RHS teen turns family passion into hobby

Story and photo by Airman Larissa Greatwood
86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
The Ramstein Middle School AVID tutoring class asks another student questions to help guide her to the answer Feb. 25.
The Ramstein Middle School AVID tutoring class asks another student questions to help guide her to the answer Feb. 25.

Twenty of the 34 years of its existence, the Advancement Via Individual Determination program has helped students at Ramstein Middle School prepare for college.

RMS adopted the AVID program in 1994 to better students’ education, raise grade point averages and give students optimal opportunities in the future.

Fifty-two students are enrolled in the program from grades six to eight at RMS alone.

RMS student Zoe Harrigan, daughter of Maj. Michael Harrigan, 603rd Air Operations Center, said the AVID program has made a positive impact on her education.

“I’ve been in AVID for two years, and it’s really helped me with my classes,” Harrigan said. “I’ve gotten more A’s, and I’ve always been an A and B student.”

The AVID program does not only aim to enhance students’ grades, it also helps them maintain the good grades
they already have.

Dedication is a must for students wanting to be a part of the program. Once AVID is chosen as an elective class, students have a one year commitment to the course.

“Students are considered eligible after meeting basic criteria for the program,” said Jonathan Petrick, RMS AVID coordinator. “Prospective students participate in the filtering process and the best students are selected for the AVID program.”

Basic criteria for consideration are:

• eacher recommendations

• ood attendance

•  score of five to nine on the Terra Nova Exam in reading, language arts and math

• ndividual determination to succeed

• reat behavior and citizenship

• PA between 2.0 and 3.5

The AVID program is not geared toward a particular class subject, but covers all topics in which students may be struggling.

“AVID is an elective course,” said Ryan Harris, RMS AVID tutor. “We cover every course the students take. Some may need help with Spanish homework, and students taking German can still ask questions. It gives the students a wider range of knowledge.”

The AVID program is unique because students don’t just sit down with a tutor who guides them through a problem. Instead, students stand in front of their peers and try to work out the problem as a group.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, the RMS AVID class does what are known as tutorials.

“A tutorial starts with a (tutorial request form),” Harrigan said. “We have to make a TRF from a problem we didn’t understand from homework or even an upcoming test. The tutor may choose you to do your tutorial on the board depending on what your (point of confusion) sounds like. The other students are only allowed to ask questions to help the presenter solve the problem.”

Tutorials allow the students a different method of learning through questioning.

“Note taking really helps, and tutorials help answer questions we might have,” Harrigan said. “It’s fun to have other students ask me questions when I’m doing a tutorial because it’s good to know I’m not the only one with questions.”

Even if they know the answer to the question, the tutors use a technique with the students to get them thinking. Students will ask the student presenter questions about the problem they’re doing to help them find the solution.

“We guide them with the inquiry process of questioning and don’t give the presenter the answer, but assist them in discovering the answer themselves,” Harris said.

Not only do the tutors help the students through tutorials and other resources, but they are also active in watching the students’ grades.

“Every Thursday we have the students print out their grades,” said Harris, who has been an AVID tutor since September. “We go through each class and work on things they’re struggling with. It’s always nice to see when the students are getting better.”

Harris says he finds his job fulfilling and feels good knowing he is sending college-ready students into the world.

“I feel like I make a difference in the lives of our students,” Harris said. “Our job is to mentor and guide students to be better in their studies. We teach them skills to prepare them for college and become productive members of society.”