At the Jan. 21 meeting of the Peninsula School District Board of Directors, I learned from groups of students at Peninsula High and Key Peninsula Middle School that AVID stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination, and it is having great results with students.
“I wish every student who doesn’t feel they are fulfilling their potential could get a chance to be in AVID,” said PHS freshman Kai Shultz. “It has helped me not just to be a better student but also a better person. Without AVID I would not be well prepared for college and I wouldn’t have such a good handle on my future.”
Having known Shultz as a baby, that hit home.
Classmate Braeden Potter said, “AVID taught me what family is and showed me that you have to work harder, and when you fail, work still harder.” Quoting basketball great Michael Jordan, Potter added, “I’ve failed over and over in my life, and that is why I succeed.”
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For more than 30 years the guiding principle for AVID, a global nonprofit organization, has been: Hold students accountable to the highest standards, provide academic and social support, and they will rise to the challenge. AVID’s kindergarten through higher education system brings research-based curriculum and strategies to students to develop critical thinking, literacy and math skills in all areas.
Former PSD board member Wendy Wojtanowicz’s role in AVID is that of a site coordinator for Communities In Schools.
“We find and coordinate community volunteers to facilitate discussion during students’ small group time where the group as a whole helps discover answers,” Wojtanowicz said.
Freshman Ashley Gonsalves, quoting Nelson Mandela, said, “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.”
“AVID is my weapon, and it will help me change my life and strive for greatness,” Gonsalves said.
“It’s an opportunity for students to know that college or more education of any kind is accessible to them,” Wojtanowicz said. “That it is within their reach regardless of their family or financial situation. It gives them tools to research, explore, find resources and reach their full potential. In so doing, they develop relationships with classmates, mentors and teachers.”
AVID trains educators to prepare students for success in high school, college and career, especially students traditionally underrepresented in higher education. It develops a sense of hope for achievement through hard work and determination. Policymakers and educators consider AVID’s mission essential to closing the achievement gap, making college access and success available to all students.
“Everybody in AVID has their own goals in life,” noted freshman TJ O’Toole, “but we all have the same ultimate goal of going to college. AVID is helping us achieve that goal.”
Classmate Julieta Ortiz said, “AVID has helped me focus on my future goals from organization to study habits. It’s like my second family, always there to support my decision or help me strive to what I want to accomplish.”
Program administrators are looking for community members interested in spending one hour, two days a week to help with this program.
“Volunteers do not need to know the answers, they just facilitate students’ conversations and take notes,” Wojtanowicz said. “It’s fun and a privilege to watch students grow and be excited about seeing their college goals as reality.”
Thanks, Peninsula School District, for making AVID available to our kids!
Hugh McMillan is a longtime contributing writer for the Gateway. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.