The hosts of the RIMS AVID Roundtable continue to talk about their AVID journey.
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Kelli and Steph part 2
AVID, kids, teacher, college, people, school, class, big, feel, important, student, high school, parents, thought, campus, backpack, love, classroom, best practice, huge
Welcome to part two of our co host conversation with Kelli and Stephanie. All right, so how about your best AVID memory or experience or success story? What do you got?
So I started the AVID program at Orange Vista so, it's a brand new high school. I mean, it's like six, seven years now. But we started with ninth and 10th. And so that's how I started my AVID. And again, those kids came with me from Rancho Verde, at least half the kids I had in my own classes. So I had some of these kids for years. And I feel like that was an amazing experience, like opening a school starting a program getting these kids like, this is our school, we are creating it the way we want it to be. This is our program. And so they were so instrumental in creating the AVID culture at the school to that I made them feel important with it like this is your program like, how are we going to build this? What kind of relationships are we going to build. And so I feel like, that's a huge thing, my first graduating class in 2019. Thankfully, before everything fell apart, they got to do that. And so that was huge, seeing them kind of come through this whole program. But honestly, I think my best memory is watching them become an AVID family. And I think I really learned what that can look like, at Orange Vista. And so my class of 2020, which they would have been freshmen, and when we opened, they were a great example of that. And not that 9 2019 wasn't special, it really wasn't. They were amazing at it, too. But there was something about the class of 2020. And so it was just so heartbreaking that they didn't get their full graduation and everything that was just it was it was hard. But I watched them go from ninth grade, and kind of go together. And I remember one that seems this seems like such a small thing. But it's such a big thing that I was sitting in tutorials had ended. It was lunch, most of the kids had left. And then I looked over and I had two students that were still sitting there doing it. And they like missed a lot of their lunch because she wasn't getting this math thing. And he didn't want to leave her without her figuring it out. And they just kept working through it. And I was just like, I think they were sophomores or juniors then. And I was just like, look at them. Like they like this is friendship. This is family that like, look, I'm I'm starving. It's lunchtime, but you don't get this yet. And you have a test coming up. And I'm going to stick it with you until we figure this out. So that and then that same class, we ran in one time, we started a group chat, do you want to be in our group chat, and I was like, and they're like, it's 60 people big and I was like, No, I don't want to be in your 60 people group. But the fact that they created that, that they all connected enough that they wanted to be in this gigantic group chat together. And they would remind each other about homework, they would push each other for things and like I got to see that. What that really can look like that these kids really were in it together. And they didn't have all their classes together. But it's like AVID was their home base. You know, where they knew when they came in here. And though they switched each year, they weren't always in the same elective, but they always had me, we were ninth 10th 11th 12th together all of us the whole time because I wanted to carry them all the way through, try every class and see what I thought it should look like at the school. And so that was a very unique experience with them, and with 2019 But with them, and I just You really got to see like, this is what it looks like. Like they were out there doing when we would do our fundraisers for like back to school night, we would sell snacks or whatever. But they were just in it. And they were ready to go and ready to help. And they wanted to be part of that they would come and talk at the middle schools and they would honor just watching them kind of bond together was just the best experience I think ever like that. To me, I was like that's AVID, right? Like, you can walk into class and you feel the AVIDness of it. And I don't really know how to describe it if you've seen but like I when I've walked into other schools to, I'm like, I can feel the AVID love of this class. It's a very, they used to make fun of me because I would say that's not very avidly and avidly. But that's what you kind of notice it has a feel there's like an atmosphere to a really good strong AVID class. And I feel like that, to me has to be like my best experience of getting to watch that progress. And like what that can really look like when you're kind of nurturing those relationships, you know?
And I like that, because those kids are connected. They're bonded.
Oh, yeah and they're all I know, they're still friends, because I'll talk to one and they'll be like, oh, yeah, so and so's doing this or, you know, and so they're still connected, and that they've just they, they did it together, right? Someone went to the same schools together and they just they just encourage each other. I just, you don't always see that.
Well, I'm for so many kids, they don't have a connection to school. And it's one of the things that I think AVID really brings out is that you know I'm connected to my friends I play baseball with I'm collect connected to my my friends that I dance with. But this is a connection to school and it's an academic connection, and it's different and Having those relationships and that accountability, and the other kids on that group chat. You know, I'm sure if somebody didn't didn't pull their weight the rest of the chat, let them know. Yeah, because it's what AVID kids do. So I love that. Thinking about mine. Gosh,
It's hard. There's such good stuff.
It is. And I think about like I've already talked about, you know, that first class by first graduates getting to see a couple of those kids come back and be tutors was,
And that's amazing
was huge. Yeah, you know, the first one that we hired, I remember just being so proud. You know, when he came for his interview and and had his little, you know, suit on and shook our hands. And it was just like we did that we right, we raised him like that. So that was, that was neat. I know that Cheryl and I went to the graduation of one of our tutors, because she was finishing college, and we went to her college graduation and just her face when she saw us at her graduation. It was like, What are you guys doing here? We're supporting you. You're one of your one of ours. That was really neat I loved junior road trips,
Oh those are the best.
And you know, the bonding and all that is great. But for me, I would always tell the kids, when you get to your college, you will know. You find your fit. And you'll feel it when you go on campus. And taking the kids on all those trips and seeing them have that moment where they're standing on a campus. And it's like, oh, I'm like, Oh, you found your fit. I couldn't see your face. This wasn't even on my list. I want to go to school here. And that. Yeah, gosh, that's one of my favorites.
And as a side note, I think for people who aren't, you know, that's investing in those field trips, yeah, is huge. And I know right now, it's weird time. But finding the money finding the time to invest and taking those kids on those trips, if you can do a junior trip, that just changes kids a lot, like a lot of kids had never even stayed in hotel. They've never seen the ocean, even though we lived here. They've never been out of Perris or Moreno Valley. And so it was huge for them to go to San Francisco, you know, and so just field trips, like you said, that is where they know where they belong, when they get to actually be on the campus. And so getting to visit those local schools, and we're so blessed with how many schools we have just in our area to take kids to and to let them see like, do you like this big school? Do you like this small school, so that was my side plug that just those field trips are so big,
and I did love those because it you can visit all the different kinds of schools so they can see. And then, you know, being able to reach out to former students to be our guides on the tours, and then they would come down and and so the kids get to see themselves in. It's like this is not just a former AVID student. This is an AVID student who went to Upland High School, sat in the desks that you sit in now and get to see what it's really like. So, I think on the teacher. end those are my favorite experiences. And then on the coach end I think I think my favorite is my first year was also Lucerne Valleys first year. And they're a teeny tiny, teeny tiny school teeny, tiny district.
Are they the ones that had the two seniors graduate.
Yes. So shout out to Lucerne Valley, who we always refer to as our little school that could, because they came to everything. And they were so invested and wanted me to come and do all these trainings. And when they got certified, their principal had sparkling cider. And they had a little like a little party, the local news came and interviewed the coordinators. And it was such a huge deal. And they all had those little confetti poppers and you took a group photo and it was so important for that campus. And you know, the prince that the superintendent was just so excited. And the principal said, I'm just so pleased because our kids really need this. And just the idea of how it was going to change those students lives and change that community. And I remember being you know, being really excited for them. And they were, you know, there was a lot of tears in the room because they were so proud of themselves. And I remember that I got to the car before I started to cry, but it was just
Look at you holding it together.
Oh, it's so unlike me, but it was it was so important to them. You know and there are parents there. And it was just it was so it was like the biggest thing that had happened to them was they were an AVID certified school. And the next time I came, they already had banners made. And we're so excited. It's like, we're an AVID school, you know, look at this, we're an AVID school. And they're so proud of that. But I remember thinking that anybody who's starting AVID needs to have that kind of support. Yeah. And the fact that it was such a big deal, not just at their school site, not just at their district, but in that community, and how the whole community rallied, realizing what a huge difference that was gonna make. And one of the administrators said, this is, and I said, I love how excited you are. And he said, You don't understand. For our kids, what you've given them is their yellow brick road. Yeah. And that was done at that point, it was like, okay, and now I'm sobbing. But I love that because he said, you know, all they know is where they live. And so this was going to be, you know, the path to their, whatever their I know, whatever their Oz is. So that I think that's my favorite as a coach. So let's, let's talk about best practices. Because I'm sure that you have some that you did in your class, and then some that you have observed and others.
So besides just loving the kids, which I think is just the biggest thing you possibly could do for them.
Sometimes I tell myself like am I a really good teacher, if I just really love the kids.
That to me is the most important thing. That's sometimes what they're coming to get at school because they're not getting a home or um, yeah. But um, when I was teaching an OV, like, I wasn't doing English anymore, only did AVID and so the English teacher in me was really missing. Um doing fiction and nonfiction and not that you shouldn't be doing those things. But I tried to like be intentional about it. And I think AVID classes should. And so, one of the things I think having units of study and I had, I ended up spreading it out where each grade level had their own. And so that was the thing that they would work on any theory fiction or nonfiction, almost like a mini write off where it wasn't, there wasn't a writing competition or anything. But there was all these components they had to do to build up to some sort of end piece like a Socratic seminar.
So one of the ones I did, I decided to do it when Blackfish was kind of big with the killer whales. So, it was probably my most intensive Socratic seminar I've ever had. But they had a whole unit where they had to study both sides, they had, we watched videos, they read text from, you know, the families of the people who were killed, you know, by the killer whales, you know, just all these different things. And they had to come up with a side. And so actually, we didn't describe them, or we did a philosophical chair, it was it was heated, where the kids came prepared with, like memes and things, and they hung them all over my walls. And like when they grew up, they were sophomores. And when they graduate, this is class of 2019. They, it I had to like, kind of shut it down, like it got really, and these kids all loved each other. They're all friends, but it was very heated more than I thought I would with this whale. Um, but it was, I mean, they got into it. But my biggest one I ended up doing was if again, 2019 is listening, they're gonna totally laugh because they know that I'm like, obsessed with sharks, which is an odd animal to love. But this is one of my favorites. And so I did this whole unit on shark finning, because it was something that was important to me, where I made the kids we studied it, we talked about, they look to different articles, and I end up having them do a Socratic on it, but then they also wrote to Congress on it, because there was like a whole bill that was being passed. And so I feel like something like that, where you're taking all these different components, and it doesn't matter what it is, doesn't matter, no sharks or whatever. But um, they had to kind of do all these steps that led them to doing something totally different. So like, they learned how to write a letter, they don't know, a lot of times, they don't really know how to set up a letter, anything else. So, they wrote, I think it was to their Senator, you know, they had a look at the bill and see what was on the table about it. And then they had to write there, and we mailed them, like, we sent them off. And I don't know if they're as excited as I was, where I was, like, look at what we're doing. But it was something where we kind of made our way. And it wasn't the only thing we did, we're still doing tutorials, but there's this little unit that they're able to focus on, you know, and they're able to build on their skills. And so they're doing that collaborative work. They're writing, they're reading, they're building the skill of writing a letter that's kind of dying, I feel like even how to address an envelope. And we did have the envelopes and all that. And I did a fiction, one with you know, dystopian fiction. And so we ran through that. And so there's just I think having something that the kids are building on, but has some sort of interest for them. And we made a lot of comparisons to like what's going on nowadays to these dystopian stories from like the 30s and 40s. And, but they're building skills. And I think, no, it doesn't almost even matter what you're doing as long as you're kind of building those skills, where there's that inquiry. There's the writing, there's the reading, there's a collaboration and so for me that I think that was my best practice is just having something that kind of builds all those things in and developing those. As far as other schools, there's so many great things like I know what I saw the other day, I was listening to teachers, I think it was Chaffeys certification. And I was like, You guys make me want to go back in the classroom. So, I could do some of these things. Like they were just doing some great things for their kids. I don't know if I can even narrow it down. There's just so
I know, that's a hard one.
it's so cool when you go because you're like, how do I didn't think of that like it just because you're in your own zone, and you're doing great things. But then there's all these other great things that are happening, I think that's what's so great about AVID is that it looks different. Almost everywhere you go, you know, where there's just so many cool things that you could do with the kids to keep them engaged. And each site, they're kind of figuring out what's that thing? You know, and so I can't narrow it down, I don't think.
So I and I can't narrow it down either. But I've seen a lot of really, really good things. Some of my favorites are the way college culture is, is generated on a campus. And so there are the schools that have like each of the each of the buildings is named after a university. There are schools where I love when they have the door on the door is a poster up for each teacher, and it tells where they went to school. What the best thing with their best college memory was, why you know why they chose their major. And just so the kids know, hey, if I'm thinking about University of LaVerne, I can go to this teacher's class and find out about it, because I know that they went to that school. So I really liked that. We have a couple of our schools that do a backpack check. Middle school kids are coming onto campus. And they're not checking for, you know, contraband.
I know I was with Paulina the other day when they were doing that. And I was like, Well, man, they check every kid before they walk in, I'm like, what kind of school is this, she's like, No, they're checking their binder,
They're checking their binders.
They're checking their backpacks to make sure they're not bringing stuff on campus it was notes.
And the coordinator and the principal are out there in the morning. And they're checking to make sure. And when the kids backpack is a mess, they go right to their MPR. And there are AVID kids sitting there at the table, ready to help them do binder rescue. And I think I think one of the best practices that I've seen is binder rescue. And we did that. In my classes. You know, if I had a kid who had a backpack that was a hot mess, I would call my AVID kids. And it's like, who need to help this one. And they would take care of it. And so, I look at and I had some teachers that would say I got a kid who's backpack is a disaster. Can I send him? Yes, am I gonna die to go to the cabinet, we're going to start fresh. And my you know, my AVID kids knew they'd go to the cabinet and get out a fresh binder and dividers and everything else. But to do that, on a school wide level
is huge. And so, I love that that's one of my favorites is because kids, if you're proud of your work, and your materials, you take better care of them, and you work harder. And so kids that have the messy backpack with half a burrito from two weeks ago at the bottom, you know, those backpacks where you open it up? It's like, Oh, my God, what does that smell what's in there? As opposed to the kids that take out their binder and everything's in its place. And there's just something empowering to that?
Well, I think it's shows that it's important that the whole school is doing it, if your principal is standing out there checking them to the kids that says like, this is important. My organization matters. Like this is a skill they want me to really know. And I think that's it, that's alone. It's just huge, because it shows the kids that again, that's what matters.
This is who we are. This is who we are. And this is what we do. So I think that there are so many systems that people have done, but I really liked that as a best practice. So I think I have to give my my stamp of favorite I think that's my stamp of favorite.
That's a good one.
I like college corners. Also, I got a shout out to college corners. I liked that in the classroom and with Oh, and WICOR walls,
All of it. All of the AVID things on walls. That's what we look for. I don't know if teachers even realize it when we walk in like what's on your walls. And I think admin does it too.
You know like what, what are kids seeing every day like what are you doing to kind of enhance that environment,
So sometimes there's too much stuff on wall, right, you know, and it's distracting and the kids are just, you know, just too many things. But that college corner those wicker walls, like you said, that's such an important part for student work. I love getting to see student work from other classes, you know, especially now that I'm not in the classroom and I'm not doing that like I'm like, Oh, look at what they made or they did or that's a really cool project. Sure. And so just showing that often than the kids feel like it's important, right? That's my work like, you know,
And the fact that those things don't have to be you know having that, that college culture doesn't have to cost money, because I had this order that I was going to place with fat heads from all the different universities, and I was going to do all these things. And they said, with what budget? And I said, Oh, okay, and so I bought one. And it was really expensive. And I used my own money. And I said, Okay, well, I want pennants. And I want banners. And, you know, I had all these, all these dreams on a shoestring budget. And so my kids made banners, my kids made pennants, and they put the information on the back, and my one wall, my classroom was all windows. And so it was up on the windows facing out. And so I would see kids walk by all the time reading the banners looking to see. And they'd come in and say, what's, what is this class? You know, do you have any more information on this college? And it's like, I actually do, come on in. Yeah. And so that was, and it was free. So not to put it out there that you have to spend a fortune on, you know, on your college corners, that those can be things that the kids make. I love in case you have no budget. Yeah.
And a lot of us don't. Yeah, a lot. And even having kids write letters to the universities, we used to do, I don't know, the schools are still sending stuff. But sometimes you could send them some really good things, you know, they'd get penance. And if they didn't want them, they give them the teachers or I know, some teachers like, well, if I don't have it, I'm gonna keep that one, right. Um, I always had a hard time doing them, like it's for you. But they would send the stuff to school, and then they get all the information or when we did you know, college fairs with AVID 10, they would say, I would always like reach out to the schools, they might send you materials, I had one student they got Ohio State sent all of these brochures, like 100 sunglasses for the kids to give out. And like they had T shirts, and so they probably had the ice. That's always the picture I used for to promote the college fair, because it's the two kids presenting, they have their sunglasses on, that are, you know, Ohio State the other shirts on their thing. And so it was really cool. And sometimes the schools will send, and they know that kids are doing things like that sometimes, because, again, budgets and money and mailing things out, doesn't always work out. But some schools really do make that effort. And so having kids reach out to those schools, and then it's a good project for them. Because they're the ones writing a letter, you know, they're the ones reaching out. And then they excited because I'm like, Oh, you got mail. Yeah. And I'd be passing it out. And the kids are all excited. And you know, it's just, it's fun.
I need to add that to my best practices. I also love college fairs. You know, when the kids do the research, and they're presenting with their little, you know, their little boards. And it's, it's just magic. I love that. And when they go and do research, I think that's really important. It is. So a lot of best practice.
I feel like that could be a whole segment of our podcast is just just best practices,
And college fairs.
And college fairs.
And also taking the kids to college fairs. Yeah, cuz that's my last one. taking the kids to college fairs. No, it's not stop, lying. But I love that too, because they get a chance to go and talk to the recruiters and I made my kids make a list of questions first, to ask. And so, then we went to the college fairs, and they would go and ask things. But then I also and it's like, look at these, look at these little I see what you're doing. Because we would sign up afterward for their, their college they were going to present. And so if their college was there at the college fair, they could go and take notes. Hey, could you send me a couple things? I'm doing a report, can you and they would send them all the things?
And I think they also shouldn't discount that some of those fairs will accept kids on the spot. Yes. So HBCUs, they'll happen a lot with those and some of the other schools like the private schools, you know, that they can bring their transcripts with them. And so I'm having those on hand. And so I've had kids get letters, right, then they've been accepted to a school, and maybe it's not the school they're gonna go to, but it's also that motivation, like, oh, look, I can do this I got accepted, like, I'm gonna keep applying to other places. And so I think that's important, too, that that's maybe people don't know that, that when you go to those fairs, that that's a possibility.
And taking the kids to those, but also giving them information so they can go maybe at night with their parents, and I took my kids to the NACAC College Fair all the time, because it was such a huge one at the convention center. But then they also could go back at night with their parents. And so a lot of the times the kids would go back and the recruiters would see them. It's like, Hey, weren't you here this morning with your school? It's like, Yeah, but I wanted to bring my parents back. And so a couple of those were kids I know that got accepted on the spot, because they showed that initiative and brought their parents and the parents had questions and they were like, Okay, here's my card. Here's my number. So that's another best practice.
So, determination. I think that's such a big, big thing with AVID. Because I think our kids really do need that. Because again, this class is not easy, right? There's some work to it, and there are sometimes having to really push themselves to do well in it. But even you talked about your individual determination with getting it off the ground and upland, you know, just really pushing forward and that you're like, not gonna take no for an answer, and you're gonna figure this out. But do you have any other like, determination story?
Gosh, you know, I, I think that my end, my individual determination is kind of my jam. Cause I don't
I think all of us as coaches, I feel like that's our thing
I don't take no for an answer. Especially if it's what's best for kids. And I think that so many times, that has been, my determination has been based on my students. And kids being told no. And coming to me and saying, Oh, I'm not allowed to do this, Oh, watch me work. Because that's, you know, and of course, with with my kids, you know, your your students become your kids. And so I go, nobody tells my kid no, we're gonna, what do you mean, you can't take that AP class, then down, we go to the counselor, and we're gonna look at that now, here's your new schedule, and go on and make me proud. So I think my determination was really not taking no for an answer, but also not taking no for an answer for my kids.
Yeah. Which is important. And that's a big part of being an AVID coordinator, too, is you are advocating for them and trying to figure out what's gonna be the best for these kids you have right now. Yeah, you know,
what about your determination.
So I'm in talking about me and the scrappy coyote that I am. But when people tell me, I can't do something that's like a really surefire way to like, make me do it. And not even just as a teacher, but jobs I've had before. And I think me and you've talked about before, but with my student teaching, it was not, I had a terrible master teacher. But um, and so when she had come to observe, and the kids were off the walls, because my technology wasn't working, and I was trying to figure it out. And again, I'm, like, been teaching for a month, you know, and so I'm just kind of figuring out how to do all this and manage things. And so when we sat down after and she's like, you know, some people go through this program, and then they realize that they just, they don't want the, teaching isn't for them. And I just cried and I don't cry very easily. And I just because I felt like everything I was working, like I quit a high paying job, that most people at the age I was weren't doing, because I wanted to be a teacher. Because I thought like, this isn't the job for me. I don't want to be in sales, I want to be, you know, like, educating people, right, like serving the community and like being in a classroom of kids. And, and so for her to say that it was just like, she just, like, completely just crushed everything I was trying to do. And I was just like, is she right? Like, is this not for me, like, this wasn't a good day. And not that every day was like that and I was in a very rough school. You know, but I think I gave myself at one day that I was upset about it. And I was like, Well, watch me like, we're doing this, like, this is what I'm doing now. And, and it was weird teaching was hard to get jobs. It was 2010 where people are getting pink slip left and right. And so I wasn't sure I was gonna get a job. So Val Verde was just a complete blessing. And to get that, so just wanted to email her when I had my, you know, when I was doing well doing them, like, look, look, I'm doing it. And we had these awards at the end of the year. And I got like, the Rookie of the Year Award that year, and I just so wanted to just send it to her, like, I'm just gonna mail this to your office, because like, look like and not that I was like, the best teacher ever or anything, but like, you can't tell me I'm not going to do something, because I'm problem like, Okay, well, let me figure this out now. And I think that's important too, for our kids to have that drive, because a lot of times are told that they can't go to college or for whatever reason, like this isn't for them, or, you know, and just having that like, well, I'm going to do it anyway, right now. Like you can't, you know, tell me, you know, or that I can't do something. And so I don't know, that's, I feel like that's how I show mine. I'm just gonna just gonna push through it. Maybe it's not always gonna work out the way I wanted to. But I feel like most things have because like I said, I'll figure away under over around. Right, I'll get there. And so I feel like it was probably a good thing that I'm sure that she said that in a way that to keep driving me forward. Or she could have been a lot nicer about it.
Because then your response is just like mine always challenge excepted, like, well, like we're doing this to issue a challenge. Okay. Yeah. But also, you know, for you, there are so many teachable moments. I think about there are things that happen now, where I think, Gosh, I wish I was in the classroom. So I could tell kids, this is what happened. This is how this was the response for those teachable moments. You know, and yours would have been somebody telling you that you couldn't do what you wanted to do. And the choice that you could have made you could have gone any other way.
Oh, yeah, cuz I was like, well, but
And Think about, you know, for, for me, I taught for so long and I thought, Okay, this is this is who I am. You know, I'm a teacher, this is what I do. I love my job, I love my kids. And I was like, Alright, I'm good. And I remember going to Summer Institute. And our presenter said, Why aren't you a staff developer? And I said, I don't know
I don't know what that is. I just got here.
And I was like, I don't know. I mean, I love it. I love summer institute, and she was like, You should be a staff developer. And that's how I became a staff developer. And then I started doing some presentations. And then I remember that Polina said, Why aren't you presenting for us? And so I presented it, you know, k 12. And then someone saw me there and said, Why aren't you working for RIMS AVID and I never thought that I would leave the classroom,
And yet, here we are.
And I think that as teachers to like to know that sometimes just that one word of encouragement, like it makes all the difference. You know, because even if I wasn't community college, I had no idea what I wanted to do. And I had to go, I don't go to tutoring for a paper or whatever they make you do. And I remember the guy saying, you're really good at semi colons. And I was like, Okay, it's a weird thing to say. But he was like, have you thought about being an English major? This is the tutor in the Writing Center. And I was like, no, because I hated English. In high school, I was telling you, like, and I love, I'm a writer, I'm a reader, but I just I didn't have great English teachers until like, my junior senior year, and it just wasn't something I thought about doing. But having someone say that and kind of plant that seed, and I was like, well, you're right, I am good at it. You know, that this is just, that's the thing that comes most naturally to me, not math. None of those things, but writing. Sure. But having someone say that, to me was like, right, maybe I can do that. You know, I think it's the same thing for our kids like us seeing their potential and like pointing things out that maybe they wouldn't see in themselves. You know, and so I think that's as teachers, that's what I think, almost cool part of our job. I mean, to say those things and encourage kids in those way, but not discounting that as well, that that's important.
Right. And, and kind of guiding them to their individual determination. Yeah. Because they don't have it at first. No. And I think that just reminded me of when we were doing our first interviews, and a little girl sat down across from me, and she said, well, and I said, well, tell me about your, your dreams and your goals. And she was talking to me, and I said, so why do you want to go to college? And she said, college? And I said, well, yeah, this, you know, Abbott is going to help you get to college. And she said, well, real people don't go to college. And I said, what do you mean, real people? And she said, well, like doctors and teachers, but I don't I don't know anybody who's ever been to college. And I said, so you don't think that that's in your future? And she laughed, and she said, how would that be my future? No,
Was this an eighth grader?
She said no. And, and I said, well, she's in signing you up. She's in and I remember just I couldn't get over that. That that was, you know, she just, it was so beyond anything that she'd ever thought about for herself. And real people don't know, real people don't go to college. It was like, Well, what do you mean, real people? And it just, it's stuck with me? For so long? Yeah. And you know, she was in our in my first class of graduates. And I asked her and I said, Do you remember what you said? And she said, yes. And I said, so when you graduate from college, I want you to remember who you were and who you are now. And just, you know, her parents had can't believe that she's graduating from high school. And they were so excited that she was graduating from high school, and that she was going to college and they couldn't get over it. So really, I mean, it's what I think about AVID you know, my next question, our next question is, you know, because of AVID dot, dot, dot, and so mine is always you know, because of AVID lives are changed, you know, futures are changed, families are changed, you know, the bar is raised. Expectations are, you know, enhanced. It just it changes communities and families. And dreams are achieved. And I think that is for me, that's what I love about AVID is that it is so much more than a class that you take at school. So much more when we talk about you know, we are we are in school say we are AVID and it's like well, let me see. Let me see that you're AVID because it means a whole lot of different things. And so, you know, show me that you're AVID and when when kids you know will say oh yeah, well I did this because we're AVID well I did this because I'm AVID you I finished my work because I'm AVID yes you are. And that's who you've become. So if you had to say if you had to answer because of AVID
So because of AVID, I think it became a better teacher, a better leader, I feel like a lot of my leadership skills came from being a teacher, a coordinator. And just because of AVID, I've been able to help just hundreds of kids get to college. And like you said that maybe wouldn't have thought they could do it. You know that they're super smart, but they don't know kind of how to direct those smarts. And just getting to watch that. And then because of our that those lives have been changed, like you said, and, and that's not something that we should downplay at all. And I felt like as a first year, teacher, you don't always see it. But when you watch and see what the effect you're really having on those students and on their futures on their families, it's huge. You know,
and when they when you have those family nights, and the parents come and just are so grateful. You know, um, it just is I think about, we had done interviews at one of the middle schools, and then my family and I went out to dinner, we were at a restaurant, we came out, and there was a family that their card broken down, or they were locked out of their car. And they were trying to get in. And I said, you know, and they spoke Spanish. And so I was speaking Spanish to them and ask them, you know, can I help you? And so I called AAA. And I said, I'll just call AAA and say it's my car. And so while we were waiting, the little girl came over and she said you interviewed me today for AVID and I said, oh, I said, Well, how did it go? And she's like, I think it went really well. But I remember you and I recognize your face. I said you, you know you're not dressed up like you were today during the interview. But and so I went to the car, and I'm looking through my notes, I got this little girl, and she gotten in. And so I came back and I told her parents, and they were saying, and the mom said, Thank you so much for everything. And just because you didn't just get us into our car, you know, this is going to be the answer for her. This is her way out. Yeah. And of course, you know, cried the whole way home. But
Expect nothing less.
But realizing again, the changes that that are made because of AVID.
Even if it's just that one kid. Yeah. I mean, it's not going to be one, it isn't just me a lot of kids, but even if it's that one kid and that difference has been made for them, then it's totally worth it,
Your work is done.
So before we wrap up,
okay, what do you got?
Would you have been an AVID student in high school, because I know.
You know, I would not have been, I would not have been an AVID student. But both of my parents would have been both of my parents were the very first ones in their families to go to college. You know, my dad got to go because he was an athlete. And my mom got to go because of her own tenacity, you know, and she was told that she wasn't going to school that she wasn't college material. You know, and then I mean, think about the different times. And you know, it was a little a little chocolate drop in her high school, you know, there was like, oh, well, college isn't for you. But maybe you can look at some of these different things. And she worked until she found somebody, you know, a counselor who said, yes, you can go, you know, my, my grandmother didn't want her to go, you know, matter of fact, cried, you know, collapsed in the street as my mom was driving me away. But they both went to college. And because of that growing up, it was never, I never said if I go to college, it was always when I go to college, I'm going to do this. And when I add I'm going to choose this college. And so that was always the expectation. So I wouldn't have been an AVID student, both of them would have been prime AVID students. But again, just that change that education makes because then for, for me and for my sister, that was the expectation. And it was not going to college wasn't an option. And so for you know, for my nephew, not an option, he knew he was going for my kid. She knows she's going. And so it didn't change because of AVID, but it changed because of education. And I think about how much easier things would have been for my parents, if there had been AVID at that time. And there had been, you know, Mary Katherine Swanson to put them on the right path. Shout out to Mary Katherine. But needing somebody to put them on that path. And but you would have been an AVID student.
I would have. I wish I would have admit, like what I've taken it though, like when I've had that drive to be like, Yeah, I need this or be like, Oh, that's a lot of extra work. And like, because my expectation was that we would go to college, my parents, you know. So I'm the first person in my family to graduate from school, like, my parents had gotten some college classes, things like that. And so, but my school didn't, I don't feel like pushed it the way that they could have with college. Like people don't really talk to us about it. I wasn't pushed into like AP classes. My government teacher was like, Why aren't you in my AP class? And I'm like, no, no, no. And he's like you Should we maybe class, I'm like him, but I can take this one. And it's a lot less work because I don't know what I'm gonna be doing. So why don't you take these classes. And so it was more of like, I just need to get through this. I'm gonna get this done. And I was in theater and busy with that. And so that was to me what my thing was. But then I went to I was 17. I graduated from high school because I started school early. And I went to Chaffey College and I almost like dropped out where I was like, What is this? Like? This is everyone from high school because it's literally up the street, right? You know, so I went to Rancho Cucamonga High School. And so there's J feet is right over on Haven, and
well, it's UCLH. University of California left on Haven
Never heard that before. We used to call it a Harvard on the hill. Yep, that's like that one. I haven't though. Um, and so like, but everyone was from my high school. And so I was like, I'm just in high school over again, like, I don't know what I want to do. I had a horse like down the street. And so in between my classes, I would go ride, and I'm like, I could just be doing this. I was working in and out, I was making good money. I was like, man, and so I almost stopped. My dad was like, you realize if you finish this, you know, just getting my AA, you were the first person in our family to graduate college. And I was like, that's probably worth it like to just get that title. And like, my grandpa was an inventor like big time. He came from like the slums of Boston over to California, and like, he didn't go to college and like back then you could do that sort of thing, right? And do that now. Like he invented the circuit board for the heat seeking missile, like he's like this genius and like, he took some classes at MIT. And, but I didn't know any of that back then I just knew this was his job. And it didn't like hit me that, that I would be the first you know, and I think I'm still honestly the first with all my degrees. And so that was my big motivator. And I wish I feel like AVID having an AVID teacher, I probably would have been on a better track and would have gotten things done differently. But I also think things go the way that they're supposed to go. And I was never shy with telling my students like how my college journey very different than most people where I went to school for two years, I got married, really young, still married. Throw that out there going on 18 years this summer. But no, and then I didn't go to school for a while. And then I went back because I was selling houses. And I was like, this isn't for me, like I need to do something else. And so I went back and finished my bachelor's degree and then just kept going and did my masters and but AVID would have been, I think, a big motivator for me to have someone help me be a little more organized back then I could have used that because I feel like most of my organization skills probably came from being an AVID teacher and learning. And even even coming here, like you're talking about, like our planners that we keep, like everyone does something slightly different. But I feel like, I'm probably the most organized here than I've ever been. Because I'm surrounded by people who are super organized, that you have to be like this job would fall apart if you do not keep your schedule. And that was a big fear of mine is like, what if I forget who's supposed to be to school? Or what if I double booked somebody or whatever you're going to, by the way, happens to all of us. But that would have been helpful for me to have that direction where my parents encouraged me to go, but they didn't have some of that knowledge of like how to do it, it was just like, oh, do it, go do it. And they're such big supporters of me, like I'm put that out there that they knew. I think that I could do big things. But it would have been helpful, I think in high school to happen, you know? Well, I
think for everybody, you need to have that. That just someone to help you find your way. And, you know, I love that you can bring your personal story into the classroom. And so I would always tell my kids, you know that my parents were both the first and then they education is huge. And my family, you know, my mom was a teacher forever and worked at the district office. And you know, my dad taught and coached at Cal Poly Pomona. And so education was everything. And even so even with that background, I got to college and it was like, All right, I'm taking everything. And I women, I was a business major. Me. So I women I was a business major. And then it was like, Oh, I took a psychology class. I liked that I'm changing majors. And then I took a sociology class. I love that I'm changing majors, and then theater. It's like, Oh, I could major in theater. Okay, I'm changing majors. And I just kept changing majors. And so maybe if I'd had AVID I would have like, someone would have told me, you know, you can take these classes and not necessarily major in them. So I didn't do for years. You know, I did six years. Six years, six major changes, you know, graduated with two bachelor's degrees, a couple of minors off because I just kept changing. But, you know, so maybe someone's Put me on a specific path might have been, might have been helpful if I'd had an APA teacher that could have said, You can't do everything, because I wanted to do everything and learn everything.
And I think that's such an educator trait, though.
Oh, it is.
Because that's me, I used to tell people, like if I could get paid to go to college and just learn all the time, I would just go all the time, people are like, what I don't want to do that. And I was like I would, I would take all these different majors, I would do different things. And like, I just love learning. And I think that's, that's such an educator trait, I think that's what makes us love, because we want to pass it on to everybody else, lifelong learners. I think that again, like being that first generation college, and that just drives AVID for me to like, because like those kids are me, their situation is totally different than mine my whole life, you know, whatever. But it's still that supports needed, you know, or even like with you with trying to figure out how to navigate college. Like, again, that's such a big thing of helping them understand.
because I was driven. You know, it was like, I want to take all the AP classes, and I want to do all that. But it's not enough just to have drive. You need to have drive and direction.
Yes. Right. We've had a few of those moments, and
I'm not going to charge for that one. That one's free. All right, so our last question that we always ask, is, what's your best AVID advice? So to be successful, in AVID, you want to do this one thing? So Stephanie Downey, what is your one thing?
My one thing is, honestly just love the kids. I feel like that drove so much of my relationship with them, or just them doing what I needed them to do, because they knew that they were safe in the class that they could be themselves sometimes too much themselves. You know, but that was, again, that was their home base. This is where they're safe. And even the kids that I didn't have for years on end, they just, I just want them to be themselves. Like it's okay. Like, I mean, you have expectations, and there should be certain things you should be doing. But I still wanted them to be free to either express themselves and you know, certain ways or just to be able to walk in and know, like, this is where I'm safe. Like I can talk to her about stuff. I can ask questions I can you know, and so that kind of became the thing to where they just made the most random stuff. I'm like, why are you asking me that? And she because they felt comfortable enough to stuff I want him to repeat on here that I'm like, what? Because they just felt comfortable. And I think and begin, they worked because they were comfortable because they were loved because they were just like, oh, Miss Downey's class or, you know. And so I feel like that's the biggest thing for me, like, the curriculum will come. I feel like teaching skills will grow. But you can't not every teacher has that drive to love them. And it's you know, it's just it's more than a job like it's about them as a whole and developing them as people. And so I think that to me, was the biggest thing where like I said, sometimes I didn't feel like I was the best teacher on campus. There’re people doing way better things than me probably doing some amazing things. But I love those kids. And I feel like that was my legacy as a teacher is that they knew that's how I felt.
Kids first, you know, it's not about the accolade. So I love that idea of kids first, though, because that is not about, you know, a title. It's not about, you know, a banner to hang up in your gym or in front of, you know, it's just it's not about that it's about putting the kids first. So I love that. I think mine. My one thing is find your people. You know, we talked about that with the kids. But in an AVID program, you find your people you find the ones who, you know, I would ask my kids who should be you know, we have a spot open for an elective teacher for AVID who should it be? And the kids would unanimously say someone's name and it's like, really? That teacher and so yes, because kids know, they know who likes them, they know who cares about them. But find your people because when I started I started like I said with with Cheryl Johnson, who you know, was my people, she loved kids, you know, always put the kids first. Every choice that we made was for the good of our children, for the good of those kids. And then we found other people who were like us, and that became my site team. You know, we added in Garland and we added in Janelle We added in Sarah, who is now a coordinator somewhere else. You know, we added them Daniel Carrasco, who was you know, great addition because he was, you know, male and feisty and funny and the kids loved him. And because then you find your people and your program is stronger, your site team is stronger, and then also as a coordinator, my other great advice is don't do it all yourself. Delegate. It can't be just you.
That's not a good skill. I don't have that skill.
And I, you know, it's easy for me to say it now.
Yeah, when we're not doing it really, you totally should give this to somebody else and be like, no, no, I'll do it. Just give it to me.
Yeah, because I left. And, you know, I wish that I had delegated some more things beforehand, and kind of encouraged other people to take some leadership roles so that it wouldn't have been such a shock. But I never thought I was leaving. So I thought I got this, I'll just do everything. And so that's it. I think that's really important that you find your people and then you also that you know that you're leaving. If you do happen to leave, you're leaving your program in really good hands. And I left mine in the hands of one of my former students. Who, by the way, defended his dissertation yesterday. So now he is Dr. Kevin Mariemontez. Yeah, I'm only a little bit proud. All right, I think that was the world's longest podcast, was the world's longest episode. But a really good conversation
It was and I was gonna say, oh, hope people notice that the things that work well, to make an AVID family work well for making staff AVID family. Yeah, and then AVID school. And like, as you're saying these things about finding your people as like, all those connections are there like what is really good for the AVID classroom, right? It's really good for the adults. Like I said, I feel like most of my skills have come from being one and having to learn these things, because I didn't learn them in high school. But all of those things carry over. And it's like, AVID is so good at so many levels for people and not just the students, right, it was really good for the teachers, I feel like it's good for the admin, it's good for the district. And it's just seeing how all those little systems really kind of carry from one thing to the next and really can develop strong leaders and strong people and it's, I know we sound like we like are getting paid to say this, which we're not we love it. And so drink that Kool Aid and it's just such a great program. And I know most people listening are already AVID people, they know. But if you are not you need to get on the AVID train.
Yep. All aboard.
All right. So 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 for listening and don't forget to follow us on your favorite podcast app so you don't miss our next episode. Join us again next time for more RIMS AVID roundtable will save your seat.