• January 20, 2020

AVID Leadership Coaching widens impact - Odessa American: ECISD

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AVID Leadership Coaching widens impact

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Posted: Tuesday, January 14, 2020 4:23 pm

Since its expansion to middle schools throughout the district, the AVID Leadership Coaching program has improved the climate across Ector County ISD.

Twice a month, volunteers from a vast cross-section of professions across Odessa fan out to the middle schools to have conversations with 75 sixth graders at each of six middle schools. 

The program was piloted at Bonham Middle School last year. 

Amy Anderson, director AVID for ECISD, said there are 25 to 35 coaches. On a recent Thursday at Ector College Prep Success Academy, there were 46 students and 17 coaches. 

The mission of AVID is to close the achievement gap by preparing all students for college readiness and success in a global society, its website said. 

“Getting back into the routine at the first of the year is difficult for everyone. We break those habits and we lose momentum, so we’ll get (it) back. The coaches really devote their time to one campus and they do a great job. Life is busy; life is hectic; and everyone that’s being a coach has an entire life — family, jobs, everything that we all have, so they take an hour out of their day about twice a month and devote it to our students,” Anderson said. 

The curriculum runs the gamut from making eye contact, learning to shake hands and self-advocacy to setting goals, time management, test anxiety and how to be a leader, among other things.

Anderson said parents have asked if it’s too late to get their parents into the program and school officials have noticed a difference in how the students act. 

The spring ends with a celebration of a better me. 

Ector students Luis Soto-Suarez, 12, Diana Anchondo, 11, and Destiny Little, 12, have all found things to take away from the program. 

“I think it’s cool,” Soto-Suarez said. “It shows what you want to do. … It shows you stuff you don’t know. It teaches you how to think about your mind and stuff.”

He added that he has enjoyed meeting the different mentors. 

Anchondo and Little said it has helped them meet new people. 

Anchondo said you can ask the mentors questions, learn about their jobs and what they do in life.

She added that you learn to socialize with people more as well. 

“… You get to meet new people and that helps you make friends and collaborate with teachers,” Anchondo said. 

Little said the program can help students get a better lifestyle and motivate them to do better things. 

“… It’s really good and … all the people you meet they’re really nice and they help you improve so much that’s why I really like it,” Little said.

She added that it helps motivate her and teaches you good things to do in school, be nice to people and have good things to say “and not always the negative things.” 

Assistant Principal Reagan Paquette said the first time the coaches came, there were a few behavior issues. 

“And now it’s like they’ll do whatever they can to come here just to see their community mentors. They really enjoy it. I’ve seen a lot of improvement in their behavior during the day, even when their mentors aren’t here. They incorporate what they learn into their day,” Paquette said. 

She has also used some of the things the students learn in her job, such as shaking hands with students in the hallway. 

Principal Charles Quintela said he loves the coaching program because it’s an investment from the community into the students, which is hugely important for the future of Odessa. 

“… To me, it’s the biggest way we serve is through our kids,” Quintela said. 

He added the research shows if students have three healthy adults in their lives, other than their parents, it increases their chance for success by more than 80 percent. 

“This is one more adult to maybe somebody that may not even have that adult. So we’re already switching the odds on these kids …,” Quintela said. 

The adults show the students how to communicate in proper, formal ways. They also mentor the students and help build their self-esteem. 

“Those things to me are things you can’t put a price tag on. To me it’s hugely beneficial to kids that don’t have this type of connection,” Quintela said.  

Kristi Latimer, associate professor II education at Odessa College, said love of middle school students, her background as an assistant principal at Midland ISD and love of community service drew her to the AVID coaching program.  

“… This is the best way, in my opinion, to serve the community,” Latimer said. 

"It’s amazing,” she said of the program. “I really feel that the students benefit and they see that’s there’s people vested in them.”

Kevin Badgett, associate professor of educational leadership at University of Texas Permian Basin, said Adrian Vega, executive director of Education Partnership of the Permian Basin, asked him to get involved.

Badgett said he was glad to support the program. 

“I think it’s a really interesting experience for kids,” Badgett said. “I think it’s great for them to have an opportunity to have conversations with people across different professions and aspects of the community and get new perspective. I think it opens their experience to different possibilities" that they may not have been exposed to before.

Odessa, TX

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