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Why Breakthrough?

Breakthrough Leadership Academy

The goal of Breakthrough Leadership Academy (BLA) is to provide a strong foundation through academic rigor that is reinforced by hands-on experiences and consistent application of skills in real-life settings.

BLA offers a year-round school program that provides real life experiences for all students. This is accomplished through local, national, and international partnerships and travel. We encourage students using fundamental values:

  1. Learn Something New Every Day

  2. Apply What You’ve Learned

  3. Develop Your Own Thinking and Create

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To provide a quality educational program that leverages and builds upon the unique curiosity of our students, helps them to advocate for themselves and their communities, provides them with the tools to assume responsibility for their learning and actions, and prepares them for high school graduation, postsecondary education, employment, and community activism.


Mrs. Nikilia Reid

Nikilia Reid has a Bachelor of Arts in Middle Grades Education from Clark Atlanta University, an Historical Black University and obtained her Master’s in Early Adolescence from Bank Street College of Education. Mrs. Reid also holds an 092 Administration Certification from Southern Connecticut State University. 

Mrs. Reid has been an educator for over twenty five years, starting  as a Senior Counselor for LEAP, a year-round program for youth located in New Haven, CT. While continuing her work at LEAP, she was promoted to Resource Administrator and then Curriculum Coordinator.  

After her time at LEAP, Nikilia began her teaching career at Roberto Clemente Leadership Academy in New Haven, CT, as a 6th-grade Social Studies teacher.  Eventually, she would teach at Amistad Academy, the flagship school for Achievement First, and later Highville Charter School and Highville Change Academy.  


Mrs. Reid’s experiences allowed her to provide her students with a rigorous curriculum in any subject she taught. As a teacher, she provided hands-on field experiences outside of the classroom. This hands-on learning ranged from local field experiences at the historical society and museums, camping, skiing, and overnight adventures to Natures’ Classroom, Texas, and Washington, D.C. She also provided opportunities for students to take international expeditions to Canada and China.

While Nikilia loved being in the classroom, she knew it was time to challenge herself as a leader.  Mrs. Reid went back to school, and in 2009, she received her 092 Administration Certification from Southern Connecticut State University. Next, she served as Dean of Students and Global Studies Coordinator at Highville Charter School and later at Jumoke Academy.


However, one of her proudest achievements came when she helped to found and develop Highville Change Academy, a high school that continued the legacy of Highville Charter School. Mrs. Reid also served as the high school's interim principal and was one of the key people instrumental in building the high school’s foundation during its early years.  During her time at Jumoke Academy she served as a Dean of Students of Enrichment at Jumoke’s flagship school TED and then as the Principal at Jumoke Academy Honors at the Hartford Conservatory.


Currently, Mrs. Reid is a founding member of Breakthrough Leadership Academy Charter school which is proposed to open in August of 2024. She also holds the position of Deputy Director of the Dixwell Q House Community Center in New Haven, CT.


Rev. Dr. John E. Cotten, Jr.

Dr. Cotten has a degree in Elementary Education from Southern Connecticut State University and a Doctor of Theology degree from Christian Leadership Bible College. He is the Founder and President of H.O.P.E., Inc., a non-profit community services agency based in the Newhallville neighborhood of New Haven, Connecticut, in addition to being the Senior Pastor of New Hope Missionary Baptist Church.

His teaching career began when he and his wife provided home school and daycare services to the community. He has worked in the New Haven public school system as an In-School Suspension Officer. Through his work with youth he has mentored and tutored young people extensively throughout the state of Connecticut for over 25 years.

Pastor Cotten, a New Haven native, started H.O.P.E., Inc. in order to address inequities among resources in neighborhoods in need across the City of New Haven. His passion for education has guided the organization's mission through programs specifically designed to educate individuals, families and the community at-large.

As Senior Pastor of the New Hope Missionary Baptist Church, he offers more than 23 years of expertise in pastoral leadership with success in implementing mission and vision. Additionally, he currently serves as the President of the Congress of Christian Education for The Connecticut State Missionary Baptist Convention, and is currently working on earning a Master of Arts degree in Transformational Leadership & Administration from New York Theological Seminary.


Our Founders


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PO Box 9032, New Haven, CT 06532


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