December 7, 2018
Riversprings Middle School was approved to renew its status as an AVID (Advancement via Individual Determination) National Demonstration School after earning the title for the first time three years ago.
In the 2015-2016 school year, RMS was one of only 152 middle schools in the United States to achieve AVID National Demonstration School status. In Florida, there were only seven middle schools earning national recognition.
AVID is an internationally successful non-profit college prep program that began in the 1980s with one teacher in one classroom. She 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.
One goal is to target students who have the drive and desire to go to college, but who may not be recommended for advanced classes. These are capable students who are taught strategies to succeed in a rigorous curriculum.
Says RMS Principal Michele Yeomans, “AVID is not about just getting into college. It’s about being prepared to stay there and graduate, then going on to have successful careers. In going for National Demonstration status three years ago, we learned that all of our students should have access to these effective strategies for academic and social success, not just AVID students.”
National Demonstration Schools use effective AVID strategies for everyone, school-wide. They also serve as visitation sites for schools who want to implement or improve their AVID programs.
RMS was initially selected through an application process, screening, and review that included a site visit from AVID state and national representatives.
The role of AVID District Co-Directors is shared by Principal Yeomans working with middle and high schools, and Medart Assistant Principal Katherine Spivey working with the elementary schools.
Spivey also helped coordinate the original work towards National Demonstration School for RMS as District Director, and was both an AVID teacher and an AVID Site Coordinator at Wakulla Middle School.
RMS AVID Site Coordinator Kelly Dykes teaches the AVID elective class to some 7th and 8th graders and helps train other teachers in AVID strategies.
RMS band director Luke McManus also teaches an 8th grade AVID class, and science teacher Richard Wallace teaches a 6th grade AVID elective class.
All the RMS teachers train on how to apply AVID strategies in their specific subject areas.
AVID also encourages field trips to colleges, guest speakers on careers, and parental involvement.
“We have great teachers who have been through a lot of AVID professional development courses, and they have all contributed to our schoolwide goal of engaging students in their own teaching and learning processes,” adds Yeomans.
Says Superintendent Bobby Pearce, “If strategies work for some, we want to share these best practices with as many teachers and students as we can. Every tool our students acquire can only help them be more successful with college, technical training, career opportunities, and problem-solving in general.”