Amid Budget Cuts, Acclaimed Program Continues to Prepare Ada City School Students for College

Ada, OK—The new school year has begun for the Ada City School District, and while seniors are entering their last year of high school and thinking of life beyond, 100 students in grades eight through 12 are already learning skills and strategies to prepare them for success in their future college careers.

These students are part of a program called Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program, an international college-readiness system designed to close the achievement gap and make college possible for all students. Over one million students in sixteen countries participate in the program to learn strategic note taking methods, develop organizational abilities and strengthen reading, writing and speaking skills. Students in the program are also required to take at least one Advanced Placement or accelerated course.

Ada’s AVID program also provides high-quality professional development for 75 teachers in the district, which demonstrates how to create and implement rigorous curriculum necessary for college and career readiness.

“AVID not only prepares students for college, it helps teachers be better prepared,” said Andrea Appleman, an Ada Junior High science teacher and former Ada City Schools Teacher of the Year. “It is a system that reaches kids who might need an extra level of support to ensure they are college ready. I have never been a part of program that has been as successful in preparing kids for college. During these difficult financial times, I hope that we will be able to continue to fund AVID.  It has made a real difference at Ada Junior High School.”

Ada High School is entering its fourth year of AVID implementation, and Ada Junior High will be in its third. Previously, the district received two separate grants from the Oklahoma State Department of Education to fund the program, but those grants were cut this year amid the significant budget shortfall. To continue this successful and popular program with their students, district administrators are currently writing applications for other available grants and are also seeking donations from those in the community willing to support the program’s continuation.

One facet that has helped make a tremendous impact on the success of the program has been the community support the district has received. Each student participating in the program is assigned a community mentor from Senator Susan Paddack’s Pontotoc Career Discovery Program or the Chickasaw Nation. These mentors bring lunch each month to share with their students and to spend time encouraging them, answering questions and helping them set college and career goals.

Said senior Dembre Weeks, “My community mentor has been extremely helpful to me.  She took time to encourage me and to make me feel confident that I could achieve my goals.  I will always be thankful for her support.”

Another facet to the AVID program is the implementation of the district’s Summer Advanced Learning Academy. During this academy, students receive direct instruction in the morning then visit a location in the afternoon that is designed to enhance the lesson. This past summer, students studied the history of Depression-era Oklahoma and the importance and impact of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) on both Ada and Oklahoma. Other focuses during the summer program have included the importance of communication skills and the significance of Oklahoma’s natural resources and their preservation.

“AVID has been pivotal in changing the culture at Ada Junior High and Ada High School,” said Paula Kedy, executive director of academics and instruction for Ada City Schools.  “Enrollment in accelerated course work has increased dramatically.  The students and the teachers alike feel that AVID has been a change agent in their schools. Not only do students feel more confident in their ability to be successful academically, but they now feel they truly have a chance to be successful in college.  Their social skills have improved, and their school and community involvement has increased.”

This past school year, Ada High School graduated its first group of AVID seniors who each received a college acceptance letter. With the aid of this program, the district plans to continue helping their students not only sharpen their personal skills but also realize the goal of being accepted into the universities of their choice.

For more information about Ada City School District’s AVID program, contact Executive Director of Academics and Instruction Paula Kedy at 580-310-7354. More information about the AVID program in general can be found on their website:

The above is a press release from the Oklahoma Public School Resource Center.