AVID Deconstructed

Students and teachers share their thoughts on the AVID program


Laasya Koduru

When the bell rings, students settle in their seats as the sound of papers flipping and small whispers permeate the room. The binders click open as the teacher circulates around the room, asking students to explain their organizational methods. Organization checks are a typical task once a month in the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) classes.

AVID students take the class for four years, which in turn, trains and supports students throughout their high school journey. Coordinator Pooya Hajjarian, who has been teaching AVID for four years, defines AVID as a program that provides students with the tools they need to succeed in high school and beyond, as well as a class that helps them build their character.

Being in the class for four years, AVID students often develop close bonds with their teachers and fellow students. Class of 2022 AVID teacher Elizabeth McCracken expresses that AVID allows her students form intimate bonds with each other and develop life skills at the same time.

“They really learn how to self-advocate, study better and they learn how to support each other,” McCracken said. “This year, right now, in my classroom, we are working on a lot of them getting to know each other and team-building activities in addition to the curriculum.”

In order to develop necessary life skills, AVID students have many binder and organizational checks to help keep them track of their schoolwork. AVID teacher Pooya Hajjarian mentions that he and his fellow AVID teachers try to incorporate activities based on writing, inquiry, collaboration, organization and reading (WICOR) curriculum.

Through interactive activities, AVID teachers try to make their week as appealing as possible to their students, while still teaching them the necessary skills needed. Senior Makayla Reid elaborates on teacher support by providing an example of how her AVID teacher Lynn Rose engages the class.

“I think a great way my teachers have supported me is we have these fun Fridays, occasionally, and this is the time to let the class relax after a really stressful week, because she understands that we are busy Monta Vista students and we need a break from schoolwork,” Reid said.

While there are some similarities between AVID and other course offerings at Monta Vista, the AVID class is structured differently, with student tutors – typically sophomores, juniors or seniors –  playing a big role in the leading of the class. AVID tutors typically support the students throughout AVID and help them in AVID tutorials, which are designed specifically for AVID students to come in and ask for help twice a week. Students come in with a tutorial request form and are placed in groups with a student tutor to get the help they need.

With AVID teachers striving to help students, they make sure each year of AVID helps students with the challenges of each grade level and has a specialized focus. For example, AVID 9 heavily focuses on helping students transition into high school and AVID 12 focuses more on college applications. McCracken supports this idea and explains the reason behind having a unique focus for each grade.

“A big focus is the thought that they will be ready to attend a four year school if they want to,” McCracken said. “This includes walking them through the process of looking at schools and applying to schools.”

In order to earn money to help students with their college admission process, AVID students will fundraise through food stands. At the homecoming game on Oct.12, McCracken and her students set up a snack shack to raise money. They will later use that money for junior AVID students to take a trip to Southern California and visit college campuses.  

Going on field trips and having time for class bonding allows AVID teachers to create meaningful connections with their students, according to Hajjarian.

“My favorite part about teaching AVID is that you get to be with these students for such a long time during their whole high school career and really watch them grow,” Hajjarian said. “You get to build these lifelong relationships which I think is, for me, so special.”