Welcome to our Fall Newsletter! We have lots of great news to share with you as we approach the end of the year: two students received one of the nation’s top scholarships; post-summer surveys showed positive feedback from students, parents and teachers; and our afterschool and high school programs are in full gear! Read more, and as the year comes to a close, please consider making a tax-deductible donation to Breakthrough Silicon Valley.
Breakthrough Students Receive Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship!
Two 8th grade Breakthrough students have been named recipients of one of the nation’s most prestigious scholarships – the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Young Scholar Award!
Isabella Berkley and Denisse Oceguera were two of only 50 students nationwide selected for the award, though more than a thousand were nominated. The Jack Kent Cooke scholarship is based on excellence in academic endeavors, extracurricular activities, a strong will to succeed, and financial need. The Young Scholars Program “provides one of the most personalized, generous scholarship experiences in the nation,” according to the Foundation. It provides financial support and guidance throughout high school for summer opportunities, music and art courses and other extra-curricular interests scholars may have.
Isabella said when she found out she won, she “was both happy and hyper” and after it sunk in for a few minutes the enormity of the award made her tear up. “I feel proud of myself for putting in all the hard work,” she said, “and very appreciative of the Breakthrough staff who supported me getting into this program.”
Rich Harris, III, Breakthrough’s Program Co-Director, said, “It’s almost unheard of for an individual program or school to have two scholars selected. The award confirms how amazing, talented and exceptional both Denisse and Isabella are.”
According to the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, “the program was founded on the idea that if you give high achieving students with financial need the guidance and resources necessary for them to excel during high school, college and beyond, their greatness will emerge”.
Breakthrough Silicon Valley has had a previous Jack Kent Cooke Young Scholar: Moises Alcaraz is currently a Junior at Bellarmine College Prep. Previous Young Scholars have attended some of the nation’s most selective colleges and universities including UC Berkeley, Williams and Yale University.
Congratulations to Isabella Berkeley and Dennisse Oceguera!
Our Program: Summer Session 2010
Outcomes From The Summer Session
Breakthrough Silicon Valley summers are intense six-week academic sessions where students are presented with challenging courses that range from Chemistry to Computer Programming. After a summer devoted to hours in the classroom and more hours hitting the books at home, the students end the summer more confident and academically motivated than ever before.
The 2010 summer according to students’ post surveys:
- 94% of students agree or strongly agree that BSV’s summer program has been a meaningful and positive experience
- 94% of students agree or strongly agree that BSV’s summer program helped them be prepared and more confident for the school year.
- 93% of students agree or strongly agree that the things they learned will help them be successful at school next year.
- 91% of students agree or strongly agree that BSV teachers had high expectations of them
Thanks to pre and post-summer surveys developed by Dr. Shirley Feldman, we have been able to analyze student attitudes and behaviors at Breakthrough compared to those at school. Overall, students at Breakthrough are more willing to follow rules, spend more time on homework, viewed their teachers as more supportive of learning and were more assertive in the classroom.
One parent remarked: “My son was really challenged in this program. He tried hard and really pushed himself. More than anything else, he has bought into the idea that being in this program will lead him to future success. He is not afraid of extra homework and he has dedicated himself in a way that is not usual for his age. This program has lit a torch in him!” Many parents agreed and were overwhelmingly pleased with their children’s attitudes towards education and motivation to succeed.
The summer according to the parents’ post surveys:
- 100% agreed that Breakthrough offered their child academic rigor and high expectations over the summer. (80% strongly agreed with this statement)
- 100% agreed Breakthrough positively impacted their child’s attitude toward learning and goals for attending college. (83% strongly agreed to this statement).
- 100% agreed that overall the Breakthrough summer was a positive and meaningful experience for their child. (85% strongly agreed).
The success of every Breakthrough student is a result of the incredible commitment made by parents, staff and the dedicated and hardworking high school and college-age teachers. By the end of the summer, these older students were deeply changed as well.
The summer according to teachers’ post survey:
- 58% said they are quite a bit or extremely interested in pursuing a career in teaching.
- 73% said their Mentor Teacher made sure what they taught and how it was taught was academically challenging.
- 65% said their Mentor Teacher offered them advice and experience in regards to pursuing a career in teaching.
While reflecting on their summer experience, a summer teacher declared, “After a summer teaching with BSV, I am dedicated to education more than I ever have been. For the first time, I feel capable of directly changing the course of events in a student’s life”.
The Expansion Of Breakthrough’s Afterschool and High School Programs
Breakthrough Silicon Valley has expanded the Afterschool Program and College Bound Program in order to provide BSV students with extra instruction and mentoring that can prepare them better for acceptance and success in competitive four-year colleges and universities. The math-based Afterschool Program has expanded from one site to three, at: Hoover Middle School, Castillero Middle School and Notre Dame High School.
The Math Institute prepares 7th and 8th grade students for Geometry by 9th grade or earlier. There are 70 students from ten middle schools, and the students are taught by 16 “Math Coaches” from Bellarmine College Prep, Notre Dame, Pioneer and Leland High Schools. All of the student-teachers have regular mentoring and training from Melanie Duffins, a full-time mathematics teacher at Notre Dame High School.
The Silicon Valley Community Foundation reports that despite many signs that point to the importance of Algebra, which often is used as an indicator of future academic success, an alarming number of students in the region do not successfully complete Algebra. Completing Algebra is the gateway to closing the achievement gap, so ultimately, the success of the Math Institute will be based on the number of students who move on to Geometry. Last year 80% of Breakthrough students moved on to Geometry; this year, our goal is for 85% to move on to Geometry.
“Without Breakthrough I would have never received the ‘Students Rising Above Scholarship’. Breakthrough encouraged me to apply and I am so happy I did… After school some days, I go to Breakthrough to get tutored in Math because that is my toughest subject. There are always tutors available to help. And, every Friday, I go to workshops run by Flex college that help me fill out the college common app and write my personal statements. Besides pushing us to apply for scholarships and help with the application process, Breakthrough will help with the financial aid packages and even help me decide which college is the best fit for me.”
- Estela Losano,
Breakthrough Silicon Valley Senior at Lincoln High School
Breakthrough Silicon Valley continues to follow its students into high school through the College Bound Program. College Bound’s mission is to make sure each student attends a top-tier four-year university. Breakthrough is grateful to recent grants from Applied Materials and Citibank for making this initiative possible. In addition, College Bound has established powerful partnerships with Kaplan, Cash for College and FLEX College Prep to provide college readiness services.
College Bound provides: monthly college readiness workshops, ACT Prep Courses, college fieldtrips (such as a recent southern California field trip), one-on-one meetings to discuss college choices, weekly drop-in counseling and grade-specific course advising to ensure that all BSV high school students remain on a college track. Some exciting upcoming activities in College Bound include a Personal Statement Workshop for juniors, financial aid workshops delivered by Cash for College and conferences to review college acceptances with each family.