Noble Elementary is poised to become the first school in the District certified in the AVID model of instruction. AVID, which stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination, is a global non-profit dedicated to closing the achievement gap.
Dr. Carol Dweck, the national expert on “growth mindset” and one of the experts that AVID follows in creating its methodology, describes learning as “taking informed risks and learning from the results, surrounding yourself with people who will challenge you to grow, looking frankly at your deficiencies and seeking to remedy them.”
Noble Principal Rachael Coleman couldn't agree more.
“I was presenting at a board of education meeting about our Peer-2-Peer program and there happened to be another presentation about AVID,” she said. “I fell in love with the program immediately. The intense focus on students having a mindset of being college-bound just screamed Noble to me.”
She spoke with Bob Swaggard, Director of Curriculum and Instruction, about expanding the AVID program beyond its current role as an elective at the middle and high schools. Swaggard then received approval from Superintendent Dr. Talisa Dixon and Noble was well on its way to becoming the first certified AVID building in the CH-UH schools.
This June, the school used Title I funds to pay for the training for teacher representatives from each of grades K through 5, instructional coach Teresa Ware, and counselor Trish Buckner, who will serve as the building’s site-based coordinator. Principal Coleman accompanied the team to the training in Tampa, Florida and hopes to use next year’s Title I funds to send a new batch of teachers.
The AVID program is based on four Essentials: Instruction, Culture, Leadership and Systems. Each plays a critical role in the school’s ability to help all students achieve academic success through a system of “rigorous curriculum and strategic support.”
Ms. Buckner feels such a shift is necessary for Noble students. “Our kids are already great, but this will give them the practical strategies to really succeed. And it will give the teachers the practical strategies to more effectively reach our students.”
She, like Principal Coleman, is most excited about exposing the student body to the concept of college. A main component of AVID is the idea that all students should expect that they will eventually attend an institution of higher learning. The AVID leadership team at Noble plans to incorporate conversations and research about college throughout the curriculum. Each classroom will designate itself as a specific college, decorating their door in that school’s colors and keeping up-to-date on any news from that school throughout the year.
A major highlight of the program is the plan to take each grade level on a field trip to a different local college each year, so that by the time they finish fifth grade, a Noble lifer would have visited six different colleges. Ms. Coleman’s dream is for the fifth graders to visit The Ohio State University for a multi-day field trip next spring, where they can sleep in the dorms, eat in the dining halls, and really experience college life.
Beyond fancy field trips, the AVID program is designed to improve instructional practices on a daily basis. Some of the plans may seem small – like having the entire building use the same color-coding for subject areas – but the impact can be large. “Then our parents will always know that when something comes home in a green folder or with a green tab on it, that means it’s science. That will be true for every one of their children in the building every single year,” said Coleman, who believes this can especially help the large population of Noble parents who speak limited English feel more connected to the learning community.
“We plan to invite parents and students to come in together in August to work together to assemble their new binders,” said Coleman. “This way, everyone will be on the same page.”
Ms. Buckner is cautiously optimistic about the change AVID can bring to Noble. “I hope that at this time next year, anyone can walk into our building and ask any child at any grade level about their plans for college or for their future careers, and that those children would be able to answer any questions. I think AVID can help us harness what we need to put our students on the path to satisfied and productive lives.”
Principal Coleman is well aware that any new instructional model can be challenging for staff to adopt. “So far, the teachers have whole-heartedly embraced this. But I have to support them as we encounter obstacles along the way. My job is to set the vision and then let them run with it,” she said.
“They’re the ones in the classrooms with the kids – they know best.”