Riversprings Middle School and Wakulla Middle School both earned the honor of being named a “School-wide Site of Distinction” due to their outstanding use of AVID (Advancement via Individual Determination) strategies throughout their schools.
For the 2016-17 school year, there were 6,200 AVID schools nationally, and only 174 earned the “School-wide Site of Distinction” title.
“In Florida, only 15 schools made the list, and RMS and WMS earned two of those slots. They are also the only schools in Florida’s Panhandle to make the list,” says Katherine Spivey, AVID District Director for Wakulla County Schools.
AVID 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 6,500 schools in 44 states and 16 countries, impacting over 900,000 students. Many of the AVID students are the first in their family to graduate from college.
AVID strategies have been so successful for AVID students that both RMS and WMS are now considered AVID school-wide sites because they offer career and college preparatory strategies to all of their students.
“Just a few of the requirements to being named an ‘AVID School-wide Site of Distinction’ are placing students in rigorous high school courses with support and designing a master schedule that creates these opportunities for all students to earn this kind of preparation for high school, career, and college success,” says Spivey.
Another requirement includes the opportunity to take pre-college entrance exams from the same companies that make the ACT (American College Test) and SAT (Scholastic Assessment Test).
“We try to make sure that all of our students are prepared for the rigor of high school classes,” says RMS Principal Michele Yeomans. “When our students go to Wakulla High, they should not shy away from taking harder classes like Advanced Placement Statistics or TCC Dual Enrollment courses that might open career doors for them.”
Adds WMS Principal Tolar Griffin, “We try to involve as many teachers and administrators as we can with our AVID Site Team. All subject areas are represented, and students have their say as well on the team. We try to listen and learn new ways to help all of our students achieve their full potential.”
Another component of AVID that RMS and WMS put into action is community service. On Dr. Seuss Day, March 2, Riversprings Middle School AVID students went to read Dr. Seuss books to Shadeville Elementary students. Likewise, Wakulla Middle AVID students read to Medart Elementary students.
Additionally, most of the RMS and WMS teachers use WICOR strategies from AVID: Writing for understanding complex issues; Inquiry, as in critical thinking skills; Collaboration with other students in study groups; Organizational skills to manage schoolwork, extra-curriculars, home life, jobs, etc.; and Reading skills to improve comprehension of difficult texts.
The AVID Site Coordinator at RMS is teacher Kelly Dykes. At WMS, teacher Amanda Hofheinz is the AVID Site Coordinator. These teachers gathered and submitted the data required for each school to earn the “School-wide Site of Distinction” designation.
“These strategies for success like organizational skills and making good choices can be applied to anything our students want to accomplish in their careers and in furthering their education,” says Superintendent Bobby Pearce. “Congratulations to RMS and WMS for earning the AVID ‘School-wide Site of Distinction’ honor.”