"I'm going to be the first one in my family to go to college," said Bryan Morales-Rodriguez, a North Marion Middle School seventh grader recently.
NMMS Principals Tami Badinger and David Sheldon are keenly interested in helping every student thrive and pursue their dreams for the future, including Morales-Rodriguez. In fact, you might even say Badinger and Sheldon are avid about it.
Badinger worked to bring the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) to NMMS, and she is now the AVID district director of the North Marion branch of a nationwide program that focuses on career and college success. AVID offers both schoolwide resources and opportunities galore for all students.
There is an AVID elective class for students seeking to fulfill their full potential using AVID learning strategies. What's more, the plan is to expand the program to the entire School District, opening up additional support and college and career advantages to all North Marion students.
"My role is to ensure the school's fidelity to the AVID Systems and to help AVID grow schoolwide," Badinger said. "I want to improve teaching, learning and performance for all the students at NMMS and, ultimately, for all students in the district. I'm able to participate in regional AVID meetings to network with other district directors to help refine our practices in the North Marion School District."
Badinger has assembled an AVID site team including Sheldon, site coordinator John Young, AVID elective teacher/instructional coach Chelsea Landry, math teacher and AVID instructional coach Amanda Kahle, science teacher Craig Johnston, English Language Development teacher Scott McGuyer, and counselor Kelsey Brown, who is offering college and career resources.
The schoolwide support this team offers includes help with organization (a binder organization system and assignment planner checks), tips for better note-taking and writing, and activities for reading.
"The use of and planning centered around these AVID resources allows for streamlining skill and activity instruction and also provides staff with the opportunity to preview collections of high-leverage strategies," said Young, who also taught AVID courses this past summer, along with McGuyer. "In these ways, big and small, 100% of North Marion students are already benefiting from AVID."
AVID advances the same strategies taught in different classes through WICOR, an acronym encompassing writing, inquiry, collaboration, organization and reading WICOR, said Landry, who teaches the AVID elective class.
"This helps students and teachers with clarity of expectations and means that there aren't seven different ways to take notes, organize work, etc.," Landry said.
What students are saying
A few of Landry's AVID students say they love the skills that the class is offering them. Morales-Rodriguez said the class really prepares students for their post-high school lives.
His classmate, Eman Hussein, said that the beauty of AVID is that "it's fun, but, at the same time, it helps."
"I really enjoy it," Hussein and Rodriguez's seventh grade classmate Victoria Valenzuela agreed. "I think it will really help me in the long run to prepare for my future, like help me to get organized, so I can do well in other classes in middle school, also high school, also college."
There's also a social aspect to the program, which will serve students well with group projects at work and at school.
"We're learning a lot, talking to each other and learning skills in working with other people we haven't met yet and working together as a group," seventh grader Trenton Righter said.
Ella Stoddard says developing teamwork skills will help with future success, and her sights are set on the horizon.
"AVID teaches me more stuff about going to college because, lately, that's what I want to do," Stoddard said.
North Marion isn't the only AVID school in the state, but fewer than half of the school districts and one-third of the schools are in the AVID program. AVID came to Oregon in 2004 and is now present in 70 school districts, with 303 sites.
"AVID is centered around career and college success, and, to that end, dovetails — I think — with North Marion's mission to educate students to global standards," Young said. "In an accelerating information and high-skill economy situated in a hyperconnected world, the need for advanced training beyond secondary school grows more important by the day."
There were 70 AVID school districts in Oregon (out of 197 school districts and 19 education service districts) implementing AVID during the 2020-21 school year. AVID is now present in 303 out of the about 1,200 public K-12 schools: 215 secondary schools, 11 elementary/secondary schools, and 77 elementary schools.
AVID also has been implemented in more than 7,000 schools in 47 states across the United States, as well as schools in the Department of Defense Education, Canada and Australia.
"AVID offers the opportunity for the North Marion Middle School staff and students to systematically, thoughtfully and decisively orient the educational and institutional culture of North Marion Middle School toward the mindsets and skills necessary to thrive in the global standard," Young said.
Young also notes that the five-year AVID implementation plan that NMMS school leaders are initiating demonstrates "an ambitious, realistic, and steadfast commitment to the AVID program."
"The AVID program offers a robust, longstanding and evidenced-based approach to improving student outcomes and that support for AVID at NMMS, as with any pedagogical approach, is rooted in the desire for children to maximize their potential growth and performance while at school," Young said.
This opportunity has the potential to stretch across campus, encompassing all four schools in the North Marion School District, not only the middle school but also the high school and the K-5 students at the primary and intermediate levels.
"As a district director one of my goals is to bring AVID to the high school and ultimately to the elementary schools," Badinger said. "I will facilitate districtwide opportunities for staff, students and community members to visit AVID classrooms and events, so they understand and witness firsthand what AVID is and what AVID does for students. At its heart, AVID upholds the belief that all students can grow as learners and pursue their dreams for college and career. Just look at its full name: Advancement Via Individual Determination."
And, too, look at AVID students, already dreaming of college after only a few weeks in the class.
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