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Pioneer hosts AVID showcase
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Pioneer hosts AVID showcase

Teachers and administrators from more than a dozen school districts around the state gathered at Pioneer Elementary School on Thursday morning to take part in an AVID showcase hosted by the staff and students.

AVID is an instructional program which has been adopted by Lebanon Community Schools. Pioneer is one of just four elementary schools in the state which has been authorized to host these informational tours.

Bridget Weldon, the area director for AVID, said demonstration schools are selected because they are following the program’s principles in all areas. The other AVID showcase elementary schools are located in Stayton, Lincoln City and Klamath Falls.

“We highlight schools that have effective practices across all four of our domains. Those domains are instruction, leadership, systems and culture,” Weldon said. “Pioneer, we consider they are implementing with fidelity across all four of those domains. Also, across multiple grade levels.”

Some of the visitors came from schools which are considering adopting the AVID program, while others come from schools which are in the beginning stages. The program is currently being used by about 300 schools in Oregon in 67 schools districts, including 216 high schools and 72 elementary schools.

Travis Opperman, the associate principal at Baker Prairie Middle School in the Canby School District, brought 13 teachers to the event. He said Canby has adopted AVID at the high school and middle school and at one elementary school.

“But the rest of our elementaries do not have AVID. So we’re letting the teachers explore and get experience seeing the model,” Opperman said.

Student guides from Pioneer led small groups of visitors around the school, stopping in classrooms of each grade level to see how the program works for various ages. After the tours, there were three panel discussions. The first was with Pioneer Principal Tonya Cairo and Abbey Walker, a sixth-grade teacher at the school. The second panel was made up of Pioneer students and the final panel included teachers and an instructional assistant.

“It’s highly organized. AVID is a systems approach to instruction and I think that when you see it in action it’s really impressive,” Opperman said. “The school I’m assistant principal at is an AVID school. We’ve seen the effects of AVID at that level.”

Cairo started at Pioneer in 2003 and has served as principal for the past seven years. AVID was launched at Pioneer six years ago and the school became a member of the showcase rotation three years ago. Cairo thinks the effectiveness of the program is clear from the test results at the school.

“If you look at our student date and our state report card, we are high in our growth area. Student growth is much higher than a lot of the schools across the state. I attribute that to the work we are doing with AVID,” Cairo said.

The program is not curriculum based. It is an instructional model based on best practices that is intended to promote academic rigor and high expectations for students and staff. Cairo thinks the primary reason for the program’s success is that it teaches students to take responsibility for their own education.

“Really the ownership belongs to the students, so getting them to understand that their teachers are their support and they’re the ones that get to own their learning,” Cairo said.

There are many tools that are used to promote this ownership. These range from physical items such as binders, to mental tools such as note-taking and question-asking skills. Cairo said the program helps build community at the school because everyone is working with the same tools.

“It becomes part of the culture,” Cairo said.

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