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The “Not So Easy” Choice 

Kevin Hendrick is the principal for Northeast High School in St. Petersburg, Florida, and an AVID Staff Developer. At a recent AVID Senior Pinning Ceremony for Pinellas County Schools, he gave the following remarks.   

Tonight we are here to honor these amazing and talented AVID seniors as they begin to finish their K–12 educational journeys and continue their college experience.  I say “continue” because as we all know, this group has already challenged themselves with multiple college courses through the Advanced Placement program or Dual Enrollment.  Your journey, no doubt, has involved a great deal of individual determination, one of the hallmarks of AVID.  This decision to dedicate yourselves to academics for many of you has not been easy.  There are so many alternative choices for you over your high school years, and those in attendance tonight have supported you in this “not so easy” choice.  And tonight I am going to highlight some of your supporters in your school family.

Your AVID Elective teachers made the “not so easy” choice to become AVID teachers.

  • The easy thing for teachers is to spend their evenings and summers at home, but instead they happily attend AVID Summer Institutes, Path trainings, and dedicate themselves to professional development.  
  • The easy thing for your teachers to do is to leave their classroom walls bare, have minimal excitement, and not worry about your specific future, but instead their classrooms come alive with charts of your hopes and dreams, college memorabilia and timelines everywhere, and music playing to keep your energy up.
  • And the easy thing for your teachers to do would be to allow you to come into class and form study groups or line up like an old-fashioned study hall, but instead they thrill you with those TRF forms and run tutorials twice a week, forcing you to stretch your thinking, ask Level 2 and 3 questions and work as a team to solve problems.

Your principals, and assistant principals have made the “not so easy” decision to support AVID in your school.

  • They have taken WICOR—Writing, Inquiry, Collaboration, Organization and Reading—strategies schoolwide, when it is easier to sit back and not chart what strategies teachers are using to support all students.
  • They help to fund your programs by sending teachers to training, purchasing supplies, paying for field trips, and much more when it is much easier to say the money isn’t in the budget.
  • And they find the very best teachers to support you in your learning when it’s easier to say AVID is just an elective and assign any random teacher to the program.

And let’s not forget our school board, superintendent, and his staff who’ve made the “not so easy” decision to support AVID in our schools.

  • They fund the program, tutors, and teachers, when the easier response would be, “That is too expensive.”
  • They’ve made the commitment to AVID and embedded it in our District Strategic Plan where it is mentioned six times.
  • And they’ve brought this program to every secondary school in our district, helping to ensure 100% Student Success.

Why have you, our honored students, your teachers and administrators, and our school board and superintendent and his staff all made these “not so easy” decisions to pursue excellence?  Perhaps they’ve all been inspired by the words of Pharrell Williams:

Here come bad news talking this and that, yeah,
Well, give me all you got, and don’t hold it back, yeah,
Well, I should probably warn you I’ll be just fine, yeah,
No offense to you, don’t waste your time.

Or maybe it was Kermit the Frog from whom you grabbed your inspiration when he said:

It’s not easy being green.
It seems you blend in with so many other ordinary things
And people tend to pass you over
’Cause you’re not standing out
Like flashy sparkles in the water
Or stars in the sky.

But for certain each AVID participant can identify with these words from poet Glenda Fulton Davis:

It’s not always easy to fight the good fight.
But it is always good, and it is always right.

Congratulations to each of you, your teachers, administrators, and our district for doing what is right.  Tonight we see the fruits of your labor, even though it may not have been so easy.  Good luck to each of our AVID seniors in your final weeks of high school, the continuation of your college careers, and beyond.

Kevin Hendrick has served as the principal of Northeast High School in St. Petersburg, FL on two occasions, returning in January 2012 after working at the district office. He has been a high school social studies teacher, assistant principal, athletic coordinator and the Director of High School Education for Pinellas County Schools. Under his leadership, Northeast High School is an Emerging Demonstration School as the school’s AVID school wide implementation has flourished.  He is a graduate of both the University of South Florida and the University of North Carolina.

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