Khloey Jean-Baptiste spent Election Day taking photos of the Coconut Grove Firehouse and the people that gathered to cast their ballots.
Khloey, an eighth grader at Ada Merritt K-8 Center, took the photos of the people at the polling precinct as part of Breakthrough Miami program.
“It was actually really hard because there were a lot of people that didn’t want their pictures taken or didn’t want to take our surveys,” she said.
Webber Charles, associate site director for Breakthrough Miami at the Ransom Everglades School, said programs like the one held on Election Day are often planned for scholars of the program on teacher planning days.
“We come up with creative activities on teacher planning days,” Charles said. “We thought it would be a great idea to provide these students hands-on activities on Election Day. We decided to design an exit poll and students would formulate some of the questions.”
According to Charles, the scholars had some unexpected lesson in electoral rules.
“We went to this precinct and we immediately began to interview voters in the line, and much to our surprise, we didn’t know it was illegal to do exit polls in the precinct,” he said. “They had learning experience.”
While some students like Khloey took photos, others conducted surveys and interviewed voters.
“We were told that while the citizens were voting or were standing in line to vote it was not a good time to ask them to complete a survey, because it could a distraction to some people,” wrote Edward Leonard,
an eighth-grader at George W. Carver Middle School. “We respected the rule.”
Breakthrough Miami is an eight-year, tuition-free academic program offered to motivated students around Miami-Dade County. The application process is similar to the college application process.
Breakthrough Miami has locations all over the world, but according to Webber, the largest is housed in
Miami. Breakthrough Miami is one of 32 Breakthrough programs in the United States. They work closely with Miami-Dade public schools and with Teach for America.
In addition to planning programs on teacher planning day, Breakthrough Miami hosts a six-week academic enrichment program for students each summer at sites including Ransom Everglades School, Palmer Trinity
School, Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart, Miami Country Day and the Cushman School. During the school year, programs are held during two Saturdays each month for the scholars in the program.
“We start working with Miami-Dade students after their fourth-grade year,” Charles said. “They come through the application process kind of mimics college application process. The goal is to gauge the level of self-motivation and persistence.”
Those qualities are integral to the program.
“Persistence is one of the agents that allow students to be successful,” he said. “It will determine whether a student will be successful or not, it’s not necessarily natural talent or intelligence.”