Preparing our students for college

Dr. Sylvester Perez1

May 14, 2012

Dear SAISD Staff,

Many of you have likely heard about a college readiness program called AVID, Advancing Via Individual Determination. Well, Jefferson High School and Longfellow Middle School have done such as stand-up job of implementing that program at their schools and preparing students for college that they were each designated as an AVID National Demonstration School this month.

Representatives of schools from across the country can come and visit Jefferson and Longfellow to see AVID’s methodologies and strategies implemented successfully throughout the schools. The two model campuses are among only 124 schools in the country – and the only ones in our region – to hold the designation, which was awarded after a rigorous validation process. So, I want to take a moment to say thank you to the dedicated students and staff at those campuses for a job well done.

I have long been a supporter of AVID and what it has to offer students. I was glad to see, when I came on board, that the program is in place at 26 of our schools. SAISD has the expectation that all students will graduate prepared for higher education, and AVID is helping to achieve that by offering support through an elective course in middle schools and high schools. And it’s important to note that all schools can use AVID-like strategies; they do not have to be official AVID sites to adopt these methods that lead to student success.

Students who take the AVID course learn organizational and study skills, work on critical thinking and inquiry and receive academic help from peers and college tutors. In AVID, the goal is to raise the bar by placing students in challenging courses, outside of the elective class, and introducing them to a new kind of peer culture, one that is based on support and collaboration. Teachers feel that challenging courses that stretch and stimulate bring out the best in students. Students rise to the challenge, becoming more driven, more organized and focused, and arguably, more responsible.

These are the types of skills and attributes that catch the eye of today’s employers, who are demanding the same critical-thinking, higher math and excellent communication skills required by college admission officers. Having acquired these essential skills and knowledge, students will be better off in whichever path they choose after high school – whether that takes them to a college or university, the military or directly into the workforce.

Best regards,
Dr. Sylvester Perez
Interim Superintendent