Seven years ago, Red Bank Regional High School implemented a national college preparatory program called AVID (Advancement through Individual Determination) to help students challenge themselves to perform their best academically. All of this preparation has paid off, since all AVID students have taken at least one AP or IB course, the most challenging classes offered at RBR.
This year, the successful program has entered a new phase; one where seniors, who are in the fourth year of the program, lead the important “tutorology” segment aiding the lower classmen.
The program is different than tutoring in the traditional sense. As RBR senior and AVID student, Khalia Smith explains, “When the students have a question, the tutor does not answer it, but asks them questions using their own notes, homework or textbooks. This way we guide them so they can use these methods to find the answers themselves.”
The AVID classroom is a full-year elective that meets every other day for 84 minutes. During that time, students practice study skills using a successful study tool called Cornell Notes, and critical thinking is enhanced through a program called the Socratic Seminar, which stresses active listening and discussion. For thirty minutes of that timeframe, the students engage in tutorology where they have the opportunity to review lessons they may have not understood in their classes or seek help to complete homework assignments.
RBR Social Studies teacher Kyle Waltz, who teaches the AVID sophomore class comments, “Tutorology is a key component of the AVID program. The older kids help the younger students by leading them to an answer using critical thinking skills.”
In the past six years, this function was filled by volunteer graduate students from Monmouth University. Due to the college’s scheduling this semester, the graduate students could not participate in the RBR program. As commitment to community service is a key component of AVID, the decision was made to utilize the senior AVID students for this function this year.
“As a tutor, I see their (underclassmen’s) perspective,” says Senior Jess Scotti, who in her fourth year in AVID spends a portion of her classroom time with Mr. Waltz’s sophomore class. As I hadn’t learned the material in a while, it was hard at first, but when I started working with them, it all came back to me and I was able to help them.”
Guided by her AVID teacher, RBR business teacher James Young, Jess has already completed all her college applications and secured the important teacher recommendations for college.
The remainder of the senior-year AVID activities will focus on preparing the seniors for their college days including filling out the complicated government FASFA forms and seeking scholarship opportunities to afford the colleges they will attend. The students may even be able to explore and choose the courses they will take in their freshman year of college. It is anticipated that every AVID student will attend college, with most aiming to attend four-year colleges.
RBR AVID Supervisor and Assistant Principal Rob Donohoe comments on the change to the AVID program, “AVID has also been a real boon to our school in general, since in the years we have offered the program, failure rates have decreased, more of our students have gotten into college (including four year colleges) while many more students have taken higher level courses.”