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Richland One’s AVID Programs Motivate Students to Think About Their Futures Before High School


Kamari LawsonHigh school is normally the time when students start to get serious about what they want to do after graduation, whether it’s finding the right college or picking their career path. Richland One’s AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) programs are encouraging students to think about those things as early as elementary school.


Fifteen Richland One elementary schools, six middle schools and three high schools are home to AVID programs. AVID’s mission is to close the opportunity gap by preparing all students for college and career readiness.


“This program not only prepares students for college, it also helps them become successful in college and afterwards. We help these students see what’s possible for them and ignite that fire within them,” said Dominique Bennett, the sixth-grade AVID elective teacher at W.A. Perry Middle School.


Some of the ways the AVID teachers help students think about their futures are by having guest speakers and taking students on field trips to colleges and local businesses. For example, students in W.A. Perry’s AVID program recently took a trip to the Riverbanks Zoo and Garden to learn about careers there.


Kamari Lawson, a seventh-grade student at W.A. Perry, joined her school’s AVID program last school year. She says she’s already started thinking about going to either the University of South Carolina or a college in Texas. Kamari is also starting to think about what career path she should take.


“When I grow up, I want to open my own hair salon and nail salon,” she said.


The AVID program not only prepares students for what they can do in the future, but also teaches them the things they can do now while learning in school. Simple things like organizing binders and taking good notes are seen as key tools for success.


Kamari says the program has helped her become more organized and pushed her to succeed academically.


“The program has challenged me to have all A’s in my classes and to make sure my book bag and binder are clean. It really helped me as a student and as a person because last year I was unorganized and I couldn’t find any of my school work. Now, I can grab what I need and clearly see where it is,” she said.


Bennett, who has been teaching math at W.A. Perry for 11 years, says she implements the strategies she teaches her AVID students into all of her math classes and helps share those strategies with non-AVID teachers.


“Focused notetaking is something we’re doing across the board and it helps with organization. Everybody is learning AVID,” she said.


Kamari is also helping her friends who are very new to AVID get used to how it works.


“Now that I’ve been in AVID for a year, I can help my friends understand what AVID’s goals are. My advice for students who are new to AVID is to focus on your schoolwork and make sure you’re ready. The teachers really push you to succeed. I definitely encourage those who aren’t in AVID to join,” she said.


AVID is offered at the following Richland One schools this year:


  • Elementary: Arden Elementary, Bradley Elementary, Burton-Pack Elementary, Forest Heights Elementary, Gadsden Elementary, H.B. Rhame Elementary, Hopkins Elementary, Hyatt Park Elementary, John P. Thomas Elementary, Mill Creek Elementary, Pine Grove Elementary, W.S. Sandel Elementary, South Kilbourne Elementary, Watkins-Nance Elementary and Webber Elementary


  • Middle: Alcorn Middle, Heyward Gibbes Middle, Hopkins Middle, Southeast Middle, St. Andrews Middle, W.A. Perry Middle


  • High: C.A. Johnson High, Columbia High, Eau Claire High