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Twenty-four teachers and administrators of TCU Schools attended the AVID Summer Institute at the Minneapolis Convention Center July 1-3. During these three days, teachers divided into groups called strands and discussed strategies for helping students succeed. (Photo courtesy of Jeff Eppen)

The Minneapolis Convention Center was a hub for teachers during the first week of July when thousands of educators and administrators gathered for the annual AVID Summer Institute.

Twenty-four representatives of Tri-City United Schools attended the three-day workshop, which helps teachers develop new ideas for bringing effective learning into the classroom for all students.

While most TCU teachers represented the high school and middle school, TCU Le Center Elementary teachers joined the workshop this year. That school plans to implement AVID strategies this fall.

The purpose of AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) comes down to helping students become successful in ways they find meaningful and sustainable, said TCU High School Assistant Principal Jeff Eppen. AVID, he said, takes learning to a deeper level by encouraging students to consider different possibilities as they make decisions. The program also promotes interaction among students in the classroom as they work collaboratively to find solutions and study outcomes.

“We’ve seen our classrooms become much more of a learning community, applying critical thinking skills, allowing students to really enhance their learning by digging in and having to make recommendations rather than just memorizing and repeating,” said Eppen of AVID.

Apart from helping kids become better students, Eppen said AVID is also about helping teachers become better educators. It’s not only an elective students can take but also a school-wide approach that helps teachers apply new strategies.

TCU High School teacher Family Consumer Science Teri Squires has used the strategies she learned at previous AVID Summer Institutes to implement more organizational and study skills as well as critical thinking skills into her FACS class. In taking on the new challenge of teaching an AVID class for freshman this fall, she attended this year’s Summer Institute with that demographic in mind.

“I believe the AVID methodologies and strategies help students be academically successful, and this class helps those first year high schoolers with their writing, reading and inquiry skills,” said Squires. “This class will also have the students work with collaborative study groups and specific organizational tools.”

During the AVID Summer Institute, teachers divided into groups called strands. This allowed them to interact with teachers from other schools and gain new insight from other districts while sharing their own experiences in return. The workshop also included time for each district as a whole to regroup and plan for the upcoming school year.

TCU High School English teacher Erin Winters participated in the English Language Arts: Writing and Speaking strand and walked away with new ideas she’s excited to introduce to her classroom.

“The great thing about AVID and the Summer Institute is that they give us the tools needed to bring what we learn directly into our classrooms with step-by-step action steps and options for differentiation,” said Winters. “Summer Institute really got me excited to start this school year strong.”

Reporter Misty Schwab can be reached at 507-333-3135. Follow her on Twitter @APGmisty.

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