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Kindling A Fire: Breakthrough Cincinnati Spotlight

Ah, summer…the quiet months when schools shut down as everyone relaxes at the beach. Well, not quite.

Summers on our campus are always abuzz with activity. From the staff who busily prepare for the coming school year to the tireless maintenance team that ensures the buildings and 62-acre grounds remain beautiful every day; our campus is never very quiet during the summer.

Adding to the bustle on campus is our extraordinarily rich summer programming. We host nearly 1,000 youth from ages 18 months through eighth grade participating in summer camps and courses, which range from Little Athletes Academy to CCDSurvival Skills Camp to STEAM Camp. Many Country Day teachers and students work summer camps and courses, exposing campers to experienced educators and providing students with leadership opportunities.

Another familiar reminder of the school year is the palpable sense of joy on campus and the smiles on campers’ faces during the summer months. My own kids have always loved CCDSummer as they have tried new activities, sharpened athletic skills, and made new friends. Mom doesn’t mind having them out of the house, either.

For me, memories of summer also bring to mind our long-standing partnership with Breakthrough Cincinnati. Breakthrough provides a rigorous, four-year college preparatory summer learning program for high-need, high-potential middle school students while it also inspires and trains college students as the next generation of teachers. Breakthrough’s goal is to “energize underrepresented aspirational students to enter college with confidence. They are taught and nurtured by service-minded young adults and encouraging families…to advance education, equity, and economic mobility in the tri-state.”

Since its founding more than 30 years ago, Breakthrough has partnered with Country Day to deliver its life-altering program here on campus. But for Country Day, Breakthrough also connects the school more fully to the community, ensuring that Country Day is not just a school on the hill, but a school of the city.

I can personally attest to the program’s transformative nature. My own love for education was first kindled as a student-teacher for Breakthrough more than 20 years ago. There is no feeling quite like seeing a bright young mind be awakened to the possibilities of knowledge. I am forever grateful for the impact the program had on the students I taught – and on me.

Steve Dessner, a former Country Day parent who has served on Breakthrough’s board for many years, summed it up well: Breakthrough is “the spontaneous combustion of ideas and energy in pursuit of asking any and all questions with no fear of risk or failure.” I felt that spirit years ago as a teacher, and I see it in our building each summer.

This year, Breakthrough is fortunate to have an outstanding new leader, Executive Director Dr. Cady Short-Thompson. According to Cady, the mission is what drew her to the position. “Providing education enrichment to help students thrive in order to have a big, bright future moves me to work really hard. It’s reassuring to know that we have this widespread, long-standing support from the Country Day community.”

Country Day’s support for Breakthrough is grounded in a sense of common purpose – using education to help students flourish and lead into the future. That purpose never wanes, not even in summer.

"Kindling A Fire" is a column submitted regularly to Indian Hill Living by Head of School Rob Zimmerman '98.