Monte Vista Middle School Principal, Janet Covacevich gave a powerful speech at our San Diego 2 Summer Institute. Years ago, AVID broke the cycle of poverty for her, and today, she does the same for her students. Click here for video of Janet and our other speakers from the event!
In life, we are taught that everything that has a beginning also comes with an end. For our students, success starts here with AVID. But the beautiful thing about the success AVID brings to our students is that it has no end or limits.
When we think about those youngsters sitting in our classrooms, we often don't know their stories. Imagine those students who experience the difficulties of immersing into a new culture and a new language. Think about the students who face homelessness and a loss of hope to exit a cycle of poverty. I have to share my story with you, for I am that child.
1994 changed my life when my parents decided to leave Mexico and start a new life in the United States. I was an English Learner (and still consider myself to be) in 8th grade and had to meet every standard with a language barrier, academic limitations, and financial hardships. I’m the daughter of a mother who only reached 6th grade and a father who left 7th grade to start working the fields. We were homeless, on public assistance, and I remember having only four changes of clothes.
I landed in the classroom of Mrs. Diamantopoulos who recommended me for the AVID program in high school, and since I didn't know any better, I went along with it. Little did I know that by joining AVID, my success would start there. I met my fairy godmother, my AVID teacher, Mrs. Goddard. This woman “made me” do an assignment- get a college application and complete it- she then drove it to the college the day it was due. I was accepted and shocked. I never thought to be college material. I thought to myself, “Do they know what they are doing?”
I am a product of the AVID program and very proud of it. I married the life of an educator and became an advocate for students. I was a teacher and now, I am now a principal at a middle school working with a team of passionate teachers to become a model AVID school because we know that AVID breaks the cycle of poverty, it empowers students, it changes lives.
The most rewarding thing in this journey is seeing our students gain hope and the belief that they are college material, even when they do not believe it, and they can have that choice. The mission of AVID is to close the achievement gap and change the lives of students- what we fail to realize is that, with AVID, we aren’t changing a life with each child- we are changing their generations to come because college will become the expectation.
As an AVID student, I blossomed and felt like I acquired super powers for learning. As an AVID teacher, I also felt like I had super powers for helping students prosper and excel in mathematics. As an administrator, I get to work with the fairy godmothers and fathers of our students and plan to give hope to all students who set foot in our school. The most rewarding thing is when you see students who have formed their lives and careers, and then they tag you on Facebook, to let you know that you made that difference.
I am the full circle, the unleashed potential and evidence of what our students can become. My mission continues to be changing the lives of students as mine was changed. AVID not only transforms students, it transforms educators- we make each classroom a home. We give them hope. We give them a family. We give them power. AVID gives them wings. For those of you who believe that our students are our future – that is not entirely true. They are our present. Everyone in this room is the fairy godmother or father to at least one student. Wave that magic wand, get those super powers warmed up, and go give them hope. Remember that success starts here, with AVID. Once we empower them, their success will have no end!
Janet is the principal at Monte Vista Middle School in San Jacinto, California. Before that she taught math for five years then worked as an assistant principal as well. As a teacher she used AVID strategies in her math classroom, and as an assistant principal she worked to maintain AVID Demonstration status at her site. Her goal now is to make Monte Vista a National Demonstration School as well.