• September 18, 2020

AVID coordinator promoted to new post - Odessa American: ECISD

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  • Fostering Success

    Elizabeth Gray is the new AVID Coordinator of Post-Secondary Education for ECISD students. Gray will assist students who have graduated from ECISD with questions regarding their college education.

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Posted: Monday, August 3, 2020 3:30 am

As part of an initiative to help high school graduates enroll in college and get through it, Ector County ISD has named Elizabeth Gray coordinator of postsecondary education.

Gray was the coordinator for the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program for Odessa Collegiate Academy, one of two early college high schools on the Odessa College campus. She started her new job July 13.

It’s kind of a continuation of what she was doing, but now she’ll serve students in the whole district.

“That means I get to help all the ECISD seniors be successful after they graduate high school,” Gray said. “We get a lot of kids that get into college that don’t enroll in college or get to the campus.”

Amy Anderson, AVID director for ECISD, said the district loses 30 percent of students between high school graduation and stepping foot on a college campus.

“Life happens,” Anderson said when asked why this happens. “I think it’s the same way that as adults. We have these grand plans and this is what we want, but then life happens; COVID happens; parents lose their jobs; I don’t have any money; I don’t have a way to get there; I don’t have housing. There’s all these different components that maybe they didn’t have quite ironed out and then they panic or they get a really good job where they feel like they’re making great money because it’s the best job they’ve had so far.”

Once they graduate high from high school, Gray said, they lose the support they had from teachers and counselors.

“That’s hopefully what I can put back into their life. We have the whole AVID department for sure,” Gray said.

Anderson said this builds off of what AVID is doing. AVID’s mission is to close the achievement gap by preparing students for college success in a global society, but it also supports students and helps with organization, time management and note taking. People in the program are bonded by the experience.

AVID is available in higher education. This year, a pilot program is being conducted with AVID seniors and hopefully within the next year or two, they will be able to support all ECISD seniors, Anderson said.

Anderson said some communities have the “to and through initiative” and it’s a community wide effort, which is something they plan for Odessa.

“It’s also been done by college campuses. They have little camps in the summer, different types of bridging activities to increase their college enrollment so they’re doing it to increase their enrollment and capture those kids,” Anderson said.

“We’re just trying to fill in what we see as a gap and bridge that from public education to higher education, or certification, or the military so having someone that is that liaison between all of them,” she added.

Gray said she will work to do whatever is best for students to help them achieve success.

Before Superintendent Scott Muri came on board, Anderson said they were looking at persistence data that showed which students were completing a college degree (associate or bachelor’s), getting an industry certification, or military service.

“… We wanted to start tracking our kids better with AVID. That’s when we realized that we’re losing a majority of them. They’re not completing and we think that they are the very best prepared to complete and so we started thinking about what can we do? How can we support these kids after graduation and then Dr. Muri said well let’s not just support AVID kids. All kids need it and I’m all aboard for that,” Anderson said.

Gray said she’s only had two graduating classes, but recently she helped someone from the class of 2019 apply and register at UTPB.

“So even a year later, he knew that he could email me and I could help him,” Gray said.

She added that the “to and through” program will be more universal.

“She’s taking what she did in class and amping that up to do it for everyone in ECISD,” Anderson said. “It’s going to be a little bit before we can see the results of our efforts because of course that’s a data that tells about six years out so for the class of 2020 with our 280 avid students it will be 2026 before we know that new data for them then so forth with each graduating class.”

In the class of 2013, 6.5 percent of ECISD students successfully completed a technical certification or two or four year degree after six years. But 55 percent of students in that class enrolled in a technical, two- or four-year institution, Muri has said.

Muri also talked about how students can be mentored through the next step up their educational journey.

Anderson said in one of their leadership conversations, an ECISD alumni association was discussed so students could network beyond the five high schools so they could become a community to support each other.

“We’re hoping to partner with all the schools and adopt an alumni program to also build that support system back in Odessa when they might be out of town or out of state going to college,” Gray said.

After you graduate from high school, Anderson said life is set up a little differently.

“You don’t necessarily have those supports. They’re not automatically there for you, so we’re going to start talking to them about how to build those supports, how to build those networks, giving them kind of daily tidbits just to be successful at life and at whatever they’re doing whether that’s college technical school military or career,” Anderson said.

Gray, who will be starting her eighth year with ECISD, said they also want to support families through family workshops or family emails to help support newly graduated students.

Anderson said she is glad to have Gray on board. Gray, who has a bachelor’s degree in history from Texas Woman’s University and a master’s in professional education from University of Texas Permian Basin, is now studying mechanical engineering with an aerospace focus at UTPB.

“… I’m super excited that she’s on board and she just is the right person for the job. She’s actually going to college right now and she has a beautiful story of just her own educational journey so she knows what these kids need …,” Anderson said.

Anderson said they are hoping to set up a system where students can call the “to and through” department and get advice.

There are various ways to reach Anderson and Gray. There is a Remind app and Gray can be reached at 432-279-1301.

Anderson said she doesn’t know if there are plans to add to the department, but they are all about what students need.

“So if students need more support, then I know that we will be giving more support and … whatever that means we are student driven so whatever our students communicate or as we’re studying and tracking we see that they need we will meet that need whether that be personnel, more frequent support, more community involvement; whatever that, is we are willing to do (it),” Anderson said.

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