An AVID Breakdown

What Happens in the AVID Elective Classes


Ming Wong

Sophomore AVID teacher Ken Beiser’s AVID class working on an online assignment on Apr. 27. Beiser’s assignment on careers aligns with AVID’s goal of preparing students to be successful after high school.

Poor grades. Lack of academic focus. Senior Billy France-Bagwell says he was part of Memorial Middle School’s first Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) class; West started offering AVID in 2015. Though saying he left AVID his junior year due to school being online, he decided to return to AVID his senior year after realizing the impact the program has had on him.

“Before I entered AVID, I was failing almost all my classes. I didn’t really care about school. It wasn’t my top priority,” France-Bagwell said. “But after my first year in AVID, things really changed for me. I grew a ton not just as a student, but as a person, especially with my friends and peers that we have in that class, which we call an AVID family.”

AVID coordinator Jodi Howell says that the idea behind an AVID family is having a set of people that have aligned goals that can offer support to each other; without AVID, France-Bagwell says he would feel alone.

“Being a first generation [college student], I’ve never had anybody in my family go to college before me. I don’t really have too many people to talk about that kind of help,” France-Bagwell said. “Having teachers that literally try their best to help me to get to the right place that I want is just super important to me.”

AVID district director Stephanie Rabago says that AVID is mostly aimed at students, like France-Bagwell, that are first generation, as well as students that are historically underrepresented. “It’s typically geared for students who need some sort of support outside [of] their regular classroom structures in order to be successful,” Rabago said.

As an underclassman, France-Bagwell says there were assignments, projects, and note-checks done in his AVID class. “Every year I would make a slideshow about how I want to be a history teacher and why,” France-Bagwell said. “It just always keeps you in the loop.”

However, he also says they would do worksheets called TRFs where they would write what they knew about what they were stuck on and go into groups to talk about it.

“We engage a lot in collaborative study sessions … Students are bringing problems that they have in another class, that they just can’t seem to wrap their head around on their own,” English teacher Chris Martin said. “They get together and collaborate with some of the other classmates and try to come up with a better understanding for that issue or that problem that they’re working through.”

As a freshman, Sadie Tatum says that she’s gained better note taking skills from being in Martin’s freshman AVID class. “I’ve started studying notes, which is something that I have never really done before,” Tatum said. “I’ve reviewed notes, but I haven’t interacted with my notes.”

However, Martin says that AVID requires effort in order to be successful, and that it can be mistaken as a study hall.

“You have to want to be here in an AVID class. Sometimes it gets the wrong perception of being like a study skills, and that’s not really what it is. That individual determination is what is going to drive you to that next level,” Martin said. “That’s something that I try to focus on and try to instill in the students is none of this is going to be handed to you.”

In senior AVID, France-Bagwell says there’s been a focus on college readiness; including currently reading “The Naked Roommate: And 107 Other Issues You Might Run Into in College,” working on a nonprofit organization grant through Community 101, and that through his time in AVID has been on many college tours of different campuses.

“It really keeps you in that college mindset where this is my destination, this is where I’m going to end up being,” France-Bagwell said. “It’s just my choice on what I’m going to do when I get there, how I’m going to approach it.”