Breakthrough of Greater Philadelphia is now part of Germantown Friends School

by Michelle Sonsino, GFS Director of Communications
Posted 12/1/21

While Breakthrough has been operating out of the GFS campus for 27 years, it is now an official part of the 175 year-old school.

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Breakthrough of Greater Philadelphia is now part of Germantown Friends School

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Breakthrough of Greater Philadelphia, an academic enrichment, mentorship, and high school preparation program for motivated middle schoolers from Philadelphia, is now a program of Germantown Friends School.

While Breakthrough has been operating out of the GFS campus for 27 years, it is now an official part of the 175 year-old school. While Breakthrough remains a separate non-profit, it is now part of the GFS curriculum and has access to the school’s innovation and expertise. Michelle Palmer, longtime administrator at GFS, has been named Executive Director.

“This partnership was designed with children and their educational and developmental needs at the forefront,'' said Dana Weeks, Head of School at GFS. “Together we will combine innovative instruction, relevant curriculum, and inspiring people to forge a lifelong love of learning for middle school students in our city. All children deserve educational opportunities that encourage each individual to embrace their talents and gifts, and we are thrilled to celebrate this important step towards that vision.”

The Breakthrough program is open to public, charter, and parochial school students and includes a comprehensive academic curriculum, an annual speaker series, and activities that allow students to embrace the joy in learning. Breakthrough also supports new teachers with opportunities to learn alongside seasoned educators through a “Students-Teaching-Students’’ model and mentorship from GFS faculty and staff.

Breakthrough provides more than academics. The program faculty, staff, fellows and volunteers offer a supportive educational community for participating students and families. Core subjects include math, science, writing, and literature and elective activities including dance, foreign language, photography, debate and more. Financial awareness, social justice, writing, public speaking and STEM are woven throughout the program.

Breakthrough offers two annual sessions, a six-week summer enrichment program for rising sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth graders and a bi-weekly Saturday program held throughout the academic year, which serves more than 100 students and 30 teaching fellows annually.

Palmer formerly served as the Director of the Breakthrough Program at GFS before being named Executive Director this year. In addition to Palmer’s 16 years of teaching experience, she serves as a certified facilitator for the Seeking Educational Equity and Diversity (SEED) staff-development project, and designed the GFS Alumni of Color program. She has presented on engaging diverse communities at the 2018 CASE Conference in Philadelphia, the 2019 MCRC ADVIS conference, the 2019 People of Color Conference in Seattle, and the 2020 New York State of Independent Schools Conference.

Palmer has a Master of Science in Education in Instructional Technology from Arcadia University, a Master of Science in Nonprofit Management from New School University and a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Temple University.

“We believe in the power of education to radically change young people’s lives, and we want to ensure that our students receive the enrichment and opportunities they deserve,” said Palmer. “This new relationship ensures that we can best serve deserving students.”

Learn more about Breakthrough at GFS at Germantownfriends.org/Breakthrough.

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