Poverty, Privilege, and Academic “Othering”

By Yvonne Ortiz-Prince, Program Manager, AVID for Higher Education

I hail from a long line of strong women. Born in Ponce, Puerto Rico, my maternal grandmother grew up poor and received the equivalent of a 6th grade education. In search of greater financial opportunity, my grandparents decided to move to New York. Abuelito remained temporarily with their eldest son, so he could complete the school year. Abuelita rode on a steamship with their infant and toddler sons, speaking no English. When Abuelito and my eldest uncle arrived four months later, Abuelita had secured a job as a seamstress, as well as child care and furniture, in their modest railroad apartment in the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

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“That” Teacher

By Jeanie Greenidge, AVID Teacher and Coordinator, O’Banion Middle School

Photo courtesy of Sebron Snyder Photography

Every school has at least one. That teacher who does the “hard, personal stuff.” She is the one who takes a student shopping for her first bra, when it’s time (because there is no one else available to do it). It is that teacher whom the other teachers approach to have a talk about the nuances of deodorant; that teacher who has an extra stock of snacks in case of hunger, of extra uniform clothing, some extra balm for chapped lips, feminine hygiene products, extra pens and pencils, and extra time to “be there” for our students; to listen and try to understand students. These “soft” skills come more easily for some teachers than others. These teachers can become a tribe unto themselves.

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Supporting African American Male Achievement 

by Dr. Pedro Noguera, Peter L. Agnew Professor of Education, New York University

We asked Dr. Pedro Noguera to help us consider AVID’s role in helping our communities and schools support African American male achievement. See Dr. Noguera’s speech at the 2013 AVID Urban Leaders Convening and read his blog below. AVID would like to thank Dr. Noguera for his leadership, advocacy, and insights.

Many of the strategies that are effective in supporting students who require extra support will also benefit African American male students. For example, participating in high-quality afterschool programs, developing systems to personalize learning, and using early intervention to address the learning needs of struggling students before they fall behind are just a few examples of strategies that can be highly effective. However, unless there is a deliberate effort to make sure that African American male students are included and allowed to benefit from such efforts, and that the personnel hired to staff these programs have the ability to relate to African American males, such efforts will not be successful, and in many schools, they will be excluded.  

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A Brain-Based Paradigm Shift

By Craig McKinney, AVID Teacher and Staff Developer

I teach a class which requires students to read (and comprehend) a college-level textbook. The daunting reading assignments are the biggest hurdle I have to jump over as a teacher and the greatest challenge my students face.

Like many teenagers, most of my students have yet to figure out what it means to study. They barricade themselves in their rooms, put earphones in ears, crank up the music, turn on the TV, keep the cellphone handy to make sure they don’t miss a text or tweet, and then proceed to read the chapter. The next day, they complain that the chapter took them “forever” to read, and furthermore, “it was impossible to understand.” Imagine that.

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Let’s Not Abandon Foster Youth in College Readiness Dialogue

By Luis A. De La Cruz, AVID Alumnus

The long-awaited 18th birthday – a time when many can call themselves adults without having to undertake the responsibilities accompanying that designation. It’s a time of celebrations, gifts, and much-expected independence where decisions will be made about educational, occupational, and social aspirations.

When you are in foster care, the long-awaited becomes the long-dreaded 18th birthday. From one day to the next, you experience the sudden loss of a home and financial safety net; the loss of the insufficient and hollow but nevertheless, sole relationships in your life; your few belongings placed and handed to you in a black trash bag. For the first time, you have the independence to exercise your free will; but how you exercise it comes with caustic consequences and there is very little room for error. There is no one to fall back on.

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