Porter Elementary’s media center buzzed with excitement Wednesday, Jan. 21, as educators from cities such as Tempe, Scottsdale, Queen Creek and Prescott visited the school.
Principal Paula Warren welcomed guests with her Southern hospitality to get an up-close look at Porter’s progress since becoming an AVID (Advancement via Individual Determination) Elementary school in 2013.
The school was selected by AVID’s Western division as the location of the district’s first AVID Elementary showcase, which provides an opportunity for educators and administrators to learn more about the program.
“I was so impressed with Porter when I came here last year,” says Pamela Good, AVID Elementary program manager for the Western division. “This school embodies rigor. Principal Warren is an amazing leader.”
Though Porter has only been an AVID school for two years, its progress has been inspirational.
“Porter embodies AVID at a very high level of fidelity and is a model to other AVID Elementary schools in the district,” notes Mesa Public Schools AVID specialist Michael Garcia.
AVID is a global nonprofit organization, whose mission is to close the achievement gap by preparing all students for college and post-secondary education, especially underrepresented students. AVID educators are trained in proven practices such as labeled three-ring binders and Cornell notes. AVID provides research‐based strategies and curriculum to elementary and secondary schools, as well as higher education.
Like AVID Secondary, AVID Elementary focuses on instruction, culture, leadership and systems. It incorporates student success skills, organizational skills, partnerships and WICOR lessons (writing to learn, inquiry, collaboration, organization and reading to learn in all content areas). Although AVID is an elective at the secondary level, AVID Elementary is school wide.
“AVID teachers are trained in effective strategies to use with current curriculum,” Warren explains. “We all share the same over-arching goals, but each grade level chooses how they will reach that goal. Teachers, students, administration and support staff share a common vocabulary and voice. In AVID schools, students take charge of their learning.”
Every classroom at Porter has adopted a college or university. Classrooms performed their college chants for visitors, who found them inspiring. Over lunch, four sixth-graders took part in a question-and-answer panel alongside teachers. When asked what their favorite part about being in AVID Elementary was, the students overwhelmingly praised the organizational skills they’ve learned.
“The best part is the note-taking technique,” Madyson Santos says. “We can go back to our notes and learn step-by-step what we’re doing.”
Allie Nielsen agrees. “As a visual learner, it helps me understand math more clearly.”
Many AVID Elementary students move on to AVID in junior high and high school.
“One of the key elements is promoting a growth mindset among young learners,” Garcia says. “We want them to learn that hard work, effort and willingness to persist in learning is what causes intelligence to grow.”