AVID aids students in future college endeavors

Archie Williams sophomore Yumea Sakai and AVID teacher Kathleen Brennan work together during Tutorial.
Archie Williams sophomore Yumea Sakai and AVID teacher Kathleen Brennan work together during Tutorial.
Elliot Smith

For nearly 45 years, the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program has been preparing students for their next steps in life. Originating in San Diego, California in 1980, AVID is now offered at more than 7,000 schools nationwide, including Archie Williams. The program aids in preparing students for four-year colleges and universities, and provides resources and support to students during high school.

The AVID program has a class catered to each grade level. If students join the program as a freshman, and stay in until their senior year, they will have the same teacher for all four years. Most students join AVID for extra support in current classes; the program also helps students go through the college application process.

AVID’s mission also supports teachers in becoming comfortable with efficient teaching methods.

The program uses teaching methods that modify expectations and increase learning opportunities for students. AVID encourages teachers to build relationships with students in order to improve learning productivity. 

When a teacher enters the program, they begin by teaching a freshman AVID class. The teacher then continues with this same class of students until the class graduates. AVID utilizes this system to create strong bonds between teachers and students throughout the progression of their high school careers.

Archie Williams AVID instructor Raquel Nelson has been teaching for 25 years, and is currently instructing juniors in her third year in the AVID program. Due to the structure of the AVID’s system, Nelson has taught the same class for all three of her years in the program. She believes that AVID teaching strategies significantly impact her and her students, benefitting the quality of education in her classroom.

“I would say philosophically, AVID has helped me to really understand the importance of making my teaching practices more equitable. I want all of my students to have the same opportunities when they leave my class, and I don’t want any doors to be closed to them,” Nelson said.

AVID boasts an emphasis on strong relationships between students and teachers in high school. Junior and third-year AVID student Jack Podboy enjoys how the program prepares him for his classes. Jack has Raquel Nelson as his AVID teacher, and is grateful for her mentorship in the class. 

“Over the years, I have definitely been going back [to AVID] because of Mrs. Nelson. She has been a great teacher… She is always ready to help me out with anything,” Jack said.

AVID’s research-based teaching strategies aim to help students who may lack educational resources, inside and outside of school. According to the AVID website, 86 percent of students in the program belong to underrepresented racial or ethnic groups, 75 percent have a low socioeconomic status, and 56 percent have parents without college experience. 

Equity is central to the program’s belief system. AVID aims to create an equitable environment where every student can reach their full potential. AVID to create an equal environment to fully prepare each of their students for college and beyond.

According to the AVID website, “First-generation, low-income AVID alumni who go to college are four times more likely to graduate than their national peers,” along with “AVID programs in every high school environment produce college-ready students at rates that far exceed national benchmarks.”

Students often enroll in the program for assistance with their college applications. Preparing for college can easily overwhelm high school students, and AVID aims to take pressure off students and boost their confidence as they approach college. 

“I was really pulled in by the fact that it prepares you really well for college. That was something I was really nervous about going into college preparation. It has so far been incredibly helpful with college,” said Archie Williams junior and third-year AVID student Stella Smoot.    

AVID helps students stand out in college applications, encouraging students to participate in extracurriculars, and promotes community service. Additionally, AVID sets aside time for students to construct their college resumes in class, strengthening college applications. According to AVID data 78% of AVID seniors in California were accepted to a four year college in the 2020-2021 school year. 

Through the AVID program, junior and second-year AVID student Ryan Seely volunteers at Brookside Elementary school.

“[AVID] gives you the opportunity to go to schools and practice your community service, just having that in your college applications is a really good thing to have. I think it’s really nice that [AVID] supports you with that,” Ryan said.

The Tamalpais Union High School District (TUHSD) primarily funds AVID, along with financial support from the Falcon Foundation, an Archie Williams parent community. The support from both TUHSD and the Falcon Foundation allows the program to have field trips on college tours, supplies, and professional development.

“I am incredibly grateful that the Falcon Foundation financially supports AVID. They have been very generous. They have increased our funding from $10,000  to $15,000,” Nelson said.

While the community funding has grown in the last few years, Nelson believes that if the district truly wants the program to thrive, the district financial needs to increase as well. Nelson wishes that the district provided more money for teachers’ professional development and AVID supplies, and believes that with more financial support, students in the program will be able to have more strategic support and opportunities both during and after high school.

“If AVID is a priority for our district, then that should be seen in the funding of it,” Nelson said.

AVID aims to create more equitable learning environments by increasing learning productivity, making applying to college easier, and creating connections with all the students in the program. 

AVID’s goal is to make sure that all of their students are confident when they apply for college. AVID students find the program special because of their connection with their teacher, the AVID community, and the support that they receive.

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