By Robin Shear
CORAL GABLES, Fla. (July 30, 2015) —“I want to see big. I want to see three dimensions. Make it spacious.” Those were the instructions College Bound teaching fellow Robert Harriss gave students in his vertebrate anatomy class as he handed out boxes of raw spaghetti and bags of marshmallows. The youngsters paired up and then dug into the materials, creating everything from human skeletons to fish skeletons.
In its second year at the School of Education and Human Development, the Breakthrough Miami College Bound summer institute brought more than 100 high-achieving students from schools throughout Miami-Dade County to the Coral Gables campus for six weeks of academic enrichment. With participants heading into ninth grade in the fall, College Bound is intended to keep their minds actively engaged and primed for high school success during the break with daily core classes in literature, history, and math, along with electives selected from the majors of their teaching fellow instructors. The teaching fellows are college students from around the nation, and this summer the electives they taught ranged from psychology and anatomy to broadcast journalism.
“It’s a privilege to attend,” said Cameryn Johnson, 16, a former College Bound participant who served as a volunteer for teaching fellow Jessica Ramos this summer. A University of Illinois student, Ramos taught literature and broadcast journalism. Students in her journalism elective had the chance to create a movie trailer, from conception to acting to editing, for a drama about “a nerd and a bully” who ultimately work through their differences and become friends.
The College Bound experience likely had as great an impact on Ramos as it did on her students, several of whom wrote her letters of appreciation that brought tears to her eyes. “I’m meant to be here,” she said.
The College Bound summer institute is part of Breakthrough Miami’s tuition-free academic program that starts with 5th grade and continues through high school graduation. During the school year, Breakthrough Miami serves over 1,000 highly motivated students from under-resourced communities all over Miami-Dade County at five sites, including the University of Miami.