By Craig McKinney, AVID Teacher and Staff Developer
With Thanksgiving just a few days away, I think it’s useful to reflect on things for which I am thankful:
I am thankful that I had parents who graduated from college and helped me see the importance of education throughout my life.
I am thankful that my parents read to me when I was young and assisted me with my homework.
I am also thankful that my parents introduced me to all kinds of culture, that I was able to travel to places foreign and domestic, to attend cultural events and lectures, and to develop academic and creative interests.
I am thankful that I had stability in my home as a young person—that I had the fortune to attend first through twelfth grade in the same school district and, because of that, had no upheaval or discontinuities in my education.
I am thankful that my parents pushed me to take a challenging curriculum of honors and AP classes but were there to help and encourage me when the going got rough.
I am thankful that I had leisure time growing up so that I could explore interests on my own.
I am thankful that my father, who was a businessman, taught me how to tie a tie, how to converse with adults, how to eat at a restaurant where there were multiple forks beside my plate, how to shake hands and make eye contact, and how to write a resume.
I am thankful that my mother, who was a stay-at-home mom for my pre-school years and later a second grade teacher, taught me how to count, read, and write the alphabet before I started school; was available in the summers to drive me to art lessons, the library, piano lessons, and SAT prep classes; showed me how to do my own laundry; and provided numerous outlets for creative playtime.
I am thankful that my parents knew about how to apply for colleges, that they helped me with my college search, took me to visit colleges, saved money to help pay for my college education, and supported me through each step of the college search process.
Because of my upbringing and family situation, I had every advantage to help me be successful throughout my education from kindergarten through my master’s degree.
Not all of our students are this fortunate.
Though there is no single AVID Elective student profile, most of these students are the first in their family to go to college.
Many do not have two parents at home. In some cases, no adult at home speaks English. Some AVID students have parents and siblings who may not have graduated from high school. Often, these students have jobs before or after school. For some, there is no adult at home when the student gets home, and perhaps there is no adult at home when the student goes to bed at night or wakes up in the morning. Some AVID students have moved around and have significant gaps in their education. Others are parents themselves. Some AVID students have never taken an honors or AP class before this year and have no one at home to help them if they encounter difficulty. Statistics say that most of these students—without some help and guidance—may not finish high school and will not go to college.
What all AVID Elective students should have in common is the Individual Determination to succeed in school, to attend a four-year university, and to earn a degree. In order to do that, they need your help.
During this time of giving thanks, consider the factors that helped you achieve on your educational path. And think about how you can be one of the people your AVID students will later thank because of the support you provided them on their journeys to success.
I’m thankful for all you do to help all your students grow and succeed.
Have a safe and restful Thanksgiving break.
Craig McKinney teaches Humanities at Shepton High School in Plano, Texas. A Dallas-area native, Craig attended Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, where he received degrees in English and Sociology. He earned his master’s degree at the University of North Texas. During his 22-year teaching career at Shepton, Craig has taught English, Humanities, Latin, and the AVID Elective. As part of his contribution to Shepton’s AVID site team, Craig spreads AVID strategies schoolwide through staff in-services and by writing a weekly Wednesday WICOR email. When he’s not teaching ninth and tenth graders, Craig works as an AVID staff developer. He also bakes a mean loaf of sourdough bread, serves as an officer of his university’s local alumni association, and loves herb gardening, attending cultural events, and playing board games.
Want to read more blogs from Craig? Check these out!
Your Teacher WICOR Summer Homework
A Brain-Based Paradigm Shift
In the Classroom: Setting House Rules
For more on AVID, visit http://avid.org/what-is-avid.ashx.