculum, and shaping Breakthrough’s learning environment for our middle school students. Quintina Gildon was a Breakthrough Summer Instructional Coach for 3 years, and is currently the Assistant Principal at Oak Meadows Elementary in Manor ISD.
When I initially began working with Breakthrough as an instructional coach, I thought my role would simply be one where I would teach young adults to be confident teachers for the summer. In reality, Breakthrough was much, much more. The most impactful breakthroughs I’ve experienced involved observing our Teaching Fellows grasp adulting with confidence, building a Breakthrough mindset amongst students and teachers alike, and creating timeless memories through our willingness to connect rather than reject our future.
Summer after summer, I’ve had the pleasure of working alongside young adults who wanted to make a difference or who were simply trying to figure their life’s path. During our lesson planning sessions we would often have conversations about our hopes, goals, dreams, and the multiple paths that could be used to conquer those things. To this day, it’s always rewarding to hear from or see them years later and find out that our discussions steered them away from pitfalls or helped them make better decisions towards their dreams and aspirations.
Another impactful joy that Breakthrough has brought into my life is anticipation of summer rituals. From demonstrating the importance of laughing together (team spirit is a real thing, just ask those who created rap names), to expressing the danger of a single story. It’s remarkable to hear the reflective comments from our teaching fellows on how we play a part in the way stories are told and how we can use this knowledge to empower others. On the flip side, when it comes down to the fun, creative, competitive side of BT, I must say that I live for our annual showdown! There’s something special about creating videos with the Manor Instructional Coach crew. Who knew we had so many hidden talents?! Each year we try and top our last performance to show our site in the brightest light possible. I believe it also inspires our teachers to do the same for their students when it’s their turn and gives them a sense of understanding that life has to have a balance.
Through the entire Breakthrough experience, I find myself returning each year because it gives me hope that our future does care about something bigger than themselves. Our Teaching Fellows demonstrate the willingness to tap into the middle school culture enough to meet them where they are and bring them up to where they need to be. Our Instructional Coaches demonstrate the willingness to tap into the young adult culture to meet them where they are and bring them up to where they need to be. And our Breakthrough staff establishes and supports all of these community building practices. Overall, everyone is reaching to pull someone up and push them beyond. If that is not impactful, then I’m not sure what you would call it. Thank you Breakthrough for refilling my cup every summer!
– Quintina Gildon (Ms. Q)