Students at Breakthrough Magnet North Care Beyond Themselves though Service Learning Projects

Spotlight on Excellence     April, 2013

Building Character One B.R.I.C.K at a Time:  Students at Breakthrough Magnet North Care Beyond Themselves though Service Learning Projects

Breakthrough Magnet North, is a PK-6 school located in Hartford, CT. Breakthrough Magnet North is dedicated to bringing staff, families and community members of diverse backgrounds together to develop students as models of outstanding character. The overall theme of Breakthrough Magnet North is “Building character one B.R.I.C.K at a time.” B.R.I.C.K is the acronym that students follow to develop positive character (B-breakdowns to breakthroughs, R-responsibility, I-integrity, C-contribution, K-knowledge).  Character education permeates the curriculum and students learn to become outstanding citizens. The students at Breakthrough Magnet North, in conjunction with the Spanish teacher Ms. Aubrey, have launched a campaign to raise money to help expand a rural school in Guatemala.

As part of the character education theme at Breakthrough Magnet North, students are encouraged and empowered to care beyond themselves by identifying ways that they can help others in their school, home, and community. Interest in supporting education in Guatemala arose last spring, when second and third graders, after listening to a story about the life of a Mayan child in Guatemala, began asking questions about poverty and why more children weren’t in school. This discussion prompted the students to organize a drive to collect school materials to donate to a rural school in Guatemala. Breakthrough North’s Spanish teacher brought the materials to the Milagros School last July. This newly built school is nestled in a remote community, accessible only by footpaths. Many of the children had never been to school before – including a fourteen year old boy who was in first grade – because there wasn’t a school close enough to them. The word “Milagros” means “miracles” in Spanish; as its name implies, the Milagros School brings the miracle of education to students who would not otherwise have it.

The Milagros School, Guatemala
The students at Breakthrough North were inspired to launch a campaign to continue to support the Milagros School, which currently only has space for a kindergarten and first grade classroom. Boxes for collecting spare change were placed in all of the classrooms, and student art was sold during parent-teacher conferences. In addition to making a contribution to their community, students develop math skills by counting the money and tracking progress towards goal.
When we started this community service learning project our goal was $500.00. With the support of our Breakthrough North community we have exceeded our goal and raised $1200.00 thus far. We will continue to collect donations and are planning to have an art show sale in conjunction with our Show our Stuff event on May 24, 2013. This event hosts performances from each class that showcase our vision of creating a “global world for students of outstanding character!”

Students at Breakthrough Magnet North will continue to develop their character skills and embody the philosophy of caring beyond themselves through service learning projects. “It is the air we breathe,” says the staff at Breakthrough North. Helping others to be successful and bringing our community together is what motivates our learning and allows us to develop the whole child.

The school will be hosting its "Show our Stuff" event which is a huge celebration of the theme– a global school for students of character– on May 24th. The students at all grade levels will be performing and they will be conducting an art sale in relation to the Milagros service learning project. The students also meet on Wednesdays during their enrichment time to count the money for Milagros and plan additional fund raisers/shoe drives.

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