Students/Families -- Apply for Summer 2021 programming by CLICKING HERE

About Us


Breakthrough Birmingham is currently seeking volunteers to assist in several events both long and short including speaking events, long term mentorships and even management opportunities. The ideal volunteer is energetic and has a passion for working with children.

However, Breakthrough is incredibly interested in recruiting individuals seeking careers in the field of education and individuals with background similar to those of the children we educate today.

We hope to turn what once were our students into volunteers working to better another students life and then turn again into working professionals in a reformed community.

Volunteer Directors

The Volunteer Director reports directly to the Executive Director and is responsible for managing and implementing volunteer-related objectives, organizing and communicating with volunteers, and assist with Event Planning that involves volunteers. These activities serve and support middle-school students from all Birmingham City schools middle and K-8 schools, with 100% of students qualifying for free or reduced lunch, and many are the first generation in their families to go to college.

The Volunteer Director is responsible for: 

  • Matching Volunteers with opportunities that suit their skill sets and serve the organization
  • Ensuring volunteers are appreciated and satisfied by maintaining a healthy work environment
  • Recruiting, interviewing, training and managing BTB volunteers
  • And giving constructive feedback when appropriate

This is a 15 week internship that is perfect for outgoing, budding managers with a passion for leading a team of volunteers and educators.

Learn more at the apply here button or click login if you are already on our volunteer direction team.

Teaching Fellows

Breakthrough’s success rests on our unique “students-teaching-students” model. Ambitious and service-minded undergraduate students from all over the country serve as teachers and mentors to our middle/early high school students during our year round programs.

Who do we look for?

In order to provide the high-quality relationship building and learning that our children deserve, Breakthrough Birmingham’s Teaching Fellow positions are highly selective and competitive. We are constantly seeking talented college students who think creatively, demonstrate a willingness to learn and grow, believe that every child can learn at a high level, and persevere in the face of challenges. Applicants should feel comfortable working in a collaborative, fast-paced environment.

The fellowship is for undergraduates of any major, whether they intend to pursue a career in education or not. We seek applicants with a deep interest in social justice and a love of working with students. Applicants from varied backgrounds and experiences are important essential for the success of our program.

What do Teaching Fellows do?

Teaching Fellows have the primary contact with Breakthrough students during programs and are therefore pivotal in our students’ Breakthrough experience. We recruit the most talented and dedicated college students in the US to come to Birmingham and serve our community. In order to create a meaningful teaching experience, our Teaching Fellows are coached by veteran educators, trained and oriented in both culture building, instructional techniques, and behavior management prior to teaching. Then, they are given continuous reflection opportunities and ongoing feedback in order to improve leadership and teaching skills.

What do Teaching Fellows gain?

Our undergraduate Teaching Fellows complete the fellowship as leaders who are better prepared to make a difference. They develop skills as pre-service teachers, role models, and educational leaders and advocates. Fellows become part of an effective team working to address the most pressing issues in education. Not only do they have the opportunity to make a lasting impact on middle school children, but they also gain hands-on leadership and educational training. Breakthrough fellows explore and work to address social issues and together learn what is means to be a community of diverse individuals working toward common goals. During the nine-week residency, Breakthrough Teaching Fellows receive over 100 hours of teaching and leadership training, and 75 hours of lead classroom experience. Teaching Fellows have the opportunity to practice skills that prepare them for the classroom or other professional settings.


Breakthrough is life changing. If you’re ready to be completely shaken up, stirred around and transformed this is the place to do it. It will challenge you on so many fronts, expand your mind & shape who you become. You will meet some of the coolest kids and have a hand in helping them reach their full potential. They’re going to rule the world one day – help them unlock what they were born to do.

2016 Teaching Fellow


With Breakthrough, students are given the resources, small classroom sizes, a dynamic curriculum, and strong teacher-student relationships, to make up for school-year challenges. With the Breakthrough experience overall, the students build the ability to take ownership of their education, which helps them to self-advocate and self-motivate when in school. From making progress in education and building life skills, Breakthrough ultimately fills the opportunity and resource gap that is a reality for many of [our] students.

Summer 2019/School Year 2020 Fellow


Mariohn Michel | Executive Director

Mariohn joined Breakthrough Birmingham in 2018 after working in urban and rural education spaces. She spent four years at a NYC school where she has been a data analyst, testing/program coordinator, social studies department chair, and teacher. Dissecting the story assessment data told was a stepping stone for her to find creative solutions to classroom differentiation, curriculum design and execution, and programming efficacy. Prior to that, she was a 2011 Teach for America corps member where she spent three years as a high school social studies teacher in rural Alabama, which fostered her love of the state and its unique culture. Mariohn graduated magna cum laude from Florida International University with a B.S. in Secondary Social Studies Education. She currently serves on the Teach for America Alabama Alumni Board. In her free time, she can be found hiking, reading, and traveling.

Liora Chessin | Program Director

Prior to joining the Breakthrough team, Liora Chessin worked in both public and private schools as well as the nonprofit sector. Liora started her career in education in rural North Carolina as a part of Teach For America. Liora taught 12th grade English and started the school’s first Advancement Placement English Literature course. Liora most recently taught middle school English and history in a Birmingham-area school where she organized a Professional Learning Community for the faculty and created the student-run Leadership Through Library program. Liora also worked as the school’s Director of Admissions and Communications building relationships with stakeholders and families. Liora has managed a state-wide college access program, worked in various marketing positions, and designed diverse curricula including middle school humanities and social justice education. Liora also recently finished her Masters in Education from Brandeis University in Massachusetts with a speciality in Teacher Leadership. Liora has a B.A. in English from the Ohio State University’s Honor College where she graduated summa cum laude. 

Breakthrough Collaborative

180 Grand Ave #1225, Oakland, CA 94612, USA