Welcome Back, Our Heroes

By Dr. Sandy Husk, AVID Center CEO

Across the U.S., school has already begun in many districts, with others engaged in the planning and preparation so necessary for a smooth beginning to the school year.

During my nearly 20 years as a superintendent, the opening of school was always filled with a mixture of excitement and more than a bit of nervousness. No doubt, this is true for all educators as they prepare to welcome a new group of students. In the classroom, the stakes remain high, and the challenges are significant, as students often come from poverty and difficult circumstances.

But no matter what the students’ situations may be, we know that, in every district, there are a monumental number of staff members from all ranks who are fully committed to the success of their students. Principals, office staff, custodians—all of them combine to provide the best possible environment for the children who count on us. And let us not discount the commitment of our families. In AVID, we often hear stories of parents who are working two or even three jobs to keep food on the table and provide the best home environment that they can to support their children’s dreams.

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If Not You, Then Who?

Jonathan Petrick was the teacher speaker at this year’s Summer Institute in Sacramento, CA. Below is his speech as prepared. You can also watch his speech here!

I would like to extend gratitude to a few people: our past, current, and future military families; my mentor, Mark Collazos; sound advisors, Granger Ward and Bob Romano; Lauren Ramers for bridging financial equality between stateside and international staff developers; my mother and father, Pam and Jess; the Ramstein AVID site team; and all the students who have tolerated my persistence for excellence.

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The Way to Student Success Is an Attitude: Individual Determination

Marciano Flores was the teacher speaker at one of this year’s Summer Institutes in San Diego, CA. Below is his speech as prepared.

When I think about the way to student success, there isn’t so much a way as there is an attitude: individual determination!

I currently teach at my alma mater, East Bakersfield High School (EBHS). In my old neighborhood, I find not much has changed. When I attended EBHS in the 80s, very few of our graduating seniors went off to four-year universities. Many of us wanted to go to college and were encouraged to do so. However, knowing your destination and mapping the way to success are very different. The one, huge difference between then and now is AVID.

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True Advancement

Marissa Gutierrez was a student speaker at one of this year’s Summer Institutes in San Diego, CA. Below is her speech as prepared.

Advancement: the act or instance of moving forward. In order to measure it, one must know the starting point. At a young age, I always looked forward to going to school. I loved learning. My parents raised us in Mexico where they both had their jobs and worked very hard for my brother and me to have a private education. Growing up, I realized that not everyone was that lucky, so I would challenge myself to excel in everything I could. I remember doing great in all my subjects, loving my teachers, and dreaming of becoming an engineer, but that was not my starting point.

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Maybe Teaching Is Overrated…

Elissa Good Smith was the teacher speaker at this year’s Summer Institute in Philadelphia, PA. Below is her speech as prepared. You can also watch her speech!

I’m tired. I’m the kind of tired that is born from having two small children, plus a mountain of papers to grade and lesson plans to create for my six daily preps, the kind of tired that sneaks up on you after spending a decade in a classroom teaching. I’m thinking maybe teaching is overrated. Surely my favorite teachers never felt this way; they never had moments where they sat at their desk, closed their eyes, and prayed for the weekend, did they? My prayer was interrupted by a reminder email about a faculty meeting. I’m sure I rolled my eyes. I’m also sure I put on a smile as I begrudgingly walked down the hall to the auditorium to watch a video courtesy of our new principal. I found a seat next to colleagues, frustrated that the lights were turned down, so I couldn’t even sneak a peek at my cell phone without being noticed.  

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