A new program in two Peninsula School District schools is helping to bring college readiness within the reach of its students.
The program is called AVID — Advancement Via Individual Determination — and it is a favorite among the teachers and students in the two schools currently running the program, Key Peninsula Middle School and Peninsula High School.
The program is targeted at students who might otherwise not attend college, said KPMS Principal Jeri Goebel.
“AVID looks to give ‘middle’ kids ... (an) equal opportunity (and) a little boost (on) how to be successful in college,” Goebel said. “It’s not a support class ... (students) have to show grit and a growth mindset.”
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AVID looks to give ‘middle’ kids...(an) equal opportunity (and) a little boost (on) how to be successful in college...It’s not a support class...(students) have to show grit and a growth mindset.
Jeri Goebel, KPMS principal
AVID was introduced to KPMS and PHS at the beginning of the school year after an intensive summer training program for teachers at both schools.
According to the AVID website, the program is targeted toward students who fall into the “academic middle” — students with B, C and sometimes D grades who want to go to college and are willing to work hard, but are lacking some of the skills they need to succeed and reach their full potential.
Often, Goebel said, these students are the first in their families to attend college, are minorities or have social or economic disadvantages that make the path to college more difficult.
Janet Eidsmoe, the AVID teacher at KPMS, is enthusiastic about the program and the positive changes she’s seen in her AVID students.
“This is the best program in all (my) years (teaching) to get kids to believe in themselves,” Eidsmoe said.
She has been teaching for 28 years, with 20 years teaching at KPMS.
(AVID) is the best program in all (my) years (teaching) to get kids to believe in themselves.
Janet Eidsmoe, AVID teacher at KPMS
Over at PHS, AVID teacher Kim Demianiw is equally enthusiastic about the program and the impact it’s had on her students.
“(AVID is) designed for students who are traditionally underserved in the college setting,” she said. “(These students) might get to college anyway but could easily not get there, too. With AVID, you keep on track to get there.”
Demianiw feels a closer connection to the program because she was a student that would have met AVID’s criteria.
“When I think back on it now I wonder how the heck did I know what to do to get there (to college)?” she said.
The often confusing maze of college applications, federal financial aid forms and other hurdles are all involved in college applications. These are just some of the topics that the AVID program prepares their students for, with the curriculum changing as students move toward graduation.
(AVID is) designed for students who are traditionally underserved in the college setting ... (These students) might get to college anyway but could easily not get there too ... with AVID you keep on track.
Kim Demianiw, AVID teacher at PHS
Currently, Demianiw has 27 ninth-graders whose current curriculum is largely based on succeeding in high school with an emphasis on organization and study skills.
The KPMS curriculum — the AVID class there is a mix of 10 seventh-graders and 20 eighth-graders — is less intense and focuses on students learning how to speak up in class, to ask questions and to have confidence in themselves.
AVID classes at both KPMS and PHS meet daily, with two days a week devoted to “tutorial,” where students bring a “point of confusion question” and figure out the answer with the help of their classmates and volunteer tutors from the community.
At both schools, AVID school-wide strategies have been implemented by administrators, who have noticed a positive change in the student populations. At PHS, the focus for all students was on binder control and organization and Cornell notes — a note-taking method that provides a systematic format for taking notes and organizing information.
KPMS has focused school-wide on college and career readiness and WICOR strategies — Writing, Inquiry, Collaboration, Organization and Reading to Learn (WICOR) — a set of teaching and learning strategies that helps teachers guide students through the curriculum and provides students with learning tools that last beyond college graduation.
AVID classes in both schools function as an elective for the students and they must apply to get into the program. Once they are accepted, they work with teachers to maintain their grades and will stay in the class, with the same teacher and group of students, or “cohort,” every year.
“It’s kind of a cool thing to see these kids from all these different backgrounds come together and ... become kind of a family,” Demianiw said of her students, who are a mix of kids from KPMS and Harbor Ridge Middle School.
I personally think that AVID teaches communication and focus skills that aren’t taught in other classes...I think that AVID should be an opportunity to everyone.
Ruby Heistey, KPMS AVID student
AVID students themselves spoke positively about the program at the Jan. 21 school board meeting.
“I personally think that AVID teaches communication and focus skills that aren’t taught in other classes,” said KPMS student Ruby Heistey. “I think that AVID should be an opportunity to everyone.”
Goebel has seen a positive change throughout the school after the introduction of the program.
“You have to partner with the parents,” Goebel said. “They have to be a part of (AVID). It really builds their knowledge, (and has) really helped improve (the school) culture.”
According to statistics provided by the AVID website for 2013-2014, 78 percent of AVID high school students were accepted to a four-year university and 99 percent graduated high school on time.
You have to partner with the parents...They have to be a part of (AVID). It really builds their knowledge...(and has) really helped improve (the school) culture.
At the Feb. 11 school board meeting, Lesha Engels, director of College & Career Readiness; John Hellwich, assistant superintendent of Learning & Teaching; and Dan Gregory, assistant superintendent of grades K to 12, followed up their Jan. 21 AVID presentation to ask the board for approval to move the program into more district schools for the coming school year.
The group reported that administrators from both schools have noticed a positive trend in the first-semester grades of their AVID students and informed the board that teachers and administrators at other PSD schools are eager to implement the program for their own students.
At the meeting, board directors voted that for the 2016-2017 school year the AVID program will continue for grades seven and eight at KPMS, a ninth- grade cohort will be added to PHS while the current class moves to tenth grade, and an eighth grade class will be introduced at Harbor Ridge Middle School.