Rwick Sarkar ’23.5

Breakthrough Greater Boston, Cambridge, MA

This summer, I worked as a teaching fellow with Breakthrough Greater Boston (BTGB), a nonprofit organization that works with students across the country through 24 regional affiliates. BTGB serves students in public schools in Somerville and Cambridge and a handful of charter schools in Boston. I worked at their site in Cambridge as an English teacher with rising eighth graders.

Rwick Sarkar before the program started.Breakthrough’s mission is twofold: to close educational achievement gaps and support underrepresented or historically marginalized students on their paths to college; and to build up the next generation of urban educators by recruiting college students to be teachers in their summer classrooms. I had the unique opportunity to be the lead teacher in my classroom, teaching two classes of 10-12 students, mentoring a group of five students, and co-leading an extracurricular club.

Working with Breakthrough has deepened my passion for social justice and made me think more deeply about inequities within the U.S. education system. Diving directly into the youth-centered work of teaching this summer enabled me—someone who as an environmental studies major often looks at the broader sociopolitical contexts surrounding issues of justice—to zoom in and really understand the perspective of the young people most impacted by larger scale policy decisions.

One of my projects this summer included helping plan and lead College Challenge Day, which was a Friday special event. Working with two other teaching fellows and a full-time staff member, I organized activities to expose students early on to various types of colleges, what college life can look like, how they might think about paying for college and generally garner interest in the prospect of going to college. I was so proud of my students for the questions they asked during College Challenge Day; and I was equally excited to present them with Williams T-shirts that the admissions office generously donated.

My summer as a teaching fellow at Breakthrough was a meaningful and intense experience. I learned how important community and strong relationships are to me in the workplace. While I am not sure middle school teaching is what I want to do long term, I am so glad I learned more about the education system and met such a great group of students and teaching fellows. I hope to read and learn more about our education system, curriculum development and innovative pedagogies even as I consider other professional paths. Working with young people is something I plan to return to in the future, whether as a classroom teacher or in another setting.

I am deeply grateful to the ’68 Center for Career Exploration and the Public Service Internship Program for enabling me to pursue such a meaningful experience.