Bringing a brighter future

A goal for educators is always to help their students succeed.
Butler Community College has implemented the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program to help make sure all of their students are successful. They are the only AVID college in Kansas and are already working with several Wichita high schools.
The program is a college readiness system for elementary through higher education designed to increase school-wide learning and performance.
To learn more about the program, teachers and staff heard from three speakers about AVID during their Institutional Development Day last week.
Among the speakers was Jonathan Grant Brown, who lives in Texas and is a program manager for AHE and Marketing Communications. He also has been a consultant and staff developer for AVID for higher education.
He shared his story of how AVID helped him succeed as a young student.
“We have a unique opportunity as educators to work along with our students to finish what they start,” he said.
Brown went on to talk about his childhood, beginning with when his mother abandoned him and his brother in a park. They stayed in the park for two days waiting for their mother to return until a police officer found them and took them into custody. He said he was told he had to go stay with someone for two days.
“Two days turned into 14 years in foster care,” he said.
Because of that he put into his mind at a young age no one could tell him what to do.
He said his definition of mom transformed to mean the nice family that let them stay in their house until they acted up so much they had to go to another home. Eventually a judge separated the two brothers, hoping they would cause less trouble that way, but Brown said he became more aggressive. He continued to get into fights in schools and was told if he would continue on this path he would either end up dead or in jail. As he got older he realized he would have a new problem. He would be turned out of foster care when he was 18 years old. That meant he would have no guaranteed place to eat or sleep.
“I did things that would dictate I would not live to 18,” he said.
Then in his freshman year of high school he had a teacher who introduced him to the AVID program.
When the counselor asked him what he wanted to do with his future, he said it stumped him. He told her he did not have a future and explained that he was in foster care.
Rather than feel sorry for him, she told him he would face a lot of obstacles in life but every time he overcame one it would create a brighter future.
He then realized colleges have dorms and cafeterias and viewed it as his new “foster care.” He got into AVID and ended up graduating high school with honors. He went on to earn his college degree, graduating with honors.
“Success for me now is intentionally disrupting barriers that prevent young people from obtaining their goals,” he said.
He said the best way they can do that is through a college education.
The AVID program provided consistent mentors, with people focused on the student’s success. It also gives students intentional steps to reach success.
Also during the day, those at the training heard from Stacie Valdez, a national board certified teacher who has worked with AVID, and Yvonne Ortiz-Prince, who has 20 year of higher education experience.

Julie Clements can be reached at