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October, 2014 
Breakthrough Manchester is an incubator of excellence in teaching, learning and leadership, driven by a mission of educational equity.
Changes at Breakthrough Manchester

Staff Changes 
After many years of enviable stability, the staff at Breakthrough Manchester has turned over during the past several months.  The Breakthrough community said a fond farewell to Kate Erskine, Bernadette Robinson and Tina White who led the program with competence, determination, patience and love over the past decade and more.  They each left an indelible mark on Breakthrough programming, students and teachers over the course of many years, and they will be missed.

Becky Berk stepped in as Executive Director in March 2014 and Meredith Zackey joined as Breakthrough's Program Director in mid-September.  (Learn more about Becky and Meredith.)  

Becky and Meredith, along with the newly organized Breakthrough  Advisory Committee, will lead the program through a series of transitions and shifts, some of which have already been set in motion (see below).  A Task Force convened by the Derryfield School last winter reviewed program operations and made a series of recommendations based on efficiency and sustainability, with an eye toward future growth in the number of students served.  

What will not change is the focus on serving two populations of young people at once: launching middle school students on the path to college while inspiring talented college students to pursue careers in education.

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Pipelines and Pathways
Breakthrough Manchester is a critical link in the PATHWAY for bright, limited opportunity students, and a PIPELINE for the development of the next generation of excellent teachers.  

Connect with us, so that we can better connect these pathways and pipelines for students!

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Program Changes at Breakthrough
Two major shifts in the Breakthrough program will be phased in over the upcoming months and years to better position Breakthrough as a critical link for promising middle school students in the Manchester school district.

Program shift 1: Breakthrough will recruit its new incoming class from the sixth grade, rather than the fifth grade, and three summers will be required.  In the past, Breakthrough Manchester has recruited students in 5th grade to participate in two required summer sessions as rising 6th and rising 7th graders, with an optional third summer as rising 8th graders.  Beginning January 2015, the program will recruit students in 6th grade with the expectation that three summers will be required as rising 7th, 8th and 9th graders.  This means that Breakthrough will be recruiting from 4 middle schools rather than 14 elementary schools, and the program will bridge the all-important transition to high school, including advocacy for, and the selection of, college-bound coursework for students.


Program shift 2: Breakthrough will be a three-year program, with an option to stay involved in high school or connect with other college-bound programming. For the past several years, Breakthrough Manchester has required students in fifth grade and their families to commit themselves to Breakthrough for seven years.  While many students and families wish to stay involved for this length of time, others begin to disengage with Breakthrough as other extracurricular opportunities and  obligations begin to compete for time in high school.  Beginning this year, Breakthrough high school students will be provided with several options to stay on track with college-bound programming such as Upward Bound, UNH's Education Talent Search, St. Anselm College's Access Academy, and others.  Continued involvement with Breakthrough, including support from Derryfield's College Counseling office, will be one of those options.  Participation will be voluntary, not required, and Breakthrough will facilitate the successful transition of these students to their chosen option.  

BTMAdvisoryBreakthrough Establishes an Advisory Committee
Breakthrough Manchester has gathered an Advisory Committee of diverse stakeholders to guide, promote, connect and support Breakthrough's dual mission and programming with the broader community.   Advisory Committee members cultivate effective relationships with stakeholder groups, maintain a singular focus on the program's mission and serve as Breakthrough ambassadors to the education, business, philanthropic and client communities.  Read the full Advisory Committee member job description

2014-2015 Advisory Committee members:
Christine Cikacz
Nigel Donovan
Jane Gardner
Bill and Kathy Gillett
Mary Heath
Marcus Hurlbut
Joan Izen
Alicia Parker
Reina Reidy
Jonathan Ross
Summer 2014 Recap
Fifty four middle school students spent six weeks at Breakthrough Manchester on the Derryfield School's beautiful campus, completing summer-long classes in Math, Writing, Literature and Science or Leadership. On average, they completed 56 hours of homework, participated in 1500 spirit cheers, took two extracurricular classes in topics such as lacrosse, life drawing, Spanish and acting, and enjoyed fabulous weather for our special event days: Spirit Day, Olympics, the STAR hike and our annual trip to Boston. Find out how Manchester sixth graders can apply to Breakthrough.

Twenty talented college and high school students received training and support in lesson planning, classroom management and student advising this summer, developing into effective teachers under  the guidance, direction and encouragement of our four professional Instructional Coaches.  Often at Breakthrough from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm, Teaching Fellows provided 92 hours of academic instruction and played multiple roles in leading activities, coordinating events, communicating with parents and developing close rapport with students. About the Summer Teaching Residency

The Business Case for Breakthrough Manchester
The development of talented human capital is an essential business concern. Breakthrough Manchester takes the long view on this issue, recognizing that college and career readiness that begins in high school is often too late. 

We specialize in discovering latent talent and a strong work ethic among Manchester's sixth graders, many of them from families with limited means, new to the country or the first in their family to aspire to college.  We develop that talent, boost confidence and prepare students to enroll and succeed in rigorous high school coursework by providing three tuition-free, academically challenging summers in a high-energy and positive environment.  Breakthrough provides an essential middle bridge as these students transition from elementary school and then into high school.  

We also specialize in developing talented college students (and some high achieving high school students, too) as excellent teachers by providing the type of intensive, practical training in teaching rarely offered to those who are considering or just beginning their studies in education.  Based on Doug Lemov's landmark Teach Like a Champion, culled from years of observing the techniques of highly effective teachers, Breakthrough Instructional Training and intensive mentoring is designed to help teachers learn about, observe and practice essential planning and classroom skills.  

Breakthrough's Results

Typical Breakthrough Students
  • 90-100% will be first in their family to attend college
  • 65-75% are eligible for free or reduced lunch at school
  • 60-70% are students of color
  • 40-50% speak a language other than English at home

Parental Satisfaction
  • 100% feel welcomed and respected at Breakthrough
  • 100% feel that Breakthrough honors their child's cultural heritage/background
  • 100% believe their child has benefited from his/her involvement with Breakthrough
  • 100% believe that their child is challenged and encouraged to do his/her best 
  • 99% believe that their child's self-confidence has increased because of his/her involvement with Breakthrough
  • 100% are satisfied with their family's overall experience with Breakthrough 
  • 100% would recommend Breakthrough to their family and friends

Where Students End Up
  • Bates College (ME)
  • College of the Holy Cross (MA)
  • Connecticut College (CT)
  • Harvard University (MA)
  • Keene State College (NH)
  • Manchester Community College (NH)
  • New Hampshire Institute of Art (NH)
  • New Hampshire Technical Institute (NH)
  • New York Conservatory for Performing Arts (NY)
  • Oxford College at Emory University (GA)
  • Pomona College (CA)
  • Simmons College (MA)
  • St. Anselm College (NH)
  • University of La Verne (CA)
  • University of New Hampshire (NH)
  • Wellesley College (MA)
and many others......

Where Teachers End Up
75-85% of Breakthrough teachers go on to a career in education, many with a focus on educational equity
  • Public schools
  • Boston Teacher Residency
  • Teach for America
  • MATCH Teacher Education
  • Urban Teacher Center
and many others......

With thanks,

Becky Berk
Executive Director
Breakthrough Manchester
Breakthrough Manchester
2108 River Road
Manchester, NH  03104
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