Jourdan Elliott can attest to the value of peer-to-peer recruiting because she was recruited to be a Breakthrough Teaching Fellow through a text message from a friend.

“I feel like if it were anybody else, I probably wouldn’t have given it thought at all. But because she’s my friend, she looks like me, and she goes to my school, I thought, ‘Okay, I trust her. I know her’”.

From that peer connection, Jourdan spent two summers as a Teaching Fellow with Breakthrough Birmingham, teaching and mentoring Breakthrough’s middle school scholars to reduce summer learning loss. But between those summers, Jourdan has remained an active part of the Breakthrough team.

Teaching Fellows’ continued impact beyond summer

Breakthrough knows the impact on college-aged students – it’s why they are at the core of summer programming. Their perspective and energy are too valuable to be limited to three months out of the year-round programming, which is why former Teaching Fellows like Jourdan are paid to influence school-year programming. When you hear about our school year opportunity for scholars (clubs, tutoring, mentoring, Super Saturdays, and Culture Nights), know there are Teaching Fellows at every step.

Jourdan’s focus is recruiting the next round of Teaching Fellows, serving as our Recruiting Coordinator. In this role, she not only holds Zoom calls with interested potential Teaching Fellows and recruits at Samford (where she is a student), but she also manages a team of other Teaching Fellows in the recruiting they do at their respective schools.


Prioritizing more than just work outcomes

The work outcomes of teaching fellows are phenomenal, as one might expect with how great of people they are. However, the ultimate purpose of their continued Breakthrough involvement is their development as individuals and young professionals. While learning to balance work and school, Jourdan is also learning how to conduct presentations, set goals for her team, and report on progress in staff-wide team meetings – all in a work environment that prioritizes relationships, growth, and exposure.

“At Breakthrough, I’m working for such awesome people that don’t let me settle and always challenge me,” she says.

The benefits of professional development through Breakthrough aren’t limited to those wanting to be teachers after graduation. Jourdan is a great example of this, considering she plans on law school next year. Her dream job is to be a civil rights attorney with EJI or the NAACP.

“Being able to have my work experience be education-related experience and learning more about the issues in the educational system have really opened my eyes to what all I can do as a lawyer,” she shared. “I think Breakthrough opens up this door, that there are people who actually care about the education system and care about the needs and wants of our scholars.”

“I think before Breakthrough, I didn’t understand how to speak to people when it came to boundaries or something I wasn’t comfortable with or standing up for myself in the professional sense. I think Breakthrough taught me how to have crucial conversations. So now when I’m speaking to law schools, I feel more comfortable asking for what I need.”

The core of Breakthrough Birmingham’s work is our mission – to reverse education inequality. Having the capacity and resources to continue developing our Teaching Fellows throughout the year pushes all of Breakthrough toward the ultimate mission and creates pathways to Teaching Fellows’ success. Your year-round gift can go toward keeping college students like Jourdan engaged with our mission, paid fairly for their time, and continually encouraged into their next steps in life.

Click here to become a monthly donor.

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