Exceptional Student Education




Exceptional Student Education Guiding Principles

We believe all students deserve an exemplary education to achieve at the highest levels. We work hard to make sure that our schools are inclusive, anti-racist, brave spaces where exceptional learners can reach their full potential. We manifest this vision by adding and building capacity within our school communities to be able to:

  • Engage a whole-child approach, fostering students’ physical and socio-emotional well-being
  • Emphasize grade-level, content mastery for ALL students, including exceptional learners
  • Provide timely, data-driven, and empowering support rather than lowering expectations
  • Encourage scholars to understand their strengths and advocate for their learning differences
  • Inspire students to be lifelong learners by nurturing their unique backgrounds, strengths and abilities

Family Supports (led by our ESE Teachers, Deans of Culture, and social works/counselors):

Wellness Checks

Intervention Specialist Check-Ins

Self-Directed Learning

Synchronous Supports

Virtual Call Center


We believe that a robust exceptional student education program directly aligns to our commitment to and celebration of diversity, equity, and inclusion. In service of this same commitment, we prioritize inclusion (within the classroom) for our support services. 

Within both our Citizens and Preps model, we provide the following student-focused and goal-driven support services:

  • English as a New Language (ENL) support
  • Counseling
  • Speech therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Hearing services
  • Gifted education acceleration
  • Nursing services

Beginning this school year (2020-21), we are proud to be able to identify and support gifted students within both our Citizens and Preps models. We also provide the following exceptional student education classroom structures: co-teaching, Extension Classrooms (full-time small group instruction), and intervention classes (part-time small group instruction).

Extension Classrooms, full-time small group instruction, are provided at Citizens Academy Southeast and Village Prep Cliffs for elementary scholars, and E Prep Woodland Hills and Citizens Leadership Academy East for middle school scholars. 

Our Response to Intervention (RTI) program (see below):

  1. Connects our support services to meaningful student achievement in the classroom
  2. Ensures a meaningful transition for any new students to the Breakthrough family
  3. Supplements our classroom curriculum with I-ready
  4. Supports all students to reach and exceed grade-level literacy and math proficiency
Exceptional Student Education | Breakthrough Public Schools

Exceptional Student Education Network Leaders

Kadeem Howard | Breakthrough Public Schools

Kadeem Howard

Managing Director of Exceptional Student Education

Growing up as a gay black man in a low-income urban community within Brooklyn raised by a single-parent and supporting a little brother with emotional management differences -  my family and I are living proof of the impact of exemplary educational opportunities. I have seen directly the devastating consequences of inequitable educational experiences. So for the past 10 years, I’ve committed myself to designing and facilitating excellent educational opportunities that empower all people to achieve fulfilling and self-determined lives. Whether as a Special Education teacher, instructional coach, school-based leader, or Special Populations network-based leader, I believe strongly in the critical role all school staff plays in this important work. I am beyond thrilled to call Breakthrough my new team and family.

SAmmy Ali

Dr. Sammy Ali

Director of Exceptional Student Education

I have always wanted to contribute to the betterment of inner-city youth.  My journey began as a classroom teacher in Chicago, which led me to mentor first and second-year teachers, and ultimately culminated in serving as both a school-based and network-based leader in Cleveland.  I believe passionately that education is a pathway for equity. This passion drives my dedication to support both students and teachers to succeed. My goal is to be a positive example for the Breakthrough family and team while encouraging others towards fulfilling and transcending their goals. The quote that best describes my vision and views on education is represented in Malcolm X’s words: “Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today.”

Jen Taylor | Breakthrough Public Schools

Jen Taylor

Senior Exceptional Student Education Specialist

The Exceptional Student Education Compliance Manager for the Citizens Education Model is Jennifer Taylor.  Mrs. Taylor’s commitment to supporting urban education and exceptional learners has been a driving focus as she has served in several capacities supporting multiple schools over the course of her career. She has held the positions of teacher, principal and director of special education programs. In her tenure, she has lead one school to receive a national blue ribbon from the US Department of Education and another school was recognized by the Center for Education Reform as one of the top 50 charter schools in the nation. In addition, Mrs. Taylor enjoys spending time with family, riding her Harley, quilting, reading a good book and traveling. Mrs. Taylor is excited about the Better Together initiative within Breakthrough Schools and looks forward to being part of the supportive team for all students.

Beatrice Oten

Beatrice Oten

Exceptional Student Education Specialist - Village Prep Schools

Beatrice Oten has been with Breakthrough since 2017, serving both as an Intervention Specialist and Dean of Culture. She is committed to providing intentional support to educators and families. She believes it is very important that students are surrounded by teachers that truly believe in their ability to meet high expectations. She is in education to be one more person working to close the gap of equitable opportunities for our scholars and provide an environment where they feel cared about and supported, right inside their neighborhood. As an ESE Specialist, she hopes to establish rapport with leaders, educators, and families by helping maintain a community where all stakeholders are invested in scholar learning.

Twyla West

Twyla West

Exceptional Student Education Specialist - E Prep Schools

Growing up in the inner city of Cleveland, I experienced firsthand the benefit of a culturally responsive, supportive, and rigorous public-school experience. I made a decision in high school that I wanted to pay that experience forward. I committed myself to showing up for students the same way my teachers showed up and supported me. From a Bachelors from The University of Akron (majoring in Education) to my Master’s degree from George Mason University (majoring in Special Education), I engaged my journey to the classroom with steady determination and passion. I began teaching special education in Northern Virginia, where I stayed for 11 years. Most recently, I returned home to serve as an Assistant Principal in Cleveland, always advocating for my stakeholders (teachers, students, families) along the way. I believe that every person deserves an excellent education, no matter their identity markers, including background or socio-economic status.  I believe in the power of positive, strong relationships – whether it be with my students, families, or work family. Making sure students are put first, treated equitably, and respected will always be my top priority while serving my community. I can’t be more excited to continue this important mission with the Breakthrough family.

Nicole Wolfram | Breakthrough Public Schools

Nicole Wolfram

Exceptional Student Education Specialist - Citizens Academies

As I have walked on my educational journey, I have developed a passion for the importance of trauma and the brain and how it affects the daily lives of our students, staff, families, and classroom learning environments. Throughout the last few years, I began to gain more knowledge through research, professional learning, and discussions with my colleagues. In this, I saw just how many of us needed to gain a better understanding of our students. I spent the last two years coaching my fellow educators in the strong belief that all students learn best when a connection and alliance is formed with their teacher. It is the teacher’s responsibility to provide each child a safe environment free from judgement, labels, and bias. I am extremely excited to be a part of the Exceptional Student Education team within Breakthrough Public Schools in hopes of providing the best supports through Trauma Informed Practices, Culturally Responsive Teaching, and Social Emotional Learning for all of our exceptional learners.

Sabrina Elrad | Breakthrough Public Schools

Allison Elrad

Exceptional Student Education Specialist - Citizens Leadership Academies

Now bringing more than 15 years of experience in education, Allison started her journey supporting exceptional students in the state of Colorado in 1998. In 2013, Allison returned to Cleveland to spend more time with family, when she joined Breakthrough Public Schools. As both a teacher and leader (throughout her time at Breakthrough), Allison has maintained an unwavering commitment to driving equitable educational opportunities and outcomes for exceptional learners within urban communities. She believes strongly that with the right support at the right time, ALL students deserve, and are capable of, reaching their full potential. Additionally, Allison is determined to build and sustain meaningful relationships with students and families, since relationships are the core of our lived experiences. In her spare time Allison likes to read, takes walks and spend time in nature. She’s ready to hit the ground running in her new role on the network academic team! One of her favorite quotes: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Nelson Mandela.


Video Gallery

We work together, and are ready for anything that comes our way. Please enjoy these videos to get a sense of what it is like to be a member of the #BreakthroughFamily.

More About Our Schools


10118 Hampden Ave. in Glenville
Near East Blvd. & Superior

Our Citizens Hampden location features our National Blue Ribbon Award-Winning elementary school Citizens Academy and our MOMENTUM Award-Winning middle school Citizens Leadership Academy.

Citizens Academy

Serving Kindergarten - 4th Grade


12523 Woodside Ave. in Glenville
Near E. 125th & Eddy

We opened our Citizens East location due to strong community demand and support. Here, both our elementary school Citizens Academy East (CAE) and our middle school Citizens Leadership Academy East (CLAE) are located in the same building.

CA East

Serving Kindergarten - 4th Grade

CLA East

Serving Grades 5th - 8th


15700 Lotus Drive
Near Lee & Harvard

Our Citizens Southeast location is our newest K-8. Located in the Lee-Harvard neighborhood, our Southeast Campus is honored to serve scholars from Cleveland and the surrounding neighborhoods.

CA Southeast

Serving Kindergarten - 5th Grade

CLA Southeast

Serving Grades 6th - 8th


1417 E. 36th St in Asiatown
Between Superior & St Clair

Our founding E Prep & Village Prep Cliffs location opened in 2006, and serves students in grades K-8. Our "Preparatory" schools feature a highly structured, joyful environment with energizing routines and tremendous rigor.

Village Prep Cliffs

Serving Kindergarten - 4th Grade

E Prep Cliffs

Serving Grades 5th - 8th


9201 Crane Avenue
E 93rd & Union

Our founding E Prep & Village Prep Woodland Hills is our second Preparatory location, serving students in grades K-8. Our "Preparatory" schools feature a highly structured, joyful environment with energizing routines and tremendous rigor. Woodland Hills is especially helpful in students make multiple years of academic progress in just one year.


9401 Willard Ave.
Cleveland 44102

Preps Willard is our newest E Prep & Village Prep location, serving students in grades K-8. Our first west side Preparatory Campus, Preps Willard is an exciting, diverse, multicultural learning environment featuring high structure, high energy, and academic rigor.

Village Prep Willard

Serving Kindergarten - 4th Grade