We all know school is where you go to learn “Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic,” but how do you learn how to study? How do you learn to find answers to questions? How do you learn to take and organize notes? How do you learn to read and write as a scientist? How do you learn to advocate for yourself?
The answer to all of the above questions (and more) is simple: AVID.
“AVID is a nationally recognized program which provides specialized training and coaching for teachers so they can intentionally and effectively prepare students in grades K-12 for their educational and professional futures,” explained Amy Cornwall, curriculum coach at the SECC Office of Education.
In addition to school-wide strategies in which teachers are trained, there is an AVID elective class for secondary students who wish to further develop their skills for college and career readiness.
Students who wish to participate in the elective are required to interview and must maintain a C-grade average. Assignments include putting together an organized binder or Google Drive system and participating in what AVID calls “tutorials,” where students learn how to work collaboratively to find the answers they need.
Teachers at Mesa Grande and Orangewood academies—the two SECC schools currently using AVID—noticed a difference within the first two weeks of the program.
“The students’ confidence shot up so fast,” commented Zaidy Olivarria, art and marketing teacher at Orangewood, who teaches art, culinary skills, and personal finance. “They learn how to be good students, not just with study skills, but self-discipline, interpersonal skills, and more.”
They spent a week focusing on self-care and dealing with stress, and they have studied learning styles. They also learn to self-advocate, which begins with an assignment to introduce themselves to a teacher and converse on a predetermined topic.
“This may seem silly at a school where everyone knows everyone, but in college, being able to approach the professor with their needs can mean the difference between struggle and success.”
AVID isn’t just for students; the entire school benefits from what Olivarria calls the “in-between stuff.”
“AVID puts all of our teachers on the same page in terms of instructional strategies,” said Alfred Riddle, principal at Mesa Grande Academy. “Not everything is the same, but our strategies are aligned. AVID raises the bar for how we teach.”
Winston Morgan, principal of Orangewood Academy, has been an AVID fan since he attended an AVID conference at a previous job and realized what an asset it would be. He has advocated for it at each school he’s worked for since and now serves as director for the Orangewood program.
“Sometimes, very capable kids are simply without opportunity,” Morgan said with passion. “You give them the opportunity to succeed, and they will fly. We’re all blown away by what they accomplish, but the truth is, they’ve always had it in them; they just needed a little push.”
By Becky St. Clair