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MHS 2017 Graduate Victor Mendoza Shares his Inspirational Story at AVID Summer Institute in Dallas

Article|
Shane Mauldin|
Tuesday, June 27, 2017
  • Recent MHS graduate Victor Mendoza waits to take the stage at the 2017 AVID Summer Institute in Dallas.
  • Recent MHS graduate Victor Mendoza speaks at the 2017 AVID Summer Institute in Dallas.
  • The MISD contingent was vocal in their support of Victor!
  • (l-r) MHS AVID teacher Laura Smith, Victor Mendoza, MHS AVID and ISM teacher Brittany Southerland and MHS AP English and AVID teacher Kelly Armbruster

McKinney, Texas – On the afternoon of June 22, recent McKinney High School graduate Victor Mendoza stood at a podium under the glare of a spotlight in front of thousands of educators at the 2017 AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) Summer Institute in Dallas and told his story.

“I dreamed of making wonderful grades and being surrounded by amazing people who pushed me in everything I did,” he said. “I dreamed of going to college and majoring in business and eventually one day being able to support a family of my own. However, I knew that those goals were not within my reach. By the time I came to the end of my middle school career, I had moved five times across the United States and to three different middle schools.”

Mendoza speaking at the podium

Recent MHS graduate Victor Mendoza speaks at the 2017 AVID Summer Institute in Dallas.

Thankfully, his story didn’t end there.

Victor was one of only two students chosen to speak at this year’s Summer Institute, selected from a pool of more than 1,000 applicants. While it is his story, it echoes the experience of many AVID students.

The journey that led him to MHS and the AVID program was a long one. And, it was often difficult. But, AVID and the impact of some influential teachers helped Victor change the course of his life.

Last year, 1,057 MISD students took part in AVID, which has been offered in the district since 2002. AVID is a college readiness system structured to prepare students in the academic middle for four-year college eligibility. AVID students are enrolled in a school’s advanced classes and attend an academic elective class—called AVID—taught within the school day by a trained AVID teacher. The three primary components of the system are academic instruction, tutorial support and motivational and college prep activities. The curriculum is based on writing, inquiry method, collaborative grouping, organization and academic reading.

According to AVID, the program began in 1980 with 32 students at Clairemont High School in San Diego and now impacts more than 1.5 million students in more than 5,700 schools and 43 postsecondary institutions in 46 states, the District of Columbia and across 16 other countries/territories.

MISD is proud to boast three AVID National Demonstration Schools—Evans Middle School, Scott Johnson Middle School and McKinney North High School—a designation earned by only the most exemplary AVID sites (about one percent).

Beyond that, however, the district takes far greater pride and satisfaction in the life-changing impact that students like Victor have experienced through the AVID program.

This is his story:

“It is said that there are seven people in this world who are exactly like you, but I would completely deny that statement. I believe no two students learn exactly the same way, and this is how the education system has failed us. I believe that the AVID program makes up for what I call ‘the empty zone,’ the gray area between a student and teacher. AVID pushes not only students but teachers to set goals and to do whatever it takes to achieve them.

“Personally, I’m a very hands on, visual learner. Speak at me for 45 minutes, and I’ll pay attention, but I won’t understand as much as the kid next to me. Granted, I make up for that by studying my notes through the Cornell process, but even then I am bound in my empty zone.

“The beauty of AVID is that it pulls these students from those zones and into success. Teachers go through training, and even some of our students—such as our peer tutors—go through training to learn how to engage with and reach every kind of student. And, I believe that this is the key to the learning process—understanding the relationship between the student and the teacher to develop a way of approaching all kinds of problems. It is like the saying, ‘Give a man a fish, and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish, and he’ll eat for the rest of his life.’

“Essentially AVID is teaching us how to fish, and that is how the program has changed the way I am learning and the way our teachers are teaching.

“Growing up, I was a needy child. My sixth grade year, I was living in Idaho, and I ended that year with four grades that would not be considered passing in the state of Texas. I bounced around and was living with a mother who was mentally incapable of supporting our family.

“I dreamed of making wonderful grades and being surrounded by amazing people who pushed me in everything I did. I dreamed of going to college and majoring in business and eventually one day being able to support a family of my own. I dreamed of all the good. However, I knew that those goals were not in my reach. By the time I came to the end of my middle school career, I had moved five times across the United States and to three different middle schools.

“I entered AVID as a freshman in high school, and like so many freshmen, I thought I was the cool kid on campus and had everything figured out. I had never been more wrong.

“I remember our first week in school, and all we did in AVID was talk about short-term and lifelong goals. We spoke of organization and [Cornell Notes], and I remember thinking, ‘This is lame.’ I ended my freshman year with decent grades, I reached a few of my goals, and I thought to myself, ‘I didn’t need AVID.’

Mendoza at the podium

Victor Mendoza at the 2017 AVID Summer Institute in Dallas

“So, I dropped it my sophomore year. I ended that year way below where I told myself I wanted to [be]. I was lost in my empty zone. That was when I realized how much AVID had affected my life.

“Junior year came around, and I immediately knew I needed to be back in this program. I started to notice a change throughout my high school career. Teachers were engaging with me, just as much as I did with them, and I knew they wanted me to succeed. And, that’s how I needed my educational environment to be.

“At the end of my junior year, I won awards, and I pushed myself in everything that I did. My grades improved. I was inspired. So, I became a peer tutor. The AVID program has changed how I view my future. I’ve learned that the cliche, ‘If you want it, make it happen,’ was true. However, there was more to it: If you want it, you have to take it because the guy next to you wants it just as bad.

“AVID taught me that not everyone has to come from the same path, not everyone has to come from money and be shown every direction in order to be successful. It taught me that I can do whatever I set my mind to no matter the challenge. I’ve learned the importance of the relationship between students, peers and teachers in the learning process. It taught me how to be organized both in the classroom…and mentally when it came to time management. However, the most important thing that it taught me was the importance of C-notes.

“I discovered my potential in this world, and so I was inspired. The AVID program teaches me that I can succeed. It has inspired me to tell others that they can, too. I became an AVID peer tutor to help other students who struggle just like I did and discover their true potential.

“I used my voice to help teachers gain a different understanding of the classroom by engaging in conversation about a student’s point of view on the class, and I want to inspire students the way the AVID system and all my teachers have inspired me. Too many students are still lost in their empty zone, but it is AVID’s mission to fill that void. AVID has given me the tools I need in life to succeed in my mission, and because of AVID, I will be majoring in business economics at Stephen F. Austin State University.”

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If you need additional assistance with the content on this page, please contact MISD Communications Department team member Shane Mauldin by phone at 469-302-4007 or by email here .

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