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Making college dreams a reality with AVID
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Rockdale County teachers will take part in a special institute next week for a program designed to help disadvantaged kids realize their goals of attending college.

AVID, Advancement Via Individual Determination, is a fourth- through twelfth-grade college readiness system that prepares underserved (predominantly minority and economically disadvantaged) students for college. The teachers who make that happen are specially trained and this summer, AVID Center will host eight Summer Institutes in six cities across the country to teach over 18,000 teachers with the latest in AVID methodologies and strategies to successfully implement AVID in their schools.

Atlanta hosts a session July 12-16 at the Marriott Atlanta Marquis. Locally, three school districts participate in AVID, including Rockdale County, Cobb County and Atlanta Public Schools.

According to Conyers Middle School AVID coach Diron Ford, "AVID is for kids who have college dreams but need to be shown the tools to get there." He adds, "It's all about the power of belief- and the difference it makes to a student when someone believes in them and thinks they can succeed."

AVID Eastern Division Program Manager Mary Childress says the program has a proven track record in bringing out the best in students, and in closing the achievement gap. "AVID focuses on the least-served students in the academic middle," she explains. "The formula is simple - raise expectations of students and, with the AVID support system in place, they will rise to the challenge. We see over and over again that it works."

Conyers Middle School student Hakeem McGee was one such student. He started out scoring mostly C's and D's in the sixth grade, but once he started in the AVID program, began making straight A's and was even named AVID Student of the Year at his school. The rising 8th grader has come to believe that "it's cool to be smart."

The keynote speaker, rising Morehouse senior Isaiah Moore, credits the AVID program with teaching him that education is a tool for self-betterment. "AVID showed me that teachers could care about me and my future, and that I could set and achieve goals that would get me to college," he says. Isaiah will share his story of meeting AVID teacher Sam Logan in high school and the impact Logan and the program had on his life as the student keynote at the AVID Summer Institute luncheon on Thursday, July 15.

Childress says "The teachers really look forward to the student speaker - they love to hear from these kids whose lives they've transformed- and there are so many, we have to hold an essay contest to choose."

At the high school and middle school levels, AVID students are enrolled in their school's toughest classes, such as Advanced Placement, and receive support in an academic elective class - called AVID - taught within the school day by a trained AVID teacher. AVID elective teachers support AVID students by providing academic training, managing their tutorials, working with faculty and parents, and by helping students develop long-range academic and personal plans. Often, these teachers are providing the encouragement and support that isn't available elsewhere.

AVID has been adopted in nearly 4,500 schools in 45 states, the District of Columbia and 16 countries/territories, and serves approximately 400,000 students, grades 4-12.  For more information, visit