As I waited for the office clerk to sign off on my time sheet, after a day of substitute teaching the fourth grade class from somewhere not of this planet, I encountered an AVID teacher and was reminded of all the high school students I once established a relationship with who graduated and went on to college because of AVID. Many of these students had been marginal performers when they first came to the school, and over the years I was able to watch them blossom into motivated, self-monitoring, engaged students.
AVID is an acronym for Advancement Via Individual Determination. The key word being determination. For these students, AVID was truly a blessing they never anticipated receiving. It is especially effective for those who tend to be marginalized by a system that is overburdened by such complex issues as integrating students with diverse backgrounds into a classroom setting that will benefit all.
For the most part, many of the students I worked with came from lower and working class families, although the program was not exclusive to these social classes. AVID seeks to teach students skills they will need to become successful in the academic arena. It’s objective is to provide support and tutoring to students who are unfamiliar with methodologies that will ensure their academic success, now and in the future. AVID accomplishes this by building strong relationships between students and the teacher.
The relationship built with the teacher develops effective skills for communicating academic needs, and establishing goals that will facilitate both academic and personal success. It helps by building a foundation of trust between individual students and the teacher. The establishment of peer-to-peer and student-to-teacher relationships is especially effective with those who may have a difficult time seeing how education will benefit them in the future.
I specifically remember one student who came to high school carrying baggage from her difficult home life that caused her to seek support from those who proved not to be supportive. She became a gang member during middle school, and was so deeply involved in her plight, she saw no other options for creating healthy relationships.
The gangs became her family. And she is typical of the mentality that many female gang members have. That mentality being that gang affiliation is fluid, depending on which gang her boyfriend or girlfriend at the time may be involved in. AVID showed the young lady she had options in life that she never considered before. She said the program raised her awareness of what it takes to become successful in a world where she has seen so many fail. The time spent was not without pitfalls, but by her senior year she had turned everything around, and became an A student.
She was admitted to a prestigious university program that would help her reach the life goal she set for herself, to become a dentist. Over the four years prior to that, I had watched her change from disconnected, discontent, and sultry, into a dynamic leader who decided that she deserved more in life than the path she had chosen before AVID. Ultimately, at her high school graduation she was aglow with anticipation for a future she never expected to pursue when she first walked across the esplanade and through the doors of Denver’s flagship high school.