Ruby Lee Strickland, AVID teacher at Faith Middle School, helps Cassandra Unrein fill out the demographics sheet for the PSAT Tuesday. This is the first time Faith eighth-graders have had the opportunity to take the PSAT.

FORT BENNING, GA - "I know I'm going to college," said 13-year-old Aubrey Sanders, an eighth-grader at Faith Middle School. So Aubrey signed up for AVID, a program designed for kids who might not go to college if their grades and determination don't improve.

Aubrey said the course taught her note-taking and organizational skills and helped her improve her grades in other classes.

"It helps us with everything for college - being mature about college, knowing how to study, knowing when to get our (work) done. I know it's going to be hard, but I know I can succeed in college. I know I can do whatever I put my mind to," she said.

"That kind of personal grit is the driving force behind AVID, which stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination," said Ruby Lee Strickland, AVID teacher at Faith. "The AVID class alone is not a magic pill for success; it is a combination of hard work, parent support and student-to-teacher communication that steers students toward college success."

"The mantra is we can advance, but we have to be willing to study; we have to be willing to sacrifice now," Strickland said.

Students meet for 35 to 50 minutes daily in the AVID elective class, where they learn skills that prepare them for high school and college. Activities include tutoring by college students, field trips and programs with guest speakers.

Dr. Robert Wright Jr., a Columbus native and recipient of the 2009 Horatio Alger Award, will speak at 10 a.m. Tuesday in the Faith Middle computer lab.

"He was born during the Depression," Strickland said. "He has worked extremely hard in civil rights over the years and was elected to the Columbus City Council. He sold the company he created, Dimensions International, a few years ago for more than $230 million.

"I'm trying to get speakers into the school who can talk to the children about the importance of math, science, reading and writing skills - that knowledge is power. And his life certainly exemplifies that. People's life stories are compelling."

The Tuesday program is open to anyone who wants to learn more about AVID, said Debra Alexander, AVID regional director for Domestic Dependent Elementary and Secondary Schools.

"Guest speakers are those people out there in the business world whose lives can serve as models of success for students," she said. "Students can see the impact a college degree can make in the world in the world, not only to themselves but for others."

Enrollment in AVID, which begins each semester, is open to motivated, college-bound students who have a grade point average between 2.0 and 3.5.

AVID takes care of middle-of-the-road students who are smart but don't necessarily push themselves, Alexander said.

"The gifted and talented students get supported; the special needs students get supported. Then we have those students in the middle who just get by on their own," she said.

"Those students are going to be the working force of the future. AVID provides support for those students who desire to create great future for themselves by putting in sweat equity now. The system really works. It's just amazing."

It's working right now at Faith, preparing 75 children for the academic and social challenges of college life, Strickland said.

"I'm seeing such phenomenal growth with them. They've made up their minds, 'I can do this,'" she said.

"The stronger my children are, the stronger this country will be one day. That is my goal for these students and their families."

For more information about AVID, call Alexander at 706-545-8236 or Faith Middle School at706-545-0310.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16