By Barbara L. Chavira, AVID Teacher, Macy Intermediate
After returning home from a rather normal day, my son came up to me and said, “Mom, I went on RateMyTeachers.com. There were a few negative comments and a few positive ones about you. One comment in particular stood out to me. It stated, ‘Mrs. Chavira is evil and makes you work so hard, but I hate that I love her. I got into college thanks to her.’”
Immediately, I knew who wrote it – a former AVID student named Alex!
All AVID teachers face the challenge of students accepting a new culture of learning. That transformation usually takes awhile. In Alex’s case, it took around five years. You might be that “tough” teacher – the first to expose the students to a rigorous curriculum. Alex, in our very first AVID class, and I were together through his seventh- and eighth-grade years. He struggled and resisted, but his parents, teachers, AVID counselor and I were not about to lose this gem: a male Latino with potential and goals. He seemed to be on probation often. In high school, his struggle continued until his senior year.
Then, one day he visited. “Miss, I want to apologize. I wasn’t too happy with you checking up on me in high school, telling me to work harder, that I could do better. I realize now that it was for my own good. But, I still don’t understand how I got accepted into Cal Poly Pomona.”
“Alex, you never gave up,” I told him.
He replied, “That’s because AVID never gave up on me.”
The biggest obstacle is getting students to believe that fulfilling AVID requirements will lead to a college degree. No matter how challenging outside factors may be, getting the students to understand a new way of looking at themselves is THE biggest challenge.
I was updated about Alex’s college endeavors when his brother, Jonathan, became one of our AVID tutors. When we visited Cal Poly Pomona, guess who we “bumped” into? Alex! And you know what he insisted on showing the AVID students? The one thing he hated the MOST about AVID, his BINDER, all organized with Cornell notes throughout!
Alex went on to graduate from Cal Poly Pomona in four years and returned as a guest speaker at our AVID awards celebration. He encouraged the students to stick with AVID, telling them it would pay off in the future.
One of the most rewarding parts of being an AVID teacher is that as our students accept a new culture of learning, and we often hear of their achievements. As a former MUSD trustee and parent, I have observed many support programs and NONE have worked like AVID because AVID works for ALL students. I recently learned about another one of our former AVID students, a recent college graduate, who is now pursuing a degree in geriatric medicine at USC! This student was top in his AVID class and did not let his immigration status stop his pursuit of a college degree. Many teachers seldom get to learn of how their efforts paid off. I hear it often, and fortunately, not from “RateMyTeachers.com.”
Barbara L. Chavira lives in Monterey Park, CA with her husband, Richard. She was the first in her family to graduate from high school and received her Bachelor’s Degree from CSULA in Political Science and Master’s Degrees from Azusa Pacific in Education and Educational Administration. Barbara was a legal secretary/office manager for 13 years, and then a stay-at-home mother to Anthony, Patrick, and Richard. She served as a Montebello Unified School District Board Trustee from 1991 to 1995, and in 1996, became the 8th grade Language Arts/Social Studies teacher at J.F. Macy Intermediate. In 2000, Barbara began as the AVID Coordinator/7th grade teacher. She has taught 6th through 8th grade AVID, as well as 7th and 8th grade Language Arts/Social Studies for all levels. Barbara is certified and teaches GATE and co-teaches RSP students.