Crawfordville, Florida (Press Release) --
Superintendent David Miller advocated for Wakulla County school system to be one of Florida’s first rural districts chosen for The Florida Partnership with the College Board grant. With this grant are some incredible opportunities for middle school and high school teachers and administrators to better prepare all students for success in college.
One aspect of the grant is funding the AVID program, which stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination. It is a nationwide successful college preparation program that began in the 1980s with one teacher in one classroom who saw college potential in students who were capable but not well prepared for college, or who were not encouraged to take college prep classes.
Currently, AVID is implemented in over 4,500 schools in 45 states and 16 countries. Many of the AVID students are first in their family to graduate from college.
AVID strategies are taught school-wide; in addition, a college prep AVID support class was taught last year in 8th and 9th grades to prepare students for the rigors of Honors, Advanced Placement, and college dual enrollment classes that they have the opportunity to take in high school.
Students are recommended for AVID elective classes by their teachers. A total of 75 students were enrolled in AVID for 2009-2010. For the 2010-2011 school year, 10th grade AVID has been added for a total of 125 students.
The goal is to target students who have the drive and desire to go to college, but who may not be recommended for advanced classes because they have high grades and average FCAT scores or high FCAT scores but average grades, among other factors. They are capable students who are taught strategies to succeed in a rigorous curriculum. Good attendance and good behavior are also requirements to be in the elective class.
Noted Superintendent Miller, “AVID has proved to be a successful program. For example, over 30% of the Riversprings Middle School 8th graders who won academic awards last year were AVID students. Wakulla Middle School had over 80% of their AVID students earn a “C” or higher in Algebra I for high school credit while in 8th grade. Wakulla High School 9th graders were successful in one or more Honors classes that they may never have taken without AVID. It’s not as much about getting into college as it is about preparing our students for success once they get there.”
The AVID elective classes are taught by Donna Sullivan at RMS; Katherine Spivey at WMS; and Nancy Floyd Richardson and Brenda Hatcher at WHS. They teach students how to ask higher-order questions in their other classes, how to take better notes, how to collaborate in study groups, and generally how to seek a deeper understanding of their academic subjects. What they do not do is give students the answers or tutor them in the traditional sense. Students learn how to find their own answers, since they are on their own in college.
From July 18 through July 22, 2010, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction/AVID District Director Beth O’Donnell took 15 middle school and high school teachers and administrators to AVID training in Orlando, paid for through the Florida Partnership with the College Board grant. Riversprings Middle, Wakulla Middle, and Wakulla High School each sent a team of 5 who attended five days of college prep, higher-order thinking seminars in the areas of math, science, language arts, social studies, and administrative leadership to prepare students for college success.
AVID Summer Institute 2010 RMS attendees were: Assistant Principal Michele Baggett, and teachers Donna Sullivan, Charlotte McCormick, David McBrayer, and Bill Taylor. They add to those trained last year at the AVID Summer Institute 2009: Principal Dod Walker, Assistant Principal Michele Baggett, guidance counselor Catherine Small, and teachers Donna Sullivan, Brian Dow, Nancy Commander, Joey Jacobs, and Kristin Dow.
WMS 2010 attendees were: Principal Mike Barwick and teachers Katherine Spivey, Sue Hutchins, Rick Myhre, and Bill Peck. Also trained last summer were: Principal Mike Barwick and teachers Katherine Spivey, Sue Hutchins, Joe Rozanski, Lucile Graham, Bridgett Lee, Jerry Edmonston, and Karen Sanders.
WHS attendees 2010 were: Assistant Principal Sunny Chancy, and teachers Nancy Floyd Richardson, Brenda Hatcher, Sally Jones, and Ana Smith. Trained last summer were Principal Mike Crouch, Assistant Principal Sunny Chancy, guidance counselor Krista Millender, and teachers Nancy Floyd Richardson, Melisa Taylor, Heather Gray, Pam Smith, and Haley High.
All middle and high school teachers receive AVID strategies training throughout the school year. Teachers who have been trained conduct professional development for their peers on many strategies that use critical thinking skills with writing, math, science, social studies, and reading comprehension.
At the teachers’ Welcome Back Breakfast on August 5, 2010, four AVID students spoke to the crowd of over 400. They were Charity Wilson and Makayla Payne from WMS, Markell Rawls from RMS, and Hunter Wheatcraft form WHS.
“Their poise and confidence has skyrocketed over the last year of having AVID,” observed Superintendent Miller. “Most adults could not speak in front of a crowd of professionals that large, but they eloquently conveyed how much AVID has changed their lives.”