Riversprings Middle School students and teachers were observed by AVID District Directors from Arizona, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida as part of a leadership training on November 3, 2016.
AVID (Advancement via Individual Determination) is an internationally successful non-profit 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 5,600 schools in 44 states and 16 countries, impacting over 900,000 students. Many AVID students are the first in their families to graduate from college.
AVID began in Wakulla County schools in 2009 with just 75 students and now impacts hundreds of students in grades 6-12 at Riversprings Middle, Wakulla Middle, and Wakulla High School. Many fifth grade teachers also have been trained in AVID strategies.
Riversprings Middle School is one of only 152 schools in the United States to achieve AVID National Demonstration School status. National Demonstration Schools seek to help all students prepare for college and serve as visitation sites for schools that want to implement or improve their AVID programs.
Wakulla County AVID District Director Katherine Spivey was contacted by AVID Program Manager Travis Beverly about RMS hosting the observations due to its National Demonstration School status.
As part of the District Directors’ leadership training, the participants complete four several day sessions over a two year period. Visiting an AVID elementary school and an AVID secondary school during each session gives them a concrete idea of what successful AVID schools look like.
The recent District Director training included observing Springwood Elementary School in Leon County led by their principal Dr. Christopher Small and Riversprings Middle School in Wakulla County, under the leadership of principal Michele Yeomans. It is the first time that District Director leadership training has taken place in the Big Bend of Florida.
A favorite interaction of the observers is with student panels, where AVID students share their stories of struggles and successes, with plenty of time for the adults to ask them spontaneous questions. Then District Directors visit many classrooms, seeing AVID strategies in use no matter what the subject area being taught.
“It’s about bringing organizational skills, planning, critical thinking, writing, reading, science, and math best practices into a systematized delivery of instruction. We want to help all of our students succeed, not just the ones in the AVID elective classes,” says RMS Principal Yeomans.
RMS Site Coordinator Kelly Dykes teaches AVID elective classes along with RMS Associate Dean Stan Ward. Each AVID school also has an AVID Site Team represented by several subject area teachers.
For hosting the District Directors, RMS was awarded the cost of a registration to one of the AVID Summer Institutes, worth approximately $800. AVID schools send teams of teachers to be trained and to work out their plans for the upcoming school year every summer.
Says Superintendent Bobby Pearce, “Every proven practice we have can only help our students be more successful with graduation, college, technical training, and career opportunities. Riversprings Middle, Wakulla Middle, and Wakulla High School teachers have taken the best AVID strategies and shared them with all of their students.”