By Jim Nelson, Executive Director, AVID Center
AVID Executive Vice President Granger Ward and I spent the week of February 6 in Australia meeting with colleagues who are either implementing AVID or supporting its growth and implementation on that amazing continent. We began working in Australia about five years ago after a wonderful AVID teacher, William DeJean, moved from Southern California to Australia to teach at a university. He introduced AVID to a group of educators from Wodonga Middle College (the equivalent of an American middle school) and it became our first site in Australia. They have flourished and AVID has spread to the secondary college (high school) and one of the feeder primary schools. William remains our AVID consultant on the continent.
More recently, a team from Victoria University in Melbourne secured a grant from the Australian federal government to assist in the implementation of AVID in many more sites. We are now up to six sites, with many more to come. They are working through the Victoria Institute at the University to assist students from low socioeconomic backgrounds to be more successful in pre-University work and to carry that success to the university level. This creates a perfect partnership opportunity for the University and AVID.
They worked to create an Australian Advisory Group with whom Granger and I met in their organizational meeting. The members come from the K-12 and University levels. They are very committed to the success of the project and are an absolute pleasure to work with.
Granger and I were able to visit AVID sites in Melbourne and Wodonga, which is about an hour flight to the north. We were very impressed with the commitment and passion of the educators, and as always, were blown away by the students. They were engaged, enthusiastic, and very funny, simply great young people. It is going to be a pleasure to work in their country.
My trip to Australia reinforced the fact that kids all over the world need AVID. I knew it, but seeing firsthand how AVID transforms both teachers and students, in a country far from the U.S., gave me a great sense of pride. As one Australian educator put it, AVID is “really an authentic pedagogy that actually supports students who haven’t engaged in education before.”