Why Are These Harvard and Yale Students Headed to Summer School?

They hail from some ofthe most prestigious colleges across the country: Columbia, Cornell, Bryn Mawr, Harvard, Wesleyan, Yale, and more. And yet these 40 high-performing students are headed to summer school come June 27th.

They haven’t failed. Instead, they are helping younger students to avoid falling behind.

The college students were selected for an increasingly coveted internship with Breakthrough New York. Selected from among 650 applicants, they will be preparing 68 newly graduated 6th graders for middle school.

Under the program, the 68 head right back into the classroom the day after they leave 6th grade for six weeks of academic tutoring, mentoring and enrichment services.

“This is a highly charged, intensive environment,” says Rhea Wong, Breakthrough New York’s Executive Director. “These college students are an incredibly motivated group. We train them for two weeks so they are ready to step to the front of the class. It’s an exhilarating experience, one that changes the course of their lives.”


After finishing their internships at one of Breakthrough’s two program sites, The Town School on the Upper East Side, Manhattan and Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, many of the students career-correct: they decide teaching is for them: 75% percent of Teacher Interns eventually pursue careers in teaching.

Ones like Daniel Grimes, who is now with Teach for America and instructing students at a Williamsburg, Brooklyn charter school.

“My experience with Breakthrough was amazing, which was why I decided to pursue Teach for America. The relationship I built with the students is why I realized teaching was such a great career,” says Grimes, 22, of Manhattan. “This internship experience was incredibly valuable. You don’t realize how rewarding it is until you meet the students. They bring you so much joy, and it happened every single day I went to work. It’s unparalleled.”

The internships are highly sought: Last year, about 550 college students applied for these summer spots, which are consistently listed as Princeton Review Top Ten Internships, along with the White House, the Supreme Court and MTV.  This year, only one out of every 16 applicants won a spot.

The Teacher Interns start their training on June 11th. After training ends, for the next six weeks, they will focus on refining the middle schoolers’ mastery of skills in core curriculum subjects like math, science, writing and literature.

“More than ever, we are witnessing greater interest in our programming, not just from middle school students from across the city but from college students who value the rigorous training this internship provides – especially if they plan to pursue a career in teaching,” Ms. Wong said. “This flood of applications is testament to the desire to help students succeed.”

Teacher Interns are selected based on academic accomplishment, leadership experience and ability to learn teaching techniques as demonstrated during the interview process.

This year’s Teacher Interns hail from: Boston College; Brown University;  Bryn Mawr College; Bucknell University; Colby College; Cornell University; Columbia University; Dartmouth College; Duke University; Hamilton College; Hampton University; Harvard University; Haverford College; Macalester College; McGill University; Michigan University; Middlebury College; Morehouse College; Pomona College; Reed University; Spelman College; University of Albany; University of Cincinnati; University of North Carolina; University of Rochester; University of Texas; Wesleyan University; and, Yale University.