AVID Helps Clear Path to College

AVID tutor Justin Ross-Walker works with freshmen James Walls and Robert Williams.

“AVID is a college prep class,” explains Heights High freshman Shailynn Strowder. “It helps me stay on track.” Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID), an elective class for credit, gives support to students with mid-range GPAs (2.0 – 3.5) to improve their academic record and prepare for college. Students sign a contract accepting responsibility for their learning by taking rigorous college prep courses, using a daily planner and maintaining a well-organized AVID binder.

Teachers Shawn Washington and Mark Sack work together to support their students.  “Some students face daily challenges that distract them from their school work,” explained Ms. Washington. “One student is frequently absent due to a chronic illness. Others just need extra support to work to their potential.”

Classrooms are stocked with textbooks from most classes. On the blackboard are reminders of upcoming tests or project deadlines. Walls feature samples of student work and diagrams of interests, life goals, and plans for achieving them. “They have a lot to read each night, papers to write, and projects to do. If they get behind it’s easy to get discouraged. We help them figure out how to make it all work,” added Mr. Sack.

On Mondays and Wednesdays, AVID classes follow a curriculum of learning and study strategies, advanced reading and writing skills, higher level inquiry and thinking processes, collaboration, and time management skills. Tuesdays and Thursday, AVID students work in small groups with tutors who are college graduates. On Fridays, students do service projects, listen to speakers, or tour college campuses.

College is continuously discussed. A student recently explained that her parents thought a college degree in fashion would not lead to a good job.  Her tutor, who minored in fashion merchandising, discussed the realities of building a career in the fashion industry. “Don’t think you’ll graduate, jump into a job with a major designer and go to New York and Paris,” she cautioned. “It takes a lot of time drawing, sewing, and doing basic work before you get a good job.”

One hundred students are enrolled in AVID at the high school and grades 7 and 8 at Roxboro Middle. In its fourth year at Heights High, AVID will have its first 11 graduates in June 2011, and all are headed to college. AVID will expand next year to include more students from the high school and students at all of the three middle schools.

Read More on School News From Reaching Heights
Volume 4, Issue 3, Posted 9:32 AM, 03.01.2011