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Scots Shine Volunteering for Breakthrough Miami’s Inaugural Summer

Saint Andrew's Breakthrough Miami volunteers

Saint Andrew's School welcomed the first cohort of 70 Breakthrough Miami Collaborative scholars this summer. 

The Breakthrough Miami Collaborative is a partnership between Breakthrough Miami and Saint Andrew's School that aims to provide high-quality academic and enrichment opportunities to traditionally underrepresented students in Palm Beach and Northern Broward Counties. Saint Andrew’s School previously hosted a Breakthrough site on its campus from 1996-2010, when the program was called “Summerbridge.”

For six weeks, rising grade 5 and 6 students spent their weekdays taking academic, extracurricular, and athletic classes taught by teaching fellows and volunteers, including 18 Saint Andrew's students.

Cece Spencer, Breakthrough Miami site director at Saint Andrew's, became fascinated with Breakthrough Miami while she was a teacher at Ransom Everglades. "I had these (Breakthrough Miami) scholars in my classes, and I had no idea, and I thought, 'these are some amazing kids.'" Her passion for helping under-served communities have access to resources led her to join Breakthrough Miami full-time.

When she joined the team over a year ago, Breakthrough Miami was looking to branch out of Broward and Dade counties. While they were searching for a site in Palm Beach County, Saint Andrew's happened to reach out about a partnership. It was perfect timing. Saint Andrew's and Breakthrough Miami worked together to ensure that the Breakthrough scholars had enough teaching fellows and volunteers to work the six-week-long Summer Institute.

Hannah Anglemyer and Lea Franiuk, grade 10 students at Saint Andrew’s School, were two of the 18 Saint Andrew’s students to take part as volunteers during the inaugural summer. Both Anglemyer and Franiuk had heard about the service learning opportunity during an assembly. If you ask Franiuk now about her experience, she gets a big smile on her face and is more than happy to tell anyone who will listen what an amazing experience it was to be part of Breakthrough Miami. 

As a volunteer, Franiuk helped in many ways and even had the chance to teach grade 5 English independently when a teaching fellow had to go out of town. "I feel like I accomplished something because they (Breakthrough Miami scholars) learned stuff from me that I taught them. I'm like, 'Wow, I did that!' It feels absolutely amazing that I could do that for them."

Anglemyer liked spending the summer volunteering with Breakthrough Miami because she values education. She also enjoyed being part of something bigger in her community. She was a teaching assistant for grade 6 math and helped with extra administrative duties. One moment that resonated with her happened during the poetry elective.

"One thing for me was the connection to Saint Andrew's. I remember in the poetry elective, we had a student reading the honor code because it was on the classroom wall as he was writing his poem, and then he started incorporating 'Honor Above All' into the poem. And so for me, I've been here since kindergarten; Saint Andrew's is such a big part of my life, so to be able to share this with other people, with other kids, because this has become, in a way, a second home for me. So to be able to share my home with new people and faces, that was a really great experience."

For both volunteers, working with Spencer was a great experience. "She's a great human being... she's always interacting with the kids and making it super exciting. She's just been an amazing person," stated Franiuk. Anglemyer noted that Spencer was encouraging and empowered her to take on more leadership roles and have more confidence.

Anglemyer and Franiuk look forward to continuing to work with Spencer and the Breakthrough Miami scholars as they return to campus for special Saturday classes throughout the school year. Spencer says that the Saturday classes will allow the volunteers to showcase their leadership skills as they teach the scholars new skills through academic elective courses they create. Some academic electives over the summer included Extreme Speech and Debate, Breaking It Down, Sports History, and Dancing Til Dawn. 

"What the Saint Andrew's community volunteers brought to Breakthrough was a special touch. The scholars truly understood that Saint Andrew's supports them being here as guests in the community...they made the summer very special for them," said Spencer.

The partnership between Breakthrough Miami and Saint Andrew's School is part of the school’s strategic plan efforts. For more information about Breakthrough Miami, visit www.breakthroughmiami.org.

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