42 BMS teachers to attend AVID conference

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More than 40 Belen Middle School teachers will interrupt their summer vacation to attend a three-day professional conference to expand upon a college readiness program.

Teachers implemented AVID, or Advancement Via Individual Determination, at the beginning of the year as a pilot program, and saw immediate improvements in grades and short cycle assessments and a decrease in disciplinary issues, said Belen Middle School Principal Sheila Armijo. BMS is now ready to implement AVID school-wide.

"What we wanted to do is make what we have stronger," Armijo said.

The Belen Board of Education recently approved out-of-state-travel for 46 teachers, costing $78,002, to the AVID Summer Institute from June 26-28. The district will fund the trip through the school's Title 1 funds, allotted by the New Mexico Public Education Department for professional development.

AVID is a college readiness program aimed at increasing school-wide learning and performance. The program "accelerates student learning, uses research-based methods of effective instruction, provides meaningful and motivational professional learning, and acts as a catalyst for systemic reform and change," states AVID's website.

"When they're in kindergarten, they all want to be firemen and wrestlers," Armijo said. "When they get to middle school, it's kind of a life-changing time for them and they have to start looking at what's ahead of them, so we make it real for them to get out into the work force and show them what the work force in our community is looking for."

With the New Mexico Common Core State Standards implementation for grades fourth through 12th around the corner, Armijo said AVID principles compliment those well. The state standards aim to teach students the same curriculum and skills nationwide to better prepare them for college or the work force.

"We go to Common Core institute trainings … and it just screams, 'AVID, AVID, AVID!' So we're really passionate at BMS to keep moving forward and training the entire staff," Armijo said.


-- Email the author at aortiz@news-bulletin.com.