St. Margaret’s Episcopal School welcomed nearly 100 educational leaders from around the nation for the Breakthrough Collaborative National Conference, which took place on campus over two days earlier this month.
Breakthrough Collaborative is a national non-profit program dedicated to creating educational opportunities for middle and high school students, whose backgrounds are traditionally underrepresented in higher education, on their path to college. In its work, Breakthrough Collaborative also serves as the country’s largest pre-professional teacher training program. In 2006, St. Margaret’s founded and since has served as the lead sponsor of Breakthrough SJC, which is one of 24 Breakthrough sites across America and serves more than 300 local young people on their path to and through college graduation.
The conference brought site leaders and the national staff together in-person for the first time in over three years to engage in professional development centered on educational equity and their shared mission.
The collaborative’s Chief Program Officer Alex Serna, who previously served as Breakthrough SJC’s executive director said, "Breakthrough's National Conference brings affiliate staff from around the country to convene around a shared vision where educational equity and access to excellent opportunities propels aspiring students on their path to college and aspiring teachers on their path to the classroom.
“With the effects of the pandemic continuing to impact students and teachers, it's more important than ever to have a space for our educators to come together and learn from one another, to build community and plan for the ways they will meet the evolving needs of students and teaching fellows. It takes an entire community to realize this vision, and we're grateful for St. Margaret's and Breakthrough SJC in making this first in-person conference possible in more than two years. Together, we are making a difference in the lives of thousands of Breakthrough students around the country."
Breakthrough SJC’s entire staff participated in the conference as well, including Executive Director Elizabeth Eusebio, Assistant Director of Middle & Early High School Tania Solano Cervantes, and Assistant Director of College Access and Completion George Mailat.
“It was very inspiring and energizing to be in a space together with other educators who do similar work and are working toward the same mission. It allowed us to network, collaborate, brainstorm, and to share experiences and ideas, especially through the broader lens of the national perspective,” said Ms. Eusebio.
“We are a small and mighty team here in San Juan Capistrano,” she added. “It was a powerful and rewarding reminder to be sitting and working side-by-side with so many other outstanding educators who are doing the same work in their part of the country. It was also incredibly validating for our team to see the larger and collective impact of our local efforts and successes.
“We are grateful to our many St. Margaret’s colleagues from academics and technology to advancement, security and buildings and grounds, who worked to accommodate this conference during the school year, and please know it was tremendously valuable to the mission of the program and will be felt in the lives of our students.”
Director of Equity and Inclusion Victor Cota who oversees St. Margaret’s role in Breakthrough added, “Nearly 20 years ago, the St. Margaret’s community saw an authentic need in our local community to support local students on a path to college through educational enrichment. This led us to start a Breakthrough program right here, and nurturing and supporting the Collaborative in any way we can, like hosting these educators to advance their work, contributes to our purpose in SJC, and our ethos of service, community, equity and inclusion.”
The 24 Breakthrough Collaborate sites are located in Atlanta, Austin, Birmingham, Boston, Cincinnati, Denver, Fort Worth, Houston, Manchester, Miami, New Orleans, New York, Norfolk, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Providence, Sacramento, Santa Fe, San Juan Capistrano, San Francisco, Silicon Valley and the Twin Cities.