Palos Verdes High School

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CEEB Code: 052358 PVPUSD

AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination)

Coordinator: Jennifer Egan
Room: 401
310-378-8471 Ext. 701

Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID)

AVID is a program targeting the academic middle students. It serves approximately 19% of the PVHS student body. PVHS AVID recruits 8th graders with a target GPA range of 2.5 to 3.0 who have the desire to go to college as well as the willingness to work hard. These students have the capability of completing a rigorous curriculum. However, in middle school they were falling short of their potential. AVID increases rigor by providing a challenging curriculum, teaching study skills and organization as well as offering academic support. As a result, students in the PVHS AVID program maintain an average GPA of 3.3 with 89% passing all of their classes with C’s or better. On average, 46% of AVID seniors complete at least 1 advanced placement class during high school.
AVID students have the opportunity to enroll in some of the most difficult classes, which include honors and Advanced Placement. Concurrently, they enroll in the AVID elective class. During the AVID elective class, which meets every other day on the block schedule, students learn organizational and study skills. In addition, they work on critical thinking skills by learning to ask probing questions, receive academic help from peers and college tutors, and participate in enrichment and motivational activities that make college attainable. At the same time, their self-images improve, and they learn to become academically successful leaders and role models for other students.
AVID Curriculum

The college readiness curriculum is driven by the WICOR method, which stands for writing, inquiry, collaboration, organization and reading. Each grade level reads 1-2 novels per year. Novel units include class discussion, research and writing. Also, student presentation skills are honed in monthly Socratic seminars and philosophical chairs. Students master note-taking skills since Cornell notes is an essential component of the AVID curriculum. Student notes are assessed every two weeks.

One cornerstone of the curriculum is tutorial. Students collaborate, with the aid of a tutor or teacher facilitator, to master difficult concepts from their core classes. Students participate in tutorial 3 out of 5 classes.College test preparation is emphasized in the sophomore and junior curriculum. Students prepare for the PSAT, SAT and ACT in AVID class with the support of outside test preparation companies such as Blue Train Tutoring and Study Hut Tutoring.

College research is integral to the curriculum. Students have the opportunity to take two college trips per year. Each trip catalogs 2-5 colleges. Also, every year, students complete research projects about colleges. The goal of the program is that each student identifies a dream college and works toward attaining admission. In junior and senior years, students complete college applications and essays.

Career exploration is encouraged through the Road Trip Nation curriculum in the sophomore year. In addition, the guest speaker series invites community members to share insights about their professions as well as about their career paths.


Jennifer Egan: Coordinator, AVID Class of 2017

A Redondo Beach native, Ms. Egan is the happy mother of three small children. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degrees in Literature and Women’s Studies from UC San Diego and Master of Arts degrees in Literature and Education from Loyola Marymount University. Ms. Egan began her teaching career at Notre Dame Academy in 1997. After teaching at NDA and then Bishop Montgomery (her Alma Mater), she made a permanent move to PVHS where she has taught since its reopening in 2002. She has been teaching AVID since 2004. After her first AVID class graduated in 2008, Ms. Egan jumped right into teaching her second class, the class of 2012. When not teaching or coordinating the AVID program, Ms. Egan teaches AP Literature (her other passion). Ms. Egan’s AVID class focuses on College preparation. While her students have sometimes referred to it as “AP AVID,” they all walk away from the class with the skills they need to succeed in high school and College. There is a strong emphasis in note taking, organization, collaboration, comprehension, College test preparation and College exploration. AVID class not only prepares students for College, but also helps them to determine the College that fits them best. While there is no other course that has challenged her more, there is also no other course she finds as rewarding to teach. Ms. Egan believes in the AVID program because she has witnessed its effectiveness. “I love teaching AVID because I am able to develop such a close relationship with my students. I have the unique privilege to watch them grow into adults and to support them in making the most important decisions of their lives.”

Tammi Sheridan: Teacher, AVID Class of 2018
Ms. Sheridan has been a part of the PVHS family since 2006. She is a New Jersey native, with a degree from Rutgers University in Spanish and Communications. After college, she and her now husband packed up her Honda Civic and drove across the country in search of new adventures.10 years later, they have built a life in Redondo Beach with their two children. She later earned her Master's degree in Educational Administration from Pepperdine University and also holds an administrative credential. Her first AVID class graduated in 2011 and she still keeps in touch with many of those students. Ms. Sheridan's personal highlights of teaching AVID are seeing everyone's personal and intellectual growth and fostering an open, dynamic and creative learning environment. She believes in tapping into personal strengths to succeed in school and life. "Our PVHS A-Team is second to none and working with the other AVID teachers and tutors energizes and encourages me. We are also great friends and I think it shows in the fun we have going on college trips and creating our fundraisers." You can find Ms. Sheridan chasing her kids around the beach on the weekends and practicing yoga in her free time. Namaste. 

Alex Morales: Teacher, AVID Class of 2019
No one really knows where he was born? Possibly in Cuba or was it Hollywood? His age is somewhere between 28 and 48. This mystery man is Mr. Morales and the AVID Class of 2015 teacher. Morales is a lifelong learner and has demonstrated this by attending LA Harbor, Culver-Stockton, Long Beach State, Western Oregon, UCLA, and a few other schools. Alex Morales is a father of two beautiful children – a fact that is indisputable. Mr. Morales joined the PVHS staff in 2009 and immediately got involved with AVID. Along with being a family man, Mr. Morales is also devoted to his Spanish classes, coaching baseball, and being a socialite. Mr. Morales enjoys finding teachable moments to share with his AVID students and seeing them excel in their core classes. Mr. Morales is a big believer in education and all the doors that it can open. Mr. Morales uses a holistic approach to learning while he understands that grades and test scores aren’t the end all be all – but does recognize it is the system we have all agreed to play by. Mr. Morales’ AVID class focuses on skills needed to be high school successful and college ready. In conjunction with the AVID staples of Cornell Notes, Tutorials, and WICOR, Mr. Morales likes to incorporate current events, Philosophical Chairs, Socratic Seminar, and Project-Based Learning with his AVID students. Students are also exposed to SAT preparation, from test strategies to direct instruction in Math and English. “Alex Morales is a misunderstood genius. His teachings have provided me with lessons in both life and Spanish,” read a posting online by an anonymous student.

Gailene Lancey: Teacher, AVID Class of 2016

Gailene Lancey is an East Coast transplant, having grown up in the snow belt of upstate New York. After graduating from SUNY Cortland with a BA in Spanish and Education, she eked out a few more icy years teaching in Syracuse, New York, then left the cold for sunny California. A state school junky, she received her MA in Linguistics/TESOL from CSU Northridge and has been teaching ever since. Throughout the years, she has taught Spanish, English, ESL, Computer class and has even run a computer lab. She has experienced K-8 schools, private & public schools, adult schools, community college and the American Language Center at UCLA. She has finally found her home here at PVHS, where she boasts, “I especially love these kids because they keep me young and I don’t have to wipe their noses for them!” Lancey admits she was a fan of AVID way before she started teaching in the program. “The AVID teachers are a great group to work with and I couldn’t have been more excited to join them.” In her first year of teaching AVID, she was delighted to have four classes. “I wanted them all to myself,” she reveals, adding that the most important part of her job is getting to know each student inside and out so she can help them discover their strengths and talents. She accomplishes this through writing assignments, presentations, group activities and fun activities like Fundays and group trips. She admits the first year is a handful. The biggest hurdle for AVID freshmen here at PV is to get them used to high school, the routine and the environment. Next, the focus is on organization and responsibility. “It’s a difficult transition for them to make – going from parents and teachers being responsible for you and checking up on you, to having to do that all yourself.” Lancey insists on being tough; she feels that the harder she is on them now, the easier the path through high school and college will be. She is looking forward to each day that one of her students gets into the college of his/her dreams. She promises, “I’ll be crying a lot in June of 2016…but they will be happy tears.”