Teens are ‘AVID’ learners at IRSD school board meeting

Date Published: 
February 28, 2014

When students get the courage to tell the school board about a class that made them more outspoken and successful in school, you listen.

Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) is designed to increase learning and achievement for “middle of the road” students at Millsboro Middle, Georgetown Middle and Sussex Central High School.

“It really made an impact in a positive way,” said sophomore Guadalupe Guzman, who was once nervous about public speaking. Now she’s taking two honors classes and wants to pursue criminal justice. She said the friendly classroom atmosphere helped her open up and find herself.

AVID is an elective class that prepares students for more rigorous classes (like AP and honors) by teaching study skills, organization and more. This improves college readiness.

Kimberly Arriaga joked that she can be a little forgetful at times, but she’s taking higher level courses and is often “volunteered as tribute” to guide classroom discussion as Socratic summoner during debates. The sophomore hopes to become a professor of Spanish literature.

Guzman hopes to become the first person in her family to attend an American college, proving that she can do it. Other students shared their goals of studying technology or medicine.

“A lot more students are gaining a lot of really good aspects and abilities to become college-ready,” said teacher Nik Fair of students in the “mid-range who have aspirations or who are willing to work.”

In his three years teaching AVID, he said it’s been a huge success.

In other IRSD news:

• The Department of Safety and Homeland Security tested IRSD’s new comprehensive school safety plans in a recent tabletop exercise. Layfield said the district did very well. They just had to work through some bugs.

“I’m glad to report the small problems we’re having because were having them during drills,” said Layfield, so there’s time for improvement before an actual emergency.

• Natural gas is on the mind. Chesapeake Utilities impressed the Buildings and Grounds committee with the potential to save IRSD $22,000 in early years and $100,000 per year later by converting to natural gas, said John Eckrich.

Having worked in utilities, boardmember Doug Hudson asked about fee waivers for nonprofits.

Dorrie Moore of Chesapeake Utilities shook her head, “no,” but she would double check, adding that natural gas is regulated by the Public Service Commission.

Was Howard T. Ennis School part of the discussion, asked boardmember Shaun Fink. He requested that it be considered for natural gas.

Layfield encouraged all board members to attend committee meetings.

• Winter weather has delayed Lord Baltimore Elementary’s parking expansion, but three bidders have submitted proposals for work.

• Sussex Central High School’s wrestling coach, Phil Shultie, was honored for his 400th career win.

“We’d like him to know how thankful we are for boys across the years,” said Layfield, who remembered being a young athlete looking forward to the day when he could wrestle for Shultie.

• Superintendent Susan Bunting received a special gift from Chuck Hudson of Jostens. The company rep brought a ring to commemorate her representing Delaware as a finalist for National Superintendent of the Year. As a boy, Hudson remembered seeing her in the classroom. Now he works at schools across Delaware but “knows we have one of the best superintendents.”

• Millsboro Middle has a new agriculture exploratory. For the Future Farmers of America group, student Alexis Garloff recited the five-paragraph FFA Creed from memory.

“I believe in the future of agriculture … and my own ability,” she recited, calling agriculture, “pleasant as well as challenging.”

The next School Board meeting is Monday, March 24, at 7 p.m. at Indian River High School. Agenda items include topics that were tabled at February’s meeting, like transportation and make-up days.

Committee meetings are at IR Education Center in Selbyville on Monday, March 10: Curriculum at 3:15 p.m.; Policy at 4:30 p.m.; Buildings & Grounds at 6 p.m.; and Finance at 7 p.m.