By Jim Nelson
Happy New Year! I’m not confused. I know it’s too early to be celebrating 2012 and thinking about New Year’s resolutions; but starting a new school year is very much like starting a new calendar year. Sometimes, it’s even better.
Do you remember how you, as a student, felt at the beginning of a new school year? I felt good about the beginning of school because I knew I had another chance to be successful. Whatever missteps I’d taken the year before were erased, and I had a fresh start. My sophomore year, one of my teachers told the class that we all started out the year with an “A,” and that we could keep that “A” by doing three things: 1) listening in class, 2) doing our work, and 3) learning what she was teaching. From that first day, the teacher set an expectation and gave us very clear steps to maintain our “A” status. In her eyes, each of us was already a success, and that made a huge difference in how we felt about her and the class.
For the first time, in 1980, at Clairemont High School in San Diego, California, inner-city students were bused in from across town to attend school. Believing that every student could succeed with rigorous curriculum, and that no child should be overlooked because of economic status, race, or ethnicity, Mary Catherine Swanson, then head of the English department, started an elective class she called AVID. She set out to prove that with high expectations, appropriate support, and hard work, every student could achieve academic success and be accepted into four-year universities. Now, more than 30 years later, her belief and the AVID system she founded have more than proven that philosophy.
One of the reasons AVID has grown and remained so viable is because of educators like you who believe, as Mary Catherine did, that every student has the ability to succeed. That belief, coupled with the AVID strategies and curriculum that have been developed and refined over three decades, can ensure success for any student with determination.
This summer, we trained more than 20,000 educators on using those proven AVID methodologies and curriculum during our Summer Institutes, and our commitment to bring you the finest professional development through research, best practices, and support will continue this year via our National Conference and our other scheduled trainings. I hope you will be able to take advantage of these opportunities, as they will provide more tools to support your efforts as educators.
Like the New Year, the start of school brings anticipation, optimism, and opportunities. So as school begins this fall, I hope you will rely on your AVID training to make a difference in the lives of the students you impact, and that each student will begin with an “A” in your eyes.
Best of luck and happy new (school) year!