Advancement Via Individual Determination, or AVID, was a program developed in California in 1980 to help middle-achieving students improve. Since then, it has branched out to schools in 45 states and 16 countries.
East Ridge Middle School in Clermont is one of those, and its success rate has earned it the designation of a National Demonstration School, fit for coaching, training and guiding other schools. East Ridge was awarded the designation earlier last week by a national AVID validation team from California.
“Schools chosen as demonstration sites have proven their ability to successfully implement the AVID academic elective course and take the strategies school-wide to impact all students,” AVID Chief Executive Officer Sandy Husk said.
East Ridge is only the eighth AVID school out of 461 in Florida to receive the designation, and the 141st out of 4,900 AVID schools worldwide.
“That tells you the level of quality you are doing here at this school,” said Cathy Simmons, the state director of AVID. “You’re one of the elite guys, the best of the best, and it takes leadership from students, teachers and principals.”
AVID helps students by teaching, and reinforcing study and organizational skills. Instructors and tutors encourage them to take more challenging courses, not only for success in grade school, but with an eye toward college.
The validation team spent an entire day touring classrooms and talking with students, teachers, mentors and tutors before making recommendations. The protocol was part of the last step in the validation process, which has taken about 18 months for the school to complete.
Lake County School Superintendent Susan Moxley called the designation a “stellar accomplishment,” while School Board Member Debbie Stivender beamed.
“How grateful we are and how proud we are of how dedicated to this you all were,” Stivender said. “You just rock. That’s all there is to it.”
East Ridge, which joined AVID in 2009, had a grade passage rate last year of between 97-99 percent, said Kelly Cousineau, the school’s original AVID coordinator.
“I’ve been fortunate in my career to be able to start and support a program I’m passionate about,” she said. “I’m glad I was given the freedom to think AVID was the biggest and most important thing in the world when I first started, because to me, it was. I think I was able to help grow it because of that.”
Cousineau, who now shares the duties of coordinator with Melody Clark, who heads the sixth-grade program, said it has taken a lot of commitment for the entire team to meet every month and get vested in the program.
“Our successful, two-year journey required shared leadership, strong consistency and continuous innovation,” she said of the validation process. “We were excited to celebrate with our district leaders, various school principals, staff, AVID Center friends, students, parents, and tutors. Now we have to keep it going. That’s our goal.”