Read Your Inner Compass: Another Way to Look at College Readiness

By Jonathan Petrick, AVID Staff Developer, Elective Teacher, and Coordinator, Ramstein Middle School, Germany

A little over a year ago, I enrolled in a land navigation course (orienteering and compass work minus the GPS). As I navigated a compass course through the daylight and darkness, I couldn’t help but wonder how AVID strategies, inquiry, collaboration, determination, and so on, could help me as I sat in the woods—temporarily lost—at nearly midnight. So, my AVID brain started ticking…. How would my students fare at a similar activity? At the conclusion of the summer, I returned to my school in Germany and contacted someone who could help guide my idea of putting my students through a similar course to fruition, and in the process, he helped me think about my work as an AVID teacher in a new way.

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Building a Scholarship Buzz

By Kristen Behrens, English and AVID Teacher, Mundelein High School

At Mundelein High School, we host four Parent University Nights per year. This year, one evening in particular stood out to me. I was charged with educating parents on the nuances of the FAFSA, scholarship opportunities, and how to interpret a financial aid award letter. The response was stunning. I quickly realized that AVID parents and students are gripped by fear when it comes to the idea of taking out student loans for college. Parents literally created a line down my classroom’s hallway after the meeting, and I stayed in my classroom to privately talk each family off the ledge until 8:30 p.m. that night. Their financial woes were sobering, and I quickly realized that I needed an action plan to make parents realize how hard their students have worked, and that they are worthy of attending a four-year institution right after high school—even if loans do, in fact, need to be considered.

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How We Do This All Day Long

By Craig McKinney, AVID Elective Teacher and Staff Developer

At the end of the second of five class periods, the guest speaker turned to me with a look of exhaustion and asked, “How do you do this all day long?”

By the end of sixth period, she was, as they say, “phoning it in.” A glazed expression in her eyes, she continued to click through her PowerPoint slides and deliver the same art history lesson—with the same inflections, the same pauses, and the same practiced information. My students sat there dutifully taking notes, some of them occasionally jolting back to semi-alertness after nodding off momentarily.

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It Takes an AVID Village

By Darral Sessions, AVID Elective Teacher and Co-Coordinator, Coleman Middle School

All my life, I have heard the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” As a teacher, I have seen how important it is for each student to have a village to call their own. Just this year, our school officially became a Title I school, and we strive every day to overcome the challenges that our students and their families face. We also have many ELL students, sometimes complicating our communication between school and home. Our AVID site team decided to focus heavily on family nights this year, hoping to make these events special, amazing, and meaningful. We knew that we needed to increase parent involvement in the college-readiness process. We needed to strengthen our village.

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Help Keep All Students from Becoming a Statistic 

By Gregory Heinecke, Curriculum Specialist and WICOR Trainer, Elk River Area School District, Minnesota

According to Los Angeles Times writer Kenneth Turan, “Sixty-eight percent of public university students do not graduate in four years, and forty-four percent do not make it out in six.” I offer that a schoolwide AVID approach not only prepares students for college, but it also lays the foundation for them to be successful—to avoid being a statistic.

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