Myki Dee Kim, Staff Writer
Across the country, 80,000 educators are trained to help prepare middle and high school students for college, potential career paths, and their overall future. These teachers are committed to closing the opportunity gap and ensuring an equitable and student-centered atmosphere for students across diverse backgrounds.
The Advancement Via Individual Determination program, more commonly known as AVID, is a national non-profit that provides training and services for teachers and well deserving students. Typically, the AVID program is for first-generation students, as well as students of color. It allows youth to realize that both college and a career are an attainable reality.
Saint Martin’s own Eric Boyer, Ph.D., and Ronald “Ronnie” Gordon, Ph.D., are dedicated to connecting AVID programs in the Puget Sound region to university life.
For the past two years, Boyer and Gordon have worked closely with the administration and teachers of River Ridge High School to provide opportunities for their AVID program.
Boyer noted, “When Mike Smith (assistant principal at RRHS) found out that I was an AVID teacher when I was a teacher at Bremerton High School, he asked if he could have the AVID students at River Ridge come to Saint Martin’s for a school visit. I immediately agreed.”
Boyer knows just how enriching the opportunity was for AVID students to engage in the college atmosphere that ranged beyond a standard campus tour.
Typically, AVID affiliated universities allow prospective students to tour the campus, receive information, and sit in on a college lecture. Prior to Saint Martin’s, Boyer and Gordon were secondary education teachers and AVID instructors.
Saint Martin’s AVID hosting program is unique compared to many other universities. Students typically spend six hours on campus, which encompasses all parts of their itinerary.
When AVID students arrive, members of the Saint Martin’s University Future Educators club (SMUFE) greet them. SMUFE students assist AVID students in navigating their way around campus and to their respective classes. Instead of attending one college lecture, AVID students attend two to three lectures during their visit.
Typically, Boyer reaches out to faculty to inquire if they are interested in hosting AVID students during one of their lectures. From 5 to 6 p.m., students are provided dinner and engage in dialogue about college life and experiences of Saint Martin’s students.
Gordon said, “We try our best to give the AVID students an authentic one day experience in the life of a college student.”
Since the start of the partnership with River Ridge High School, Saint Martin’s has also hosted students from Yelm High School, Klahowya Secondary School, Rogers High School, and Franklin Pierce School District. AVID students from Rogers High School and Franklin Pierce are planning to visit campus this spring.
This strong partnership is much more than just high school students visiting a college for a day. For AVID students, the experience helps them become familiar with realities of a college campus, as well as the day-to-day life of a Saint.
The opportunity to meet and talk with college students about their daily life is an important experience. This experience benefits the Saint Martin’s community as well as the AVID students. Saint Martin’s students are able to become mentors and assist high school students with similar challenges that they had to face when they were younger.
Boyer believes “It’s a great opportunity also for us to ‘flex’ our Benedictine muscles, and espouse our values with action.”
This partnership allows the Saint Martin’s community to be hospitable and provide students a tailored experience of college life.
Gordon believes this partnership “champions community partnership between the SMU CEC and school districts throughout the Puget Sound region.”
The Saint Martin’s sponsored AVID program is expected to grow in years to come. With hopes being that the program continues to attract other schools, remain authentic for all involved, and continue to create strong relationships between Saint Martin’s and AVID students.