AVID program teaches vital communication skills

Rebecca Ryburn
Contributing writer

***image1***During her freshman year at Kaisers-lautern American High School, Katie Robinson might have been described as shy, and perhaps, lacking self-confidence. But, as a sophomore this year, she’s speaking up and out.
Urban Teen Scene Magazine published a letter by the Advancement Via Individual Determination student in its January issue. Katie’s letter was a rebuttal to an article in the July issue entitled, In Your Own Opinion; War in Iraq.
In her reply, Katie wrote, “I didn’t realize how many close-minded people there were in the United States.” She went on to support President George Bush and the military in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“Last year I couldn’t imagine Katie responding to an article like that, but after being in the AVID program and particularly, participating in our Socratic Seminars, she has matured and is extremely motivated,” said Angela Gibbons, KAHS AVID coordinator. “Her self esteem is greatly enhanced.”
AVID is a national program designed to help high school students prepare for college. Students in the program are required to take advanced placement courses and are supported by their AVID “family” throughout the school year.
At the beginning of the year, study habits and organizational skills are emphasized. Later, current events are studied in an effort to raise the students’ awareness of other cultures. Guest speakers and peer tutoring are also integral parts of the program.
The Socratic method of questioning is used during discussions and tutoring sessions to develop the ability to think beyond one’s personal level.
The debates work because the AVID students learn to support and encourage each other. “Even though the discussions are heated at times, the students leave the class inspired, and sometimes even taking into consideration other opinions voiced in class,” said Mrs. Gibbons.
Many students, like Katie, come to realize they can, and want to, make a difference in the world. “Being in AVID and learning about the war helped me to learn more about the effects it had on the world,” she said.