*The photos included in this article were taken in 2019, before COVID-19, when masks were not required.
Unlike many AVID classes across the country, the school’s program utilizes seniors’ high school experiences to peer tutor AVID students, rather than employing college students.
The AVID class provides academic support to first-generation college students throughout their high school experience, and eventually aids them in the process of applying to college.
According to senior Samantha Tejada Castillo, a current AVID student who became a tutor, tutors are trained to help facilitate group collaboration and discussion on academic questions between AVID students, rather than simply providing answers. In this way, students are taught to work through challenging material on their own, a valuable learning process.
“Having tutors was really nice to know that they were always there and willing to help, you have to figure out your own problem and they’re there to guide you to get to the answer,” Tejada Castillo said. “Knowing that there is a backbone and knowing there’s someone to help you find the solution is really nice.”
The program works to be centered around group work, rather than one-on-one peer-to-student tutoring. This creates a collaborative environment that Senior Athena Tulac said is something she particularly enjoys about tutoring.
“Sometimes I don’t know an answer but then everyone tries to help and it becomes a collaborative effort,” Tulac said. “It’s something I really like about AVID tutoring because it’s not just the tutor tutoring five kids but it’s everyone helping each other and it’s a good atmosphere to be in.”
As AVID students are encouraged to take rigorous courses and are given support throughout the college application process, the perspective of student tutors who have gone through the same experiences becomes very valuable, according to Tejada Castillo.
“Having a student that’s still in the same school and knows the curriculum is a lot more helpful and they can give advice from their experience,” Tejada Castillo said.
Tutor Jessi Jha says she was excited to be able to pass on what she learned from her own experience applying to college.
“I like being able to give my personal advice to students,” Jha said. “It was relevant to give them information about the [college application]process, to hear them be interested in it as much as I was, and being able to share my experiences is really fun.”
Both Tulac and Jha greatly value being peer tutors and describe having learned a lot from the program themselves.
“There is so much to learn for me as a tutor. And although it is a tutoring opportunity, it’s also a learning opportunity as well. Anyone can gain something out of AVID tutoring,” Jha said.
“I’ve learned how to be a role model and how to effectively teach and express what I know,” Tulac said.
Even with the transition to distance learning, the tutoring program has been able to continue to make meaningful connections between students and tutors.
“Working through problems feels like a way of bonding even in a time of social distancing, having that connection and consistency is really helpful and students get the most out of it,” Jha said.
Tulac also says she appreciates being able to continue to get to know and meet students.
“I like talking and getting to know the students and joking around with them. It feels more like we’re bonding and have a friendship, versus a professional tutor and younger student,” Tulac said.