Summer Program Updates 2020

The information on this page will be updated approximately every two weeks leading up to the start of our Summer Program. Please direct any questions to the following people:

Student/Family Questions: Pa Kou Lee (

Teaching Fellow Questions: Rachel Banen (

Program Intern Questions: Andrea Hite (

Instructional/Curriculum Questions: Daniel Bernal (

Translated Versions:


During this unprecedented health crisis, our top priority at Breakthrough Twin Cities (BTC) is continuing to provide support for students, families, and teaching fellows in safe and timely ways. BTC has operated during the past 15 summers without interruption, and we still have a strong desire to help students find a supportive community, engage in academic enrichment, and learn about opportunities for college and career success.

The latest models for the spread of COVID-19 in Minnesota indicate that we will likely not be completely done with social distancing measures for several months, and until treatment or preventative measures are put in place, this timeline continues to be extended. In order for us to provide safe programming, we need to consider what our summer could look like without in-person programming.

As we examine these possibilities, we wanted to transparently build a plan for students, families, and teaching fellows to have in front of them in order to communicate effectively and solicit feedback. We have not done this level of remote or virtual programming before, and we want to make sure that what we’re planning would meet everyone’s needs as best as we can.


How can students, families, faculty, & staff provide feedback?


There are several ways we want to provide opportunities for feedback. Feel free to reach out to us directly at any time! We will also be scheduling focus groups to be able to share your thoughts in discussion and ask questions in real-time. Finally, we have a link for feedback on a Google Form that we’d love for you to provide feedback on!

Feedback Form:

How is BTC approaching planning a virtual program?

Students and teachers around the globe are practicing new forms of online or distance learning, a practice which has been in place for more than a decade. Today’s students and educators are learning from those practices and will have a lot to share with us if we need to run our programming virtually this summer.

Some of the recommendations around structuring virtual learning are:

  • Shorten the time students are expected to engage directly with a teacher or peers (too much screen time can be taxing on students physically and mentally, and doesn’t lead to the same learning outcomes or engagement)
  • Ask students to engage with material in multiple online forms (videos, interactive websites, learning platforms, educational games)
  • Infuse more student choice in meeting learning outcomes (use materials they have available at home, let students have choice in the structure of their day)
  • Expect students to need different schedules (factors that impact a student’s learning environment in this setting: access to technology, needing to share technology, family responsibilities or meal schedules)


Virtual Programming Plan

Last Updated 05/19/2020


Student Programming & Support

  1. Schedule
    • Students will participate in a shortened summer program for 5 weeks (Monday through Friday) from June 29 through July 31.
    • Students will begin each day with a “Morning Meeting” with a small advisory group.
    • Students will take classes in Literature, Math, Science, and Writing, and have 1 elective class. Students will have 1 academic class meeting every day for 30-45 minutes, and 1 elective class meeting every day for 30 minutes.
    • Students will have a meeting with their advisor one-on-one twice a week for 30 minutes to check in on how they’re doing and what support they need.
    • During the afternoons, students will be able to work on assignments independently or get help by visiting a teacher’s “Office Hours”, where they can go to a meeting and ask questions with other students.
    • Fridays will be special event days, and would include games, competitions, and other community-building activities.
  2. Family Communication
    • BTC will have several opportunities for students and family to get to know their teachers, including a virtual “Open House” event in June before programming begins.
    • Weekly updates will be provided about student engagement to families, and we may do a virtual conference event in the middle of the summer.
  3. Technology
    • Meetings and Classes would take place on Zoom, Google Meet, or a similar technology.
    • Students who need access to technology should let BTC staff know right away to help us understand what family needs are.
    • Teachers will organize their assignments and materials using Google Classroom or a similar learning management platform.
  4. Curriculum
    • BTC staff and teachers will be working to find effective resources for online curriculum that is engaging, rigorous, and interactive.
    • Academic classes will focus on enrichment, providing students opportunities to learn fun and interesting things as well as build skills that they are interested in and would be useful to their school-year learning.
    • Elective classes will be designed by Teaching Fellows to help students learn things they wouldn’t normally have an opportunity to, or to build relationships around common interests.
    • At the end of the summer, students will develop their own Presentation of Learning, summarizing what they learned over the course of the summer using a creative presentation method (video, song, art, dance, animation, essay, poetry, etc.)
  5. Student Support
    • BTC Staff will still provide resources and guidance for students and families facing specific needs over the summer, either due to COVID-19 or other barriers. This includes (and is not limited to) resources for meals and technology support.
    • BTC Staff will plan to deliver any materials or supplies students need for programming in a safe way.

Teaching Fellow Programming & Support

  1. Training & Orientation Schedule
    • Orientation will run from June 15 through June 26, Monday through Friday. Training will include a mix of synchronous (Zoom webinars, discussions, meetings) and asynchronous (assignments, videos, interactive resources, peer feedback) learning, and all workshops and work assignments would be provided online through Google Classroom.
    • Two weeks of Orientation (the last two) would include significant support from Instructional Coaches in designing academic curriculum.
    • Since Orientation is typically two weeks, this time will be helpful for adjusting to an online format and providing time for relevant training.
  2. Summer Program
    • Teaching Fellows will teach 1 academic class to two sections of students, with class sizes ranging from 8 – 13. Each section will meet once a week for 30-45 minutes, and have two required assignments each week. Optional class assignments can be provided for students who want to spend more time learning about topics.
    • Teaching Fellows will teach 1 elective class daily of their own design, for 30 minutes Monday – Thursday.
    • Teaching Fellows will hold “Office Hours” virtually every day in order to be available for students who want extra support.
    • Teaching Fellows will work closely with their Instructional Coach, who will observe classes and provide feedback on lesson planning and curriculum.
    • Teaching Fellows will advise 5-7 students, checking in with them twice weekly for 30 minutes on how they’re doing and what support they may need. Advisors will also provide weekly updates to families about student engagement and conduct virtual conferences mid-summer.
    • Advisors will work with students to help them plan and work on a Presentation of Learning during the last week of the program for them to share what they learned over the summer.
  3. Wrap-Up Week
    • Teaching Fellows will still be required to spend a week reflecting and providing information to students, families, and staff about their summer.
    • Teaching Fellows will have opportunities for training and networking with program partners to help them find career planning support.
    • Teaching Fellows will also create a Presentation of Learning to share with their peers about their experience.
  4. Teaching Fellow Support
    • At this time we are still able to provide Teaching Fellows with their full living stipend ($2,500 for new Teaching Fellows and $2,750 for returning Teaching Fellows) for their work with us this summer.
    • BTC may not be able to provide housing due to decisions made by our housing partners. If a Teaching Fellow is unable to work remotely from where they are living over the summer, we will work with them to determine an alternative plan.
    • Teaching Fellows will check in every week with one of our staff members to ensure that their needs are being met and they are supported in their work with BTC.
  5. Collaboration with Peers
    • Teaching Fellows will still meet for a few hours a day in different peer groups to collaborate, including: academic departments, Elective co-teachers, “clusters” (teachers who work with the same students), and committees.

Program Interns

  • BTC is hiring a number of Program Interns to help build culture virtually. The exact number is still being considered. Students who applied already will be contacted to participate in an interview and selection process where more information will be available.
  • Program Interns will have the same program schedule dates as Teaching Fellows but will have different responsibilities related to culture-building.


  • BTC will still employ Deans as summer staff and we are working on developing schedules and position responsibilities.
  • This includes the Dean of Instruction position that works to support Instructional Coaches directly.

Instructional Coaches

  • BTC will still employ Instructional Coaches as summer staff who will work directly with Teaching Fellows to support them.
  • The exact number of Instructional Coaches and departments is still being developed. Responsibilities will be very similar to the typical position but will also include support for Elective classes.

Breakthrough Twin Cities

2051 Larpenteur Ave E, Saint Paul, MN 55109, USA