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.
AVID strategies are taught school wide; in addition, a college prep support class in 8th and 9th grades prepares students for the rigors of Honors, Advanced Placement, and college dual enrollment classes that they have the opportunity to take in high school. Students were recommended for AVID elective classes by their teachers. A total of 75 students will be enrolled in AVID for 2009-2010.
The goal is to target students who have the drive and desire to go to college, but 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.
“We do so much for our top students who do not need this kind of support, and so much for our struggling students. Now AVID will offer more hard-working, capable students better preparation for college,” states Superintendent Miller. “It’s not as much about getting into college as it is about being successful once they are there.”
From June 28 through July 2, 2009, Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Beth O’Donnell took 24 middle school and high school teachers to AVID training in Orlando, paid for through the Florida Partnership grant. Riversprings Middle, Wakulla Middle, and Wakulla High School each sent a team of 8 who attended five days of college prep, higher-order thinking seminars in the areas of math, science, language arts, social studies, and guidance counseling for college.
The AVID elective classes will be taught by Donna Sullivan at RMS, Katherine Spivey at WMS, and Nancy Floyd Richardson at WHS. They will 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 deeper understanding of their academic subjects. What they will not do is give students the answers or tutor them in the traditional sense. Students will learn how to find their own answers, since they are on their own in college.
AVID Summer Institute RMS attendees were: 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 attendees were: Principal Mike Barwick and teachers Katherine Spivey, Sue Hutchins, Joe Rozanski, Lucile Graham, Bridgett Lee, Jerry Edmonston, and Karen Sanders.
WHS attendees were: Principal Mike Crouch, Assistant Principal for Curriculum 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 will receive AVID strategies training throughout the school year. Teachers will find that AVID employs many strategies they already use, such as when teaching critical thinking, writing, math, and reading comprehension skills.
“AVID really brings together all the higher-order questioning skills that we have been training teachers on, from Advanced Placement summer institutes to Kaplan ACT/SAT college entrance exam prep workshops, also funded by the College Board grant,” observes Wakulla High School Principal Mike Crouch.
For more information, contact Assistant Superintendent for Instruction Beth O’Donnell at 926-0065.