Taos Municipal Schools

Students in the Taos Municipal Schools District are utilizing the AVID Tutor program to improve educational outcomes in and out of class. AVID, which stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination, is an elective program that puts student tutors into K-12 classrooms.

"They're giving back. They're making a difference. They're learning how to be better leaders," said Emy Martínez-DeHerrera, the AVID Site Coordinator at Taos High School.

The national program places high school juniors and seniors into classrooms to teach, coach and mentor younger students. Tutoring topics can range from academic coursework to college preparation to social and emotional learning strategies.

Middle and high school students who get help from AVID Tutors do so through AVID Elective classes. Students in elementary school gain access to AVID Tutors at the invitation of their classroom teacher.

"As tutors, we are role models and leaders for the students," said Ella Green, a THS senior and AVID Tutor. "I think I have an impact on students because I can reflect off of experiences throughout high school and help the students with similar situations."

Green is one of 12 AVID Tutors at Taos High School, including 10 seniors and 2 juniors.

"AVID Tutors are typically 11th- or 12th-graders. They have to complete the AVID 8-hour training, and commit to a period during the day that they're an AVID Tutor," said Martínez-DeHerrera, who has run the program at THS for the past two years. "We look at strong grades, consistent attendance, leadership skills, things that are going to make the connection with students valuable."

AVID Tutors sit in on an AVID Elective class on Mondays, and are assigned research articles, leadership podcasts, service-learning projects and tutorial guides. With planning and guidance from Martínez-DeHerrera and other AVID Tutors, the team collaboratively creates an agenda for the week. On Thursdays, the AVID Tutors meet up with the younger students and tutor them through tutorials or collaborative study groups.

"AVID is a great place to step out of your comfort zone and learn new skills and build relationships with other people," said Ricky Nichols, a THS senior and AVID Tutor. "I've seen my AVID class cover any aspect of education, whether it be a question on a class, a question on a problem, or even any type of college prep -- SAT or ACT."

"There's a process for the AVID tutorial where students give a 60-second speech presenting their current course work/assignment and point of difficulty with the assignment. Students share their 'Point of Confusion,' or in some cases, 'Point of Confidence' -- it's a POC," said Martínez-DeHerrera. "The group then works collaboratively to guide the student through the problem -- all students in the group are able to ask guiding questions -- 'Have you thought about using this strategy, might there be something you have missed?'"

"It's not a study hall," Martínez-DeHerrera continued. "It's an academic elective -- where students are able to focus on their strengths, to work on their areas of need and to have the support and build a rapport with their team of students."

THS senior and AVID Tutor Jamie Jenson said she feels like students don't realize how useful and helpful AVID is until they experience it.

"I would strongly recommend this program for critical thinking skills," said Jenson. "AVID has also trained the tutors in leadership skills, which are useful for everyday life and going to college and becoming a young adult."

Iris Vega Salgado, a THS junior, was an AVID Elective student for several years before becoming an AVID Tutor. "Being an AVID student really helps me be a better tutor, in the sense that I can relate more to students -- I can put myself in their position."

Salgado said the program allowed her to grow at her own pace, providing a plan for each grade level. "Being in AVID doesn't necessarily mean that you struggle academically," she said.

"They're giving back in a meaningful, authentic manner," said Martínez-DeHerrera. "They're sharing their knowledge -- not only academic, but in terms of college acceptance, test prep, scholarships and overall guidance from an upperclassman. They're learning how to be better leaders."

For more information, or to register for the AVID Elective or AVID Tutorial Practicum, contact Emy Martínez-DeHerrera at emymar@taosschools.org.

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