New Mexico Teacher of the Year Debra Minyard of White Rock and two of her Pojoaque Valley High School students, sisters Adriana and Analise Lopez, shared their experiences in the AVID Educational Program with the Los Alamos School Board at Tuesday’s regular meeting.
Minyard teaches band at Pojoaque Valley High School. She also teaches the AVID elective.
AVID, Advancement Via Individual Determination, is a global nonprofit organization dedicated to closing the achievement gap by preparing all students for college and other postsecondary opportunities. especially students traditionally underrepresented in higher education.
Established more than 30 years ago, today AVID impacts more than 800,000 students in 44 states and 16 countries or territories. AVID is both an academic program and support network for students.
According to its website, AVID’s goals include:
- Teach skills and behaviors for academic success
- Provide intensive support with tutorials and strong student/teacher relationships
- Create a positive peer group for students
- Develop a sense of hope for personal achievement gained through hard work and determination
AVID is an elective class at Pojoaque Valley High School. There are 25-30 students in each class, Minyard said. The students learn skills such as note-taking, how to give a public presentation and how to write a term paper. They also receive tutoring when they need it.
“It’s High School 101,” Minyard said. “No one teaches you how to go to school.”
The class also teaches students how to apply to college and for financial aid.
Analise was a senior this year and she said AVID was invaluable to her in applying to college.
“I started AVID in middle school,” Analise said. “It was a safe place.”
Students form tight bonds with each other that help them navigate through the ups and downs of middle and high school, she said. Adriana added that the class was “like a family.” Everyone encourages everyone else, she said.
“Without AVID, some of us would hesitate to take difficult classes,” Analise said. “We know we can get help if we need it.”
She said the training on how to be an effective student was the reason she was able to take AP classes and succeed in them.
Analise said she is proud that every student in her AVID class was accepted at a four-year college. The success of the program as a whole is obvious from statistics on the AVID website. Ninety-two percent of seniors in the program completed four-year college entrance requirements. Seventy-seven percent completed one or more “rigorous” classes, which means AP-type classes. Ninety-nine percent graduated on time with an average GPA of 3.2. A total of 78 percent were accepted into a four-year college.
Many teachers at Pojoaque Valley High School receive training in AVID methods, whether or not they plan to teach the elective. When teachers return from training, they have made a commitment to share what they learned with other teachers
“AVID has revolutionized my teaching,” Minyard said.
All the members of the School Board expressed admiration for the program and its achievements in Pojoaque.
“This program is something we may want to think about,” Board President Jim Hall said.