Dr. Paolina Schiro
Kelli, Paolina, Stephanie
So I would tell students, set your goals and don't give up make sure that you keep working towards those goals
Hey AVID family this is Stephanie Downey and I'm Kelly Hogan flowers from RIMS AVID and your listening to the RIMS AVID Roundtable, the podcast where we discuss all things AVID. Twice each month on this podcast, we'll get together with a special guest to talk about their AVID journey. They will tell their story and explain what makes them an AVID Rockstar. They'll share their ideas, best practices and strategies that they've learned along the way.
So we are so excited today. You can't even begin to talk about RIMS AVID without mentioning today's guest. Her official title is Program Manager for RIMS AVID, but our team. Paulina is so much more than that. Nobody has the AVID wisdom that she has. When we talk about AVID, she literally wrote the book. She created tons of the curriculum used everyday in AVID classrooms across the country, and is the lead author on AVID textbooks that are used worldwide. Before coming to RIMS AVID in 2010. Paulina was chosen district Teacher of the Year in LA County in 2001. She continued her mission of excellence after arriving at the county office. And last month, she was named at Central Office, ACSA administrator of the year. I know firsthand what a fantastic and supportive coach she is because I was lucky enough to have Paulina as my AVID coach, when I was still in the classroom. We are absolutely thrilled to be joined by the leader of rims AVID, who we affectionately call Dr. P. Please welcome to the podcast, Dr. Paulina Schiro. Welcome, Paulina.
Thank you so much. Thanks for that wonderful welcome, Kelly and Stephanie.
We're so happy to have you. All right. So Paulina, we're going to start with our icebreaker question, just to get the ball rolling. So tell us where did you go to school? And what do you have in common with your college mascot.
So I went to I was lucky enough to go to three different colleges. One, my BA was at Mount St. Mary's College. And then I was able to get a master's at Cal State Long Beach, we had there was a special partnership with my district that I was teaching at and Cal State Long, Long Beach. So it was really awesome because I was able to go there. And it was super convenient. And then I got my doctorate at USC um, I can't really remember my first two mascots. So I'll go with my third, which is the one that I owe the most money to USC in loans. So the mascot there is, which everyone probably knows is the Trojan. And I just remember hearing the story about how a sports writer actually coined that for USC a long time ago, because they were like, I guess they were losing in the game. And they just kept fighting on and fighting on and they were just, they just had this fighting spirit. So it reminded him about the ancient Trojan. So that's how they got their mascot there and their name. And I feel like I share that fighting spirit. Because all throughout my life, I've set goals and I've bought for them and I persevered in spite of things coming up. And I feel like that's what I have in common with the USC mascot.
I think that's a pretty good description of you. And I did not know that history at all I love it
That's what I think I remember
leave it to Paolina, bringing the wisdom
or embellish on some facts.
All right, so tell us about AVID through your lens. So what is AVID what should AVID school wide look like?
I think the best way I can describe it is that we meet kids where they are. And we take them to where they want to be. That's what AVID school wide really means to me. And it means all kids, not just all students, not just the ones that are identified as AVID. It just it. There's so much more to it than that it's being able to give every student that opportunity that the AVID students have everything that the CCI, that certificate, that certification document tells us to do for the AVID kids, it's all great teaching, it's all great opportunity building for students and I feel like a school that is able to do that, for all kids are working towards doing that. It's never going to be perfect. But the opportunity to do that for all students is amazing. Because we would want that for our own kids. And if I feel and I'm probably going to say this over and over. But I truly this is my measure. When I go out to a school and I visit and I talk to students and I talk to the teachers and the admin. If I could say after my observation, I would want my child there that I know it's a good place and I know they're working hard to do those things for our kids. So that's how my definition of schoolwide is do I want my own child to be able to go there would that be Good place for them.
That's a great marker to for, I think even as teachers to even how we're teaching our students when we definitely want our kids in our own class, right? Are we teaching the way that we'd want our kids to be taught or at a school that we want them to attend? So I love that. Thank you.
And we forgot to say at the beginning, definitely, everybody be ready, take some notes, get your focus notes ready. Because I really love that meet the kids where they are and take them where they want to be, should
should be like a bumper sticker.
Alright, so Paolina, if we're talking about the first experiences with AVID, so if we're talking about a first year student, what advice would you give to a first year student? And what would you say to a first year teacher, and also for first year administrator.
So for a student, I would say, to never, ever give up just to it's really not about how smart you are, but really how hard you work. When I think about going to college and getting my masters and getting my doctorate. It's really the people that didn't give up that made it that far, it really had to do with are you willing to fight? Are you willing to persevere and no matter what gets in the way you set those goals and keep working towards them. So I would tell students, set your goals and don't give up, make sure that you keep working towards those goals and, and ask a lot of questions and find a mentor, find someone that will help you along the way, because that's who succeeds. And we're so lucky and AVID because teachers had that great relationship, they're willing to be mentors, they're willing to help. We'll take advantage of that. And just keep asking questions, keep setting goals, and keep working towards those goals. And as far as a teacher goes, the teacher, to me is the advocate for all kids. It's really important for the teacher to set like that rigor s o students can achieve those high expectations that the teacher has, but also to like really be Be kind, be respectful, because I just remember when this has never left me, I remember when I was working. And I remember interviewing kids of different ethnicities. There, I had like five or six different ethnicities. And I remember asking them, like, Who do you learn best from does it? Do you want a teacher who has your same race or ethnicity, and every single students said to me, I don't care who the teacher is, as long as they I know, they care about me, I'm willing to learn, I can learn from them. And that is so important to me. And we're lucky with AVID, because most of the teachers are handpicked. And we get those teachers that really want to do a great job for kids. But just in general, like students will learn from teachers that they feel really care about them. And so that's super, that's my advice for a new teacher. You know, there's yeah, there's standards, yeah, there's objectives, you have to make sure kids learn. But the most important thing is that they're learning from you. So when doing with kindness and respect, and they will do anything for you. And I that's one lesson I was lucky enough to learn early on, and it just stuck with me ever since. And that's actually how we should treat each other and how we should treat our colleagues. And same thing with a school administrator starting AVID and school administrators overseeing AVID programs all over, you know, being, being really mindful of, you know, inspiring teachers, and then moving aside and doing wicor walkthroughs, and then seeing, hey, this really needs to happen, and making sure it happens, you know, being fierce Guinea being fierce, but then being fierce with kindness.
I love that fierce with kindness.
Alright? So what is your AVID legacy? If someone asked you like, what do you? What's your legacy?
That's a really hard question to answer. I just think about like, what I would want my legacy to be is that I would want people to think that that I was able to empower them and inspire them to do the things that they wanted to do that they felt is important for them in their work situation, or people I coach or people I interact with. I just want to feel that when I'm talking to someone, I'm talking to that person. That's the most important thing to me. When I'm listening to that person. I want to make sure that I that's all I'm doing at that time. And you know, we all tend to multitask. We all tend to have like so many things we have to do but when I'm here at work, I I'm here at work, I don't think about home when I'm home, I think about home. When I'm at a school I only think about school I don't think about the office And that's how like, I just want my legacy to be that I was I was able to be fierce with kindness, you know, I was able, we work as a team. And whatever the team wants, I want to make sure that we are able to fulfill. So that's, I think, what my role is mostly to, like, inspire people to be able to do that greatness that they have within them, and have that greatness come out and have some fun, because we're at work a long time during the day. So having some fun, I think is like really important as well.
And you know what you do make it fun. I have to say, you do make it on
Somedays, not everything is fun, but we try.
We do. So we're talking about, we've already established that you are a fantastic leader. But if you weren't doing this job, what do you think you'd be doing,
I do not have a close second, I really do not. I remember being in Miss. Little second grade class and having to write a paragraph about what I wanted to be when I grew up and I put teacher, because that's all I wanted to ever do. So since second grade on, that is the path I was on, I'm going to be a teacher, I was going to be a teacher. That's all I wanted. And I just remember the first time I heard anything else, I remember my high school principal coming up to me and saying, you know, you could do other things other than being a teacher, you could actually then become a principal, I'm like a principal, you could be an administrator of something you have an in you, I'm like I do? So that was the first time I ever thought of anything else. But you know, the interesting part is that sometimes kids feel like, Oh, I'm going to be this. And I'm going to be that and they don't realize within that this and that there's other career choices, within that other job opportunities within that, you know, if you want to be a nurse, you could be the head of a hospital nurse, you could be a nurse in an other public facility. So there's other options to do things. So educating is what I've always wanted to do. And, you know, I never thought like, I never knew about AVID, so this is kind of like something that I fell into. And I just, there's nothing I would rather do than what I do each day.
I love that. We're glad.
Yes, we are. So when you're in school, so that kind of leads directly into this. So in your school, you said you didn't have AVID, but would you have been an AVID student is this something that would have been beneficial to you would it made a difference in your journey
It totally would have. If I had been in AVID it would have made life a lot easier. And I just remember Oh, the struggles of being in school because English was not my first language. I started kindergarten not knowing a word of English, and I just I can picture my first week of school every single day since then, because it was so traumatic to sit there and not know what was happening. But I figured it out. I just remember. I just remember like, you know, just having to really figure things out. And I, you know, I was obviously able to do that. But in high school AVID would have been really amazing. For me, I just remember, I was not selected to go to an Ivy trip that my high school is putting together. And I just was like, Well, why wouldn't I be I have good grades, why wouldn't I be selected to go, I really want to go and I just remember the counselor telling me well, even if you you know, we allowed you to go your parents would never allow you to go to college across the United States. So the trip would just be wasted for you know, so I just remember thinking like, Who are you to tell me that. And it and the part that really kind of bothered me is that he was actually kind of right, that it would have been a struggle for me to, to be able to I mean, convinced my parents to letting me do that. But I would have found a way. But that really convinced me to apply to be the first one in my senior class to apply and get accepted. So even though that person didn't help me figure out how to do it. I was like, I figured out Oh, my friend who's a year older than the me, goes to this college, which was Mount St. Mary's College, and she loves it there. And so I asked her about it. And then she said, just write to them and at the time you wrote to them and to get information. And so I did and I got this college, this college admissions counselor that called me and she's like, Okay, you should take the SAT. I'm like, okay, so I would sign up and I took that, okay, now, you should fill this out, okay. And you should write this essay. And she told me like what to do every step of the way. And I applied early decision, I got accepted within one week. And I took my acceptance letter to my college counselor and said, Oh, I know you have that board. Go ahead and put this letter on that board. And I was the first to get accepted. And you know, Had I had other experiences, I probably would have even looked at other colleges, I probably would have. But that turned out to be the best place for me. But AVID would have just made such a difference. Because there was no one else in my family that went to college, I was the first. And that's why I think I'm such an advocate for AVID and as soon as I found out about AVID, I was like, Okay, I'll do it, I'll do it. Because there's so many more students in that position, then, in a position where they know where what everything is, and the college acceptance process. I mean, the college admissions process and financial aid process changes constantly. So we're always learning about what we have to do and the information we need to share with kids. So I think, you know, being able to, you know, share, that would have made such a huge difference for me, but I'm so glad that I fell into AVID and that were able to do that for other kids and other families, because, so that they don't have those same struggles that we do, and they're able to really have someone, direct them and mentor them.
I think about I just can't even imagine how many little Paolina's you have helped along the way, you know, and because you have that individual determination, but so many kids don't, and they don't have anyone to go to, and they don't have anyone to talk to about it. And that that really is who we are in AVID, and a lot of that is your doing. So I thank you from all the little Paolina's that are out there being helped.
I think we also have just this amazing team of talented people that go out and coach schools and are able to just help teachers figure it out and help administrators to know how to, you know, implement AVID and sustain it. So I think we're just really fortunate, and we're in a region that just supports AVID so much, and we're to county soups that are just will do anything to support kids going, you know, not just going to college, but just like their post secondary dreams. And so it's really, it's really important, and it's, it's about it's a bunch of us working together to try and make this happen for all those students that we have.
Always so modest. Alright, Polina finish the sentence, because of AVID.
Because of AVID students are able to achieve their dreams no matter what those dreams are, and change the course of history for their family as well. And I really think that's what it's about my going to college made sure that my brother and sister went to college and made sure we were we got out of poverty. And I think that's the key. For us, it's achieved, knowing you can do it, doing it and then giving back to the people that helped you along the way. And I think that giving back is like super important for kids to understand that, you know, you didn't get there by yourself, there's people behind you. And that held you up that pushed you along that dragged you if you needed it. And so now it's your turn to do the same for others. And that's the way you know, that's the way we're gonna see more success in what we do is by kids giving back and learning to do so. And I think our AVID students love doing that. And they realize that and they do come back and do things like that for others, and their family members and siblings.
I agree, I think that's one that's always their parents helped them or their teachers. And we're talking about that earlier to even just that, just those people just helping them along. And I think that's such an important part of the AVID family. And that whole, just scope of what we do and what we're trying to do for those kids.
And that that AVID family extends past the people that live in your home becomes your friends, your community, neighbors. It's an endless ripple.
Alright so we want you to give our listeners your best piece of AVID advice. Right? So to be successful in AVID, you need to do this one thing, what is the one thing?
To be successful in AVID, you need to do your best every single day for our students. If you're a student, you need to do your best every single day for yourself. And you're and I think if you can end your day and reflect on that question, How did I do my best today? It's never going to be perfect, but it's always a work in progress. But if you can say like I really did my best today and this is how I was kind. This is how I helped other people. This is what my best look like today. I think you can consider you can know that you're making a difference for others. You're making a difference for students. And as a student, you're making a difference for yourself so you can achieve those dreams and goals that you have.
Great. That's a great way to wrap this up. Thank you Paulina, so much for joining us. And that's it for this episode of The rims AVID Roundtable. I'm Stephanie and I'm Kelly. If you have questions, feedback on today's episode or an idea for a future show, please tweet us @rimsavid or email email@example.com We'd love to hear from you. And be sure to check out our website rimsavid.org for all the latest news and events.
Thanks Paulina for spending the afternoon with us and sharing your AVID wisdom and your AVID excellence and just for encouraging all of us to be our best every day and following in your footsteps. And thank you to all of you for listening. Don't forget to follow us on your favorite podcast app, so you don't miss a single episode. Join us again next time for more RIMS AVID roundtable we'll save your seat.