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The program focuses on organization, study skills, perseverance and planning

CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Crook County elementary schools will offer AVID program beginning this school year.

Thanks to a $60,000 grant from the Miller Foundation, AVID will expand to local elementary schools this year.

Advancement Via Individual Determination is a global nonprofit organization that helps schools shift to a more equitable, student-centered approach. AVID strives to close the achievement gap by preparing all students for college or other post-secondary opportunities.

"It's a great program that helps compliment a lot of our current practices in order to inspire and equip all students to be successful with whatever their path may be after they graduate high school," said AVID District Director Joel Hoff.

The Crook County School District is entering its fourth year of the program.

"The first grant from Nike was a leap of faith," said CCSD Director of Curriculum and Instruction Stacy Smith. "They gave all the area high schools an amount of money to begin training."

Seeing the success of the AVID program at both Crook County Middle School and Crook County High School, last winter, the district applied for a grant to expand the AVID program to the elementary school level, this time through the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation. The school district received the $60,030 grant on Feb. 12.

The funds will be spread out over three years and will train teachers and provide access to AVID curriculum.

Thanks to this funding, 14 Barnes Butte Elementary and 11 Crooked River Elementary upper elementary grade-level teachers and other staff members attended a three-day training in late June in Anaheim, California. Additionally, four CCMS staff and 11 CCHS staff received AVID training.

BBE Principal Jim Bates received the training and is full-steam ahead to implement AVID when school starts next month.

"Mindset and strategies," he said. "My big takeaway for elementary — it's a great opportunity for developing early mindset about the future and an unbelievable number of effective strategies."

He pointed out that AVID at the elementary level allows for teacher ownership as well as an opportunity for teachers to take on leadership roles.

"AVID is fertile territory for educator ownership and educator leadership," Bates said, noting that those who received AVID training will model the teaching styles and encourage other teachers to use it in their own classrooms.

"Ultimately, we are trying to create students who are future minded," said CRE Principal Kimberly Bonner, adding that in addition to the growth-mindset, they will also implement the concept of perseverance and the WICOR strategy, which stands for writing, inquiry, collaboration, organization and reading.

"Focused notetaking means you're going back and you're re-interacting with your notes to build upon things. We're really going to focus on organization, as well," Bonner said. "It's effective teaching that deepens understanding."

Between 2015 and 2018, Nike granted the district $55,594 to train CCMS and CCHS staff. Last school year, those teachers used AVID strategies school-wide.

The principals agree that implementing AVID now at the elementary level will benefit all stakeholders.

"It's a huge opportunity for us to be able to have a common language and to bring K-12 together," Bates said, adding that the middle and high schools will eventually be able to provide feedback to the elementary schools.

Hoff reported that CCHS students who completed AVID elective classes had better attendance, state English test scores and graduation rates. They also were more likely to have plans for after graduation, whether it be college, trade school or the workforce.

Plans call for training more staff over the next couple of years to be able to implement AVID district-wide at all grade levels and schools.

"Teachers are excited about it, we're excited about it, and the students benefit from our excitement," Bonner said. "If teachers are excited about it, kids will be too."

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