Tim Garcia (Class of 2006) graduated from Middlebury College with a degree in film and media studies. He attended Breakthrough New York as the original Summerbridge program, and returned to serve in multiple teaching and tutoring roles.

The Impact of Near-Peer Relationships

As a sixth grader, Tim first heard about Breakthrough from a presentation at his school. He was interested by the idea of having near-peer teachers who were in high school and college, rather than those who were traditionally older and not as easy to relate to. These mentors had a lasting impact on Tim and became one of his favorite parts of the program.

“Everyone was gracious [and] offered advice or support,” he says. “Everyone was always looking to connect and encourage me constantly. It kept me going.”

At the time, Breakthrough only extended through middle school; however, Tim would continue to be involved with the organization throughout high school and college. He served in various mentorship roles and taught as a Teaching Fellow for two years. It was common to see his peers return to Breakthrough in similar ways.

“It was one of the most welcoming environments I’d ever been in,” he recalls. “You saw a lot of siblings – it was like ‘Breakthrough generations.’ I felt like it was important to be part of that.”

A Teacher and an Author

Tim was a middle school history and writing teacher for ten years, during which time he also developed DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) trainings and curricula. His experiences in Breakthrough and beyond informed this DEI work that he continues today.

As he engaged with younger students on DEI topics, Tim found that it was difficult to find age-appropriate resources that tackled these issues. He was inspired to write his own book entitled “Bailey Bear Goes to Work.” With this book, Tim hopes to help children understand topics of empathy, community action, allyship, and systems and structures.
“I learned how to create those senses of belonging and inclusion,” he explains of his work as a DEI professional. “I saw the impact of diversity and in building a sense of safety and growth in a community.”

Read more about his publication on Amazon.

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