The Road to Becoming an AVID Demonstration School
The AVID program began at Trexler Middle School in 2004 when Mrs. Jackson, then AP of Richlands High School, presented the program to our staff. The program uses research based methods of effective instruction, and targets students "in the middle" who have a desire to go to college, but need extra support to be successful in advanced high school classes. Ms. Deans, our principal, had a vision of changing our school culture and the community. As a small farming community, we traditionally had a small number of students entering college upon high school graduation, but she wanted to help change Richlands to a college going culture, where all students saw their potential of going to college. This program would bring about that change. We would become a feeder program for AVID at RHS and together we would begin the process of building a college going culture in our prospective schools and ultimately, our community.
Trexler started with one AVID elective teacher, and a site team that consisted of 3 core teachers and 2 administrators. We started with one seventh grade class and one eighth grade class. That year was a learning experience for everyone. We started the year with the theme "Dreams of Determination" and each grade level chose a college conference to represent. Teachers were minimally introduced to AVID strategies, the one binder system, and Cornell notes. We thought we were on our way to "Avidizing" our school.
Over the next few years, more sections of the AVID elective were added to our schedules for seventh and eighth grades, and more AVID strategies were introduced to the staff to implement into their curriculums. Slowly, we began to see the AVID students become a family and support network for each other. They were growing, asking more questions in class, being more vocal about their education, being more organized and test scores were on the rise. We saw an annual increase of parent participation, community service activities and an increase of interest in the AVID program among staff, students, parents, and the community.
Along the path to "Avidizing" our school, we faced several obstacles. First, we had one elective teacher, then two, back to one, then two again. We struggled finding the right "fit" for our school. Buy-in from staff members came slow. We struggled with getting students in the most rigorous course of study available to them, especially with the Algebra component for our eighth graders. Then change happened. Mrs. Jackson came to our school as our new principal, and changes were made to our program. We revamped the AVID program to include all grade levels and scheduled it during our enrichment period where more teachers would be involved in teaching the AVID elective class. Our eighth graders were placed in Algebra, and the academic growth of our students began to increase.
Over the years, as the program grew, we were able to secure the support of more staff members who attended Summer Institute. These AVID trained teachers had a new insight to the program and what our school could become. Each year we sent four to six members of our staff to training. While in a transient community, we maintained a well balanced team of trained teachers. The site team became stronger, and more determined to see success among the program and our student's achievement, but not just the AVID students, the entire student body. With the direction and support of our district leaders and administration, we had finally began seeing success with Avidizing our school. Teachers were immersed in AVID strategies through staff development presented by the site team which now consisted of core and elective teachers from each discipline. Teachers were rejuvenated in their teaching. Students were being challenged with a more rigorous curriculum, and higher expectations had been set for all students due the integration of AVID methodologies. Everyone in the school exhibited willingness to change and that brought about a new atmosphere at Trexler Middle School.
In the beginning, we tried to create that college going culture, but students did not yet realize their potential and that college was a possibility for them. Now, with our school experiencing a college explosion, students are surrounded by reminders that college can be and should be in their future. Every student is exposed to colleges and universities on a daily basis with school wide staff university recognition, bulletin boards, murals painted in common areas, and road signs that direct students to think college and promote AVID methodologies. Students were included in this explosion as they created locker magnets to represent their favorite college or university. During enrichment classes, students were asked to set goals about where they wanted to be after high school, and bulletin boards were created to show which college they wanted to attend. These additions to our program have brought about dialog between staff and students about college and have increased student excitement about furthering their education upon high school graduation.
All of these changes were validated on May 19, 2011, as a team of National AVID Administrators visited our school and stated, "Trexler Middle School exemplifies a school wide approach to AVID: a culture of support and high expectations for the students, and a clearly articulated common language and common set of expectations for academic work throughout the school." They found a staff focused on challenging and supporting student success, and that exhibited the belief that all students can go to college. It was evident on their visit that academic rigor was and is a top priority among staff and students. We had accomplished our goal; we had successfully "Avidized" Trexler Middle School as we were named the next National AVID Demonstration School.