Hard Work and College Dreams: AVID Supports Both

Governor McDonnell says that Virginia needs 100,000 additional college degrees over the next fifteen years to develop and sustain a globally competitive workforce. Former Governor Tim Kaine and Former President Bush held a similar perspective. President Obama made this work a cornerstone of his most recent State of the Union speech.

Monticello High School Grads

If there’s one area of agreement among politicians, the business community, educators and community members, it’s that we need to educate all young learners to higher levels than ever. Unbelievably in the United States, this current generation of high school graduates will be the first in our nation’s educational history to be less educated than the generations ahead of them. At a time when we need to accelerate the numbers of students completing higher education, we are seeing a drop in the percentage of grads finishing college. The rest of the world is leaving the U.S. behind.

The opportunity to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to attend and successfully complete college provides young people with the chance to fulfill career dreams and aspirations. With that gift comes a learning responsibility to do the work necessary to successfully graduate from high school. The AVID program, Advancement Via Individual Determination, provides students who likely will be the first-generation in their families to attend college with the support they need to learn, practice, and use the skills they need to be college ready.

This nationally recognized program has been phased in as an elective course offering at Monticello, Western Albemarle and Albemarle High Schools and in four of five middle schools. It’s a priority to have AVID in place in all secondary schools within the next two years because we believe it’s important for all students to receive access to the school work that’s a prerequisite to college admission.  However, some ask why do we need to provide AVID electives to students?

Despite a parent’s desire that their child enter college, students whose parents did not attend college often lack the skills they need to demonstrate academic responsibility in school and at home. They don’t have the advantage of a parent who knows the ropes of what’s needed to be prepared for college. Tasks such as homework completion, note-taking capability and use of study skills are just the tip of the iceberg of what students need to be successful. AVID teachers reinforce and teach these basic skills, and many others, to students enrolled in the program.

AVID students must take higher levels of courses than they’ve ever been challenged to complete in school. They learn about colleges and universities all over the United States and the requirements for college acceptance. They visit local colleges and meet with counselors. When they approach their senior year, AVID students work on college essays, research potential scholarships, complete college applications, learn about federal loan applications, and study for SATs.  Their teachers expect AVID students to work hard; to do whatever it takes to reach success.

The Board and staff of Albemarle County Public Schools believe in the power of young people to achieve any dream they desire. We also know that attaining dreams takes effort and hard work. The AVID program teaches our learners how to dream of college and careers for the future. The teachers of AVID also teach students the skills they need to meet college expectations. They know dreams provide the reason for working hard and working hard helps learners fulfill their dreams.

Dreams and hard work – it’s the fuel that makes our community, our state, and our nation into what we label “the land of opportunity.”  Our first AVID seniors have begun to hear acceptances from colleges.  Every acceptance letter is a win for the student and a win for our investment in AVID. As our AVID students enter college, we plan to follow them to determine their success beyond high school.

According to www.avid.org, the AVID program serves about 400,000 students in nearly 4,500 schools in 47 states, the District of Columbia, and 16 countries and territories. While proof of the program’s effectiveness is supported by data, Albemarle County’s eighth grade AVID students from Jack Jouett Middle School say it best through poetry:

We are Advancing Via Individual Determination.

We believe that anything is possible if we apply ourselves.

We hear words of encouragement as we work towards reaching our full potential.

We see each other’s continuous growth towards a future that is promising.

We are Advancing Via Individual Determination.

We strive for perfection knowing that it is unattainable and understand that grades are not the only thing that determines our success.

We feel that we have the capacity to change not only ourselves but our families, our schools and our community.

We create an environment of trust and support for one another and know that AVID is a family.

We worry about not meeting our potential but realize that failure to do so is not an option.

We challenge each other to meet AVID’s expectations and to be positive role models for others.

We are Advancing Via Individual Determination.

We acknowledge that AVID is here to push us and provide us with support, but that true success takes individual effort and a lot of hard work.

We contribute to our society by knowing that we can positively influence the future.

We commit to focus on academics and growth even when faced with adversity.

We hope that we are planting the seeds of success and that AVID can be something that can help all students reach their goals.

We dream of the day that we will see the proud faces of our parents as we walk across the stage to receive our college degrees.

We are the 8th grade AVID class at Jack Jouett Middle School and we are Advancing Via Individual Determination.

UVA Graduation