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Riverwood International Charter School Graduates First AVID Students

Riverwood International Charter School adopted AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) in 2014 and saw its first participants receive their high school diplomas in May 2018. AVID is an established college-readiness program designed to increase school-wide learning and performance for all students, especially for diverse and underrepresented demographic groups. Thanks to funding from the Riverwood Foundation and a generous grant from the Sandy Springs Society​, AVID teacher training and implementation began in the summer of 2014.

The initial group began the AVID program as 9th graders in August 2014. Fast forward four years and these 27 students are now Riverwood graduates, proudly marching wearing their AVID stoles over their graduation gowns. Congratulations to Luis Alvarado-Petata, Julisa Bautista Flores, Paige Bradshaw, Amarai Brown, Angel Candelas, Denise Cervantes, Jesus Flores, Prince Gaines, Fabain Gomez Salgado, Destine Hardnett,Jose Hernandez, Olivia Lampkin, Crystal Marin Lopez, Jabari Marts, Maria Mendoza, Rosa Moctezuma-Mier, Josseline Nicacio, Xavier Palacios-Santana, Braxton Peoples, Phillia Prior, Georgia Ramos, Brittany Rhodes, Maia Stapleton, Megan Ta, Flor Valle Garcia, Byron Woodard, and Daniela Zepeda Ibarra. AVID graduate Georgia Ramos states, “Without AVID I am unsure of where I would stand… I’m not sure I would have gotten so far because AVID always pushed me to my limits and helped me to succeed. AVID is a great program and I believe students who have the willingness to become something great should be a part of.”

Of the 27 seniors completing the four-year program in May, all but one have already determined which college they will attend in the fall. The one remaining student is waiting to make a decision. While most are enrolling in-state schools, several are attending out of state institutions:  NYU (1), Huntingdon College (1), and Santa Monica College (1). The in-state distribution is as follows: Georgia State University will receive the most AVID graduates (10), followed by Georgia Gwinnett College (6), the University of West Georgia (3), Kennesaw State University (2), Columbus State University (1), and Young Harris College (1).

Flor Valle, another AVID graduate, remarks “I realized that AVID was not just a class and the students there were not just classmates, we were all family. AVID will forever be an unforgettable experience. I gained many skills that I need for college like being more organized, always having a set schedule, and doing more than what is expected. Socially, I have gained more confidence and would like to continue to take risks and going out of my comfort zone, just as Coach Jenkins pushed us to do.”

Next school year, 138 students across all grade levels will be in Riverwood’s 2018-19 AVID program. The Class of 2019 will have 24 students; the Class of 2020 will have 36; the Class of 2021 will have 35; and the entering Class of 2022 will have 43 students. Furthermore, after the summer 2018 AVID teacher training, half of the entire academic staff will be AVID trained, and will be implementing AVID strategies throughout the school.

AVID graduate Xavier Palacios explains “Without AVID, I’d probably still be rushing to apply to college. Instead I am applied, accepted, and preparing for the next step of my life. The many assignments over the years all served a purpose, too, letting us research colleges and our preferences, needs, and wants. AVID gave us a curve on college preparedness that was essential for the college process. Many AVID students come from backgrounds with parents who have not gone through the process so having this experience was key. Looking back on these four years, I realize the impact AVID had on my life. I worked on my procrastination, neatness, presentation, etc. weekly, and had an entire support system of teachers who wanted to help me.”

Continued funding from the Riverwood Foundation and grants totalling more than $25,000 from The Sandy Springs Society in 2014, 2015, and 2016 provide more than simply teacher training. AVID funding also supports field trips, tutors, and technology in the classrooms. Field trips to Georgia State, UGA, Emory, and Kennesaw State (to name just a few) expose students to post-high school opportunities. Equally important, tutors provide critical academic support and have access to iPads to enhance the tutoring sessions while reinforcing digital literacy.

Several Fulton County high schools and middle schools offer the AVID program. Fortunately, Ridgeview Charter School, which is Riverwood’s feeder middle school, offers AVID to eligible 7th and 8th graders. Having an incoming class of students prepared to tackle the academically challenging college-prep curriculum will ensure continued success.

Buck Jenkins, Riverwood’s AVID Coordinator, concludes “As an educator, the AVID program has been an amazing experience. To work with such incredible educators and students is every teacher’s dream. To assist our first graduating class and to watch them work hard to achieve their college goals is something that can’t be measured. At Riverwood, AVID truly is a family.”

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