Vela students get college ready with AVID


“I want to go to Schreiner University,” said Samantha Zapata, eighth grade student at Vela Middle School. “ I want to be a lawyer. They have a great law program.”

Zapata, like many of the students at Vela and secondary schools at the Harlingen Consolidated Independent School District, are getting an early start on selecting their future university by enrolling in the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) class.

The AVID course is designed to enhance college readiness by developing the skills needed to succeed in post-secondary education and improve academic performance. Throughout their enrollment in AVID, students learn organizational and study skills, work on critical thinking and ask probing questions, said Heather Adair, Instructional Facilitator at Vela.

The class also provides an outlet to research different universities across the nation, their offered programs and acceptance requirements.

“Being in the class helped me decide where I see myself in the future,” Zapata said. “My cousin gave me a tour of Schreiner University, but what she didn’t have time to tell me, I found out through the AVID course. I know the grades I need to have, and what I need to do to go there.”

To further help students achieve those future college requirements; the class offers tutoring in areas of math, science, reading and writing.  During tutoring periods, students can work with their teacher or with peers to enhance their understanding of a particular lesson.

The result of this structure is that it creates small learning communities on campus, said Mindy Taylor, AVID teacher at Vela.

“Our students come together like a family,” said Taylor. They learn with each other. The students are helping to create positive attitudes towards class work and college.”

For some students, the collaborative assistance has helped improve their class performance. Eighth grade Vela student Tyler Terry credits the AVID program with giving her new tools to study.

“The studying skills we’ve learned have helped me in my math class,” said Terry. “I can focus better, and take better notes to look back on.”

The AVID course is available to seventh through twelfth grade students at all of the middle and high school campuses at HCISD. Students that enter the course are enrolled in a minimum of one Pre-AP Course. The schools’ goal is to have students stay in the elective course from middle school until the time they graduate to assist them as they move forward with their coursework, Adair said.

Both Terry and Zapata have made the decision to continue the AVID course during their enrollment at the Dr. Abraham P. Cano Freshman Academy, next year.

“I’ve already put it down on my schedule for next year, because I know the work will be more difficult next year. I know that if I am struggling or not, it’s better for me to have that way to get help.”

Students that are interested in enrolling in their campus AVID program and are encouraged to speak with their counselor.

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