Internship Spotlight: Breakthrough SF

Current Tufts student Noah Caesar-Kim shared the following about being a Summer Intern at Breakthrough SF  

What did you do as an intern at this organization?
I spent the past summer participating in Breakthrough SF’s teaching fellowship program, a selective opportunity to enhance my teaching skills and support an inspiring group of young learners. Throughout my fellowship I worked as a lead English teacher for two classes of 7th grade students, while constantly tuning my curriculum and pedagogy under the advise of my faculty mentor. I also worked as an advisor for six students, which allowed me the opportunity to connect with everyone on a more profound basis, something that was challenging and often impossible through virtual learning.

How did you find this internship?
My current education major advisor, Steve Cohen, taught a phenomenal class called “School and Society” that I was able to take freshman year. Part of the class involved a regular rotation of guest speakers, and it was through a representative from Breakthrough Cambridge that I was able to learn about the organization. I ultimately reached out to several friends with similar interests to mine and heard excellent things about the program. Eventually I decided to return home for the summer and get involved with their San Francisco program, and I was fortunate to be able to teach some magnificent students from my hometown.

What did you enjoy most about your internship?
It’s hard to spend a summer engaging so thoughtfully with a group of students and not feel moved by their hard work. Breakthrough attracts a lot of student applicants, and unfortunately the process is rigorous and demands a lot from both the students and their families; however, this means that it was constantly apparent how badly my students wanted to be there. They truly enjoyed learning, and putting effort into their education. To say they were inspiring is an understatement. My favorite moment from the summer was the presentation of their final projects, which were murals about social justice issues of their choice. In the middle of a challenging summer fraught with COVID, social turmoil, and long virtual school days, my students produced some of the most amazing work that I’ve ever seen from kids of their age, and I am so proud of what they achieved.

What did you find challenging?
Virtual school is hard, and I learned to the fullest extent what that means from the perspective of an educator. Staring at boxes on a screen for an entire day is emotionally exhausting, and doesn’t deliver the same gratification that in-person learning does. The screen is yet another barrier that makes interacting with students so challenging, and that meant lots of extra effort on my end as a teacher.

What advice would you offer to someone who wants to make the most of an internship like yours?
Ask questions, and be willing to learn and grow! I really capitalized on the expertise of my veteran faculty mentor, whose feedback allowed me to improve my teaching by multitudes. Apart from her, I also constantly relied on advice from my co-teacher and other faculty members involved with the program. Everyone has some great insight to offer, regardless of age, experience or identity.

About the Organization

Breakthrough SF

At Breakthrough, we believe all young people should have access to an excellent education, a clear pathway to college, and highly effective teachers committed to their success. In pursuit of this vision, we provide intensive, year-round academic enrichment and support to motivated 5-12th graders with limited educational opportunities, helping them attend college.

By Sheryl Rosenberg
Sheryl Rosenberg Associate Director