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Avid for AVID

Avid for AVID
Posted on 02/14/2019
Pomona High student Jasmyne Wilson-Derby takes part in a group math tutorial as part of her school’s AVID program.Andy Geise switched on his principal radar at Pomona High School. It was not the kind of radar you think; he was looking for students who might be flying just under it. He knows because he was one of them once.

“I would get distracted in high school. If I had had that support and those structures with a community feel and some of the best teachers in the school working with me to be successful, it would’ve been great.”

That’s where AVID comes in; it helps students stay focused and on track. AVID stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination. In short, it’s a readiness program designed to help high school students develop the skills they’ll need to be successful in college or other post-secondary efforts. So, who are the students who benefit most from the program?

“The average student who does an average job who might think that what they’re doing, is all they can do. They’re doing fine, they’re floating along on the surface like a water skimmer,” said AVID District Director Adrienne Rossi. “However, we know that every student can succeed and be more successful to change their own trajectory. That’s the AVID student.”

Specific skills are targeted, including improving writing, critical thinking, teamwork, and organization.

“I’m a very unorganized person. My brain’s like scattered everywhere. I heard that it was about college readiness and I just wanted to see more opportunities,” said sophomore AVID student Jasmyne Wilson-Derby.

A big part of the program is support for students, not only from AVID teachers but from fellow AVID students, too.

“It's like the first day you're in it; you're already welcomed. There's no if, ands, or buts. You're in it,” said sophomore AVID student Koby Tafoya.

"It's just like walking into a room with your family in it. I've been in AVID since freshman year, and we grew closer; we have our group and stuff. We like to help each other out,” added Wilson-Derby.

The AVID method provides regular opportunities for students to show what they know through group tutorials using whiteboards. Questions and analysis are encouraged, and it includes a wide range of subjects.

“We have English, math, science, but math is usually the one that is more focused with help in our classes,” explained senior AVID student Catherine Weir.

“On the board, you give a 30-second speech about what your subject is, and what exactly you need help with,” added fellow senior AVID student Hiram Figueroa-Chavez.

AVID students have found it very helpful, and the process gives students the chance to understand better subjects or topics that may have been unclear.

“It’s a better workout process than trying to do it by yourself since you end up doing it wrong,” said Weir. “If you have more people, doing it is more helpful because they’ll ask you very helpful questions and they’ll have you do the work for them on the board so they can understand what your process is.”

“I think it’s a lot better to do it [this way] because there are also other people that have the same confusion as you. Not only are you learning from your confusion, they are, too. With family members around you with AVID, they’re helping you understand more about your question,” added Tafoya.

The AVID program is certainly having a positive effect on students.

“To see the impact it has on these students and to start to see the family develop with the excitement the students feel and the confidence that they’re developing,” said Geise.

“It definitely taught me how to be more independent. I highlight more. With math, I struggle the most, but now, with highlighting stuff, it’s easier,” added Wilson-Derby.

So far, Pomona is the only Jeffco high school to have an AVID program, but those who've seen it in action would like to see it expand.

“I think it can belong everywhere because everywhere students need to be more organized,” said Rossi. Everywhere students need to understand what inquiry means, what collaboration does for them and how a strong family inside of school can help them in their school life.”

“I spend a lot of time just thinking about myself in high school and wishing that I had been an AVID student because that’s what’s happening here. I love it,” added Geise.

See the JPS-TV version of this story here or below.

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