Molly Lynch: Recipient of Breakthrough New York’s Teaching Excellence Award

Molly Lynch, second from the left

Molly Lynch, second from the left

An undergraduate at Yale University and an alumna of Choate Rosemary Hall, Molly

Lynch spent her second summer in a row as one of our stellar Teaching Fellows

(working out of our site in Manhattan). This summer, she was the proud recipient of our

Teaching Excellence Award. At our ceremony as the summer session concluded, she

delivered a moving tribute that we wanted to share with you.


When I was a little girl, riding in the back seat of the car, my mom would ask me, “Do 

you know how much I love you?” When I was four or five, I would answer by spreading 

my arms really wide and saying it was a lot. By the time I was a sixth grade, I had heard 

her ask me this question so much that it’s power faded from my ears. I would say, “A 

lot!” or “I know!” I always wondered why she didn’t just say it to me “I love you.” Why did 

she make me guess how much? I think after this summer, I finally understand why. I 

think my mom was trying to tell me that she didn’t just loved me a standard amount, but 

that she loved me a tremendous, unfathomable, enormous, bigger-than-any-guess 

amount. I understand this now because I met all of you. When I thought of speaking to 

you, I just wanted to ask you, “Do you know how much I love you?”


I love the way Jacob gets up to dance at almost every cheer. I adore the way Garland 

pulls his hair when he’s thinking hard. My heart is warmer when Nizelis smiles at me 

from across the cafeteria, and I am awed by the way Hillary helps keep her friends on 

point in class by tapping their desks. I glow when Cesar starts a game of quiet Wah with 

his friends before tennis. I love watching Sadiyah share her insights during turn and 

talks. And, I am just floored when Paul bravely takes on the one-minute word challenge.


I have had the true privilege of watching you do wonderful things all summer. In big 

moments, but also in tiny seconds, you have shown your genuine caring and protection 

for each other and our community. Juliette gave her friends advice. Brenda helped me 

climb up the play structure on the roof when I was scared. Rakin taught us all about 

compound sentences by making a video game. Christopher and Madeline spent all 

lunch laughing. Mudrakat, Tatyanah, and Antonayah said “wooh” at each backhand they 

hit in tennis, and Henderson encouraged us as we all climbed the five flights of stairs to 

get to block A.


Sometimes, there aren’t enough moments in the day for me to tell you how much I care 

for you and how happy you make me. And when the day is done but I’m still bursting 

with pride, I go home, and I tell my family and friends all of the wonderful things you do. I 

tell them about the beautiful courage I saw when Aleyssa stepped on stage at Open Mic 

and told us who she was. And I tell them about Enrista’s incredible expository essay 

about how the Bronx has made her. I tell them that Chi- Chi promised to call me this fall, 

and maybe visit my high school, and I say to them, jumping out of my seat, how excited I 

would be to get that call. I once realized just how much I was talking about the kids when 

my best friend texted me in the middle of the day and asked “How’s Harumi?” And, I 

responded, in all caps, “Oh my gosh, she’s amazing. She is so sweet.”


I tell you all this because I think it will be important to you. Knowing you are loved – 

knowing you are seen – will be important to you when you face new challenges. As you 

may know, last summer, I taught ninth grade math at the Breakthrough Manhattan site. 

The Breakthrough community inspired me. When I left, I was different from when I 

started. When I returned to college, I thought back on all the magnificent people I now 

had by my side. I remembered those people whenever I had to do something that was 

hard. For me, one of the hardest things I have done was run the Boston Marathon. In 

those winter months, when I was running 15 miles on icy roads, my heart warmed, and 

my pace quickened when I thought of my Breakthrough friends. I would try to name 

everyone in family 6, or I would sing the cheers in my head; “Work hard, aim high,” I 

would whisper in between breaths. The day of the marathon was cold, rainy and windy, 

but the streets were still lined with spectators. When I had to climb a steep hill, when my 

legs wore down, when my mind felt blank, and my belly cramped, I imagined my student, 

Emmanuel, was waiting for me right at the top, or I told myself Spencer was cheering me 

on. I focused on specific memories; I was overwhelmed with the distractions, and I 

pushed through. 


In your lives, but also just during your years in Breakthrough, you will do things that push 

you incredibly hard. You will have moments where you will need strength to keep 

fighting. Find strength from the Breakthrough class of 2025. Think of Rustom’s energy 

on when he’s playing on the roof before breakfast, or remember how Kingsley gave you 

a high five after your turn at ruler of the court in tennis. Lean on Ijah, who patiently 

shares his best self with you during turn and talks. Have courage like Jessica when she 

performed in Open Mic with the drama elective, and support your teammates like 

Denyce did when she was on your battleship team.


On Wednesday, I left school at the same time as Francis and Chi- Chi. We walked a few 

blocks together, and Francis told me about how he was moving to a new house, with a 

bigger back yard, so he is going to get a dog soon. He said next week he’s going to pick 

him out. When I turned left and Francis and Chi- Chi continued on to catch the 6 train, I 

was beaming. I felt so lucky to get to know that about Francis, and I wished I could have 

walked and talked with them about dogs all afternoon. I went home and I went running. 

My energy was high. I bounded through crosswalks, and burst into the park. I smiled and 

listened to beautiful, light songs. But soon, I hit a hill. I reached for a memory to keep me 

going. But this time, I wasn’t just remembering Emmanuel or Sulainy or Oge. This time, I 

couldn’t help but think of Dejanae, and how she made me laugh when she listed off all of 

the foods she dislikes. And, I couldn’t help thinking of Gislediy, and how comfortable I 

felt running laps in tennis next to her. I remembered her pigtails flipping in the air and her 

cheering everyone else on as they finished up.


Thank you for filling my heart and head with beautiful memories. I will think of each and 

every one of you when I run up big hills. I will miss you dearly, but I’ll be comforted to 

know that you’re with your BT Bronx friends, and that you are loved and you are seen. I 

am forever proud of everything you have done, and everything you will do. Do you know 

how much I love you? I don’t just love you a standard amount, but I love you a 

tremendous, unfathomable, enormous, bigger-than-any-guess, amount.

Molly Lynch, second from the left 

Molly Lynch, second from the left