Four Questions For: Mary Catherine Swanson

By Rob Gira, Executive Vice President, AVID Center

Mary Catherine Swanson taught high school English for 20 years. During that time she was instrumental in developing numerous award-winning language arts programs. In 1980 she developed AVID, a secondary school program that prepares underachieving students for four-year college entry. Today 95 percent of AVID graduates enroll in college. Mary Catherine created the AVID Center in 1992 to support the in-school system.

Click to read more ...


What Did You Learn at Summer Institute?

In 1989, AVID Center held its first Summer Institute (SI) with 258 educators. We’ve grown a little bit since then—more than 28,000 educators joined us at our 10 Institutes during the 2014 SI season! Our AVID Center staff is always left awestruck by the amazing teachers, counselors, administrators, and district staff who join us each summer. You inspire us, and we’re honored to be a part of your efforts to help all students succeed.

We asked five SI participants to share some of the key lessons that they learned during their professional learning at SI this year, and we want to hear from you, too!  

Click to read more ...


Loaded Questions

By Craig McKinney, AVID Teacher and Staff Developer

This painting was created for Craig by his students: Kavina Hsu, Amy Wang, and Sara Watters.

Teachers spend hours each week asking questions. We check for understanding, ensure that students completed their homework, probe for clarification, extend learning beyond the surface level, and try to determine what is wrong with that one kid who (fill in the blank). Sometimes, our questions shift their focus from the students to ourselves, as we examine our professional practices and reflect on the effectiveness of our lessons and our actions.

As we embark on a new school year with a sea of fresh faces sitting in our classrooms, I’d like to ask a few loaded questions—the type where we probably know what the right answer ought to be, but if we were honest with ourselves, would realize that the correct answer isn’t always the one we choose as we slip back into our day-to-day routines.

Click to read more ...


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.

Click to read more ...


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.

Click to read more ...