Aine’s Education Highlight: Summer School, But in A Good Way.

Posted by on July 20, 2012

This week, I was able to do “fieldwork” with two different summer education programs. I visited college students working in education all over the city, and in very different fields.One student I met with is working with incoming freshman at the Roxborough High School Summer Bridge program to make sure they are ready for high school in the fall. Another event I went to was run by college students to teach current high school students about the college application process. The college students I met were all dedicated to their work in education, and shared with me their motivations and goals in working with these programs.

Roxborough AVID Summer Bridge: A Day With AVID Tutorology Intern Breanna Nicole Davis

On Tuesday, I was able to go to Roxborough High School to talk to Breanna Davis, a sophomore at Temple University majoring in Early Childhood Education. She is an AVID tutor coordinator and during the school year works in Harding Middle School through the AVID tutoring program.

AVID stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination, and is a national program funded in Philadelphia by GEAR UP (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) a federal program to fund college access programs for low-income middle and high school students. AVID uses a variety of different techniques to help middle school and high school students get ready to be successful in college. One of the techniques they use is to get college volunteers to tutor AVID students once or twice a week.

Breanna Davis got involved with AVID through a class she took her first semester freshman year called “Education in the Global City ” in which students had to complete a Community Based Learning (CBL) element for the class. Various non-profit and school-based organizations present placement options  for the class, and AVID was the one that most resonated with Breanna.

The commitment was for only one semester, but she continued into her spring semester because of the impact the experience had on her. When offered the opportunity to become a coordinator for the AVID program, and to intern with the AVID Summer Bridge program at Roxborough, she never thought twice.

“It just stuck” she said, “and it allowed me to become more of a leader”.  Her year as an AVID tutor has allowed her to get the experience needed in a classroom to help her become a teacher.

Breanna is a very personable, with a bright smile and open personality. when I asked her about the challenges she faces as an AVID tutor, one of the challenges she mentioned was trying not to get too close to the students she is working with; saying, ”I get more emotionally involved than I should, when working one on one with students there is only so much I can do as a tutor”.

Some of the highlights of her time with AVID have included: experiencing working with teachers and how they work in the classroom, learning how to approach weaknesses and strengths in a student, and learning when to take the lead to help students who are having difficulty.

The AVID tutoring model involves AVID students being broken up into groups of up to seven, working collaboratively to solve problems in a particular academic subject. College students each facilitate one tutorial group in the academic area of their choice. If a child has a problem they would like to receive help with, they walk up to the board and write the problem down. The tutorial group members are then supposed to ask the student who has the problem questions to help him figure it out on his own. The tutors help guide the students with the questions and act as moderators during the session. The point of this model is to help the student understand his problem, and have him figure it out himself, rather than telling him the answer off the bat (check out this example). It is a model that encourages student involvement and mentorship from the tutors, giving middle school and high school students a chance to meet and get to know college students, making college more real and attainable in their minds.

The Summer Bridge program gives students who sign up a taste of what an AVID class is like and what might be expected of of them as an AVID student. It’s a small program, of about 25-30 students. Because the program is so small, the students are able to receive more personal attention, teaching is more effective, and it is easier to partake in more activities and collaboration with the students. Breanna thinks that this initiative will benefit them in the long run, and give them the skills to survive and be successful at Roxborough High School in the fall.

If you’d like to become an AVID Tutor on your campus please contact Liz Shriver:, 215-573-2379 for more information.

PhillyGoes2College Summer Workshops: Helping with that Common App

On Wednesday, I managed to leave my relatively cool bedroom and trek to the Municipal Services building in 105 degree heat to attend an information session presented by PhillyGoes2College (PG2C) interns to summer WorkReady Interns about the college application process. PhillyGoes2College is, “a referral center within the Mayor’s Office of Education that helps Philadelphians of all ages earn a college degree.” During the summer, they have college student interns who are interested in college access present workshops to high school students about  the college access process in summer programs and community centers all over the city. The PG2C Summer Interns attend three different colleges and have a variety of majors and interest areas and personal backgrounds: Shakiya Canty, Ursinus College ‘13; Amanda Hill, Penn State and Perpetual Baffour, University of Pennsylvania, ‘15.

The presentation was very informative and covered a whole spectrum of issues or problems a student might encounter when applying for college. They broke down the process by grade level, taking a poll at the beginning of the workshop to see who in the audience was going into what grade in the fall. The workshop I observed had a majority of incoming juniors, so they were able to start the workshop with a timeline showing what they should be concerned with in the fall.

They covered what classes to take, participating in afterschool activities, utilizing summer vacations as an opportunity to fill out their resumes, and starting the search for what schools they would like to attend. It was a very detailed process of what could be expected during the year, and it was advice that when I was applying to school I also found very helpful. They then went through what to expect during their senior year; talking about what kinds of schools to apply to, the common application, an in depth overview of what the personal statement should look like, and  what to expect from financial aid. They finished with a question and answer portion, where the high school students could ask questions of the interns. They answered truthfully and gave fair assessments of their life in college so far.

It was exciting to see so much interest in applying to college. I remember it being a very stressful and confusing process, so it is nice to know that there are programs like PhillyGoes2College helping Philadelphia youth navigate those stressful waters. I was fortunate enough to have a strong support system in the form of my high school guidance office, and was proactive enough to want to learn about the process by myself. My week of adventure all around the city showed that many college students are interested in supporting Philadelphia youth through their K-12 education and into college.It was motivating to see college students active in an area of shared interest. The best part was knowing that proactive and engaging young people are willing to help Philadelphia.

What are some of the volunteer or service learning opportunities you have participated with in Philadelphia? Are you interested in learning more about young people working with high school students?  Do you think it is worth it to work with Philadelphia youth? Why or Why not?

If you’re interested in supporting PhillyGoes2College efforts on your campus please contact Edisa Rodriguez: call 215-686-0315 or go to for more information.

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