The Humble Independent School District will hold a job fair on Aug. 12 for tutors interesting in assisting its AVID program, an effort aimed at helping students reach their full academic potential.
The program, Advancement Via Individual Determination, targets students who are capable of challenging themselves in school but may not be doing so. These kids are then enrolled in honors courses and supported with small-group tutoring and a study-skills curriculum. The ultimate goal is success at a four-year university.
AVID, starting its fourth year in Humble ISD, is now offered as an elective class in every middle and high school. Central to the effort are the college and some advanced high school students who visit AVID classes twice each week to tutor small groups of pupils as they transition to tougher coursework.
The job fair will be held 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. in the board room at the Administration Building, 20200 Eastway Village Drive. All tutors receive 16 hours of training in AVID techniques, and are paid for their time.
Returning tutor Raisa Byers, 21, a student at Houston Baptist University, said the work involves some social guidance as well as academic counseling.
“It’s so much more than you helping them with their homework,” she said. “To have someone besides their family to encourage them and be a positive influence in their life, it really does make a difference to see how much kids need that, how important it is to them.”
Byers and her 80 or so fellow tutors across the district work with four to seven kids in each AVID class. Their students must come to each session with at least two questions about their coursework.
“I’ve helped a student on their homework or review for a test and then they come back the next week with an A on their paper and say, ‘You helped me with this,’” Byers said. “To know that you’re helping a child succeed academically and personally and socially — it’s so rewarding.”
The tutoring is about collaboration, not giving hints, said Susan Tibbetts, who coordinates the AVID program throughout Humble ISD.
“It’s teaching them to think ahead about the questions that they have in their courses and then helping them figure out . . . how to find the answers on their own,” Tibbetts said. “The other members of the group will say, ‘Have you checked your notes? What about this?’ They question them to death and they eventually figure out the answer.”
This approach appears to be working. Sixty percent of AVID graduates enroll in four-year colleges, according to the Humble ISD figures. Another third initially enroll in community colleges; many later transition to four-year schools, Tibbetts said. Almost 90 percent of AVID graduates who enroll in college graduate.
“A lot of them, I would say almost without exception, didn’t realize they had the potential,” Tibbetts said. “They just didn’t realize that they needed to be in the advanced class.”
This success doesn’t happen magically, however. Supporting the students is a lot of work, said David Duez, an Atascocita High School history and AVID teacher.
Not only do AVID teachers work closely with the students for four years, counseling them through hard times personally and academically, Duez said, but AVID teachers also must monitor all of their 60 or more AVID students’ grades.
“Teachers come to me and they say, ‘What’s going on with Billy?’ or, ‘What’s going on with José?’ They want to know that from me before they even call home,” Duez said.
Despite the taxing transition to a more emotionally demanding role, Duez said the aim of the program and the success it fosters keep him motivated. He would have been an AVID kid growing up, he said.
“The biggest thing that has kept me going with AVID is the mission behind it and what it is that we’re trying to build, for not just each individual student but for our school and our community,” Duez said. “What AVID does is remind everyone we really should be asking more from these kids.”It was very cool to be interviewed about AVID and I was honored to represent the program. A couple of years ago I was interviewed by the local Kingwood cable channel about the program and tutoring as well. You can see that interview here: http://avidahs.blogspot.com/2008/09/tv-interview.html
Last year I was interviewed by another local paper because of our AVID program's involvement in Road Trip Nation. You can see that article here: http://avidahs.blogspot.com/2009/12/road-trip-nation-article-about-ahs-in.html