April 5, 2019
For the second consecutive year, both Riversprings Middle School and Wakulla Middle School earned the “AVID Schoolwide Site of Distinction” title. Last year, they were two of only 15 middle schools in Florida to earn this award.
AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) is a college readiness system for elementary through higher education that is designed to increase schoolwide learning and performance. It is an internationally successful non-profit college prep program that began in the 1980s with one teacher in one classroom who saw college potential in students who were capable but not well prepared for college, or who were not encouraged to take college prep classes.
Currently, AVID is implemented in over 6,500 schools in 47 states and 16 countries, impacting over two million students. Many AVID students are the first in their family to attend college.
To recognize schools implementing AVID strategies at high levels with a schoolwide impact, three years ago AVID added “AVID Secondary Schoolwide Site of Distinction” as the highest level of AVID Certification for middle and high schools.
At the middle school level, AVID is an approved elective course taken during the school day. Students are selected to enroll in an AVID class after an application process in the spring.
“For one class period a day, they learn organizational and study skills, work on critical thinking and asking probing questions, get academic help from peers and college tutors, and participate in enrichment and motivational activities that make college seem attainable,” states an AVID official.
AVID students are usually required to enroll in at least one of their school's toughest classes, such as an Honors course or a high school credit course like Algebra or Integrated Science, in addition to the AVID elective. The key to success is providing tutoring and small study groups within the AVID classroom.
“As our students progress in AVID, their self-images improve, and they become academically successful leaders and role models for other students. Why would we not want this kind of preparation for the next level available for all our students? To use AVID strategies for students across the board makes sense,” says WMS Principal Tolar Griffin.
Adds RMS Principal Michele Yeomans, who is also the Wakulla County AVID Secondary Schools Coordinator, “During spring and summer, we work on designing a master schedule that creates these opportunities for all students to earn this kind of preparation for high school, career, and college success.
“When our students go to Wakulla High, they should not shy away from taking harder classes like Advanced Placement Statistics or TCC Dual Enrollment courses that might open career doors for them with no cost to their families while they are in high school.
“To give our students the opportunity to perform at higher levels than they ever thought possible for them, and to watch their confidence build because of it, is priceless. It’s why we are in this profession.”
RMS is also an AVID National Demonstration School that other schools can send teams of teachers to observe.
Another requirement includes the opportunity to take pre-college entrance exams from the same companies that make the ACT (American College Test) and SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test). “By the time students are taking the SAT or ACT their final time in high school, they should not be surprised by the rigor of these tests that determine so many opportunities for them, including college entrance, scholarships, and more,” says Chief Academic Officer Sunny Chancy.
In addition, “Training teachers on how to use AVID strategies for any subject is a core AVID requirement. All subject areas are represented on our AVID Site Team. Then we have AVID teachers training other teachers,” says RMS Principal Yeomans. “Professional development is accepted better from your fellow teacher who understands the ins and outs of your particular subject. All the AVID strategies can be incorporated into any classroom.”
Site Team Coordinators are AVID Teachers Kelly Dykes for RMS and Amanda Hofheinz for WMS.
Most of the RMS and WMS teachers use WICOR strategies from AVID: Writing for understanding complex issues; Inquiry, as in critical thinking skills; Collaboration with other students in study groups; Organizational skills to manage schoolwork, extra-curriculars, home life, jobs, etc.; and Reading skills to improve comprehension of difficult texts.
Another component of AVID that RMS and WMS put into action is community service, like reading to elementary school students on Dr. Seuss Day, and helping with Wakulla’s “Operation Santa” which collects food, clothing and toys to give to those in need at Christmas.
“These strategies for success like organizational skills and building self-confidence can be applied to anything our students want to accomplish in their careers and in furthering their education,” says Superintendent Pearce. “Congratulations to RMS and WMS for earning the AVID ‘Schoolwide Site of Distinction’ honor. Well done.”
For more information about AVID, contact the Student Services/Guidance office at your child’s school or visit AVID.org.