By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

After 18 months of coaching and a day full of evaluations, Patrick Briggs, AVID State Director for Texas, didn’t make Claggett Creek Middle School wait any longer.

“I congratulate you for being named an AVID Demonstration School,” he said on Wednesday, March 15 to applause from CCMS faculty and staff.

Claggett Creek is just the third AVID Demo middle school in Oregon, following Parkrose in Portland and Stephens in Salem, which received the distinction just the day before.

AVID validates schools for one-, two- and three-year terms. CCMS received three and will be re-evaluated in 2020-21.

“The longest I can leave you with is three and I feel very comfortable doing that based on everything I saw,” said Briggs, who visited AVID classrooms and tutorials in all three grade levels.

Briggs complimented Claggett Creek’s culture.

“I love your vision,” he said. “When I saw your vision this morning, it really touched me from the very beginning. Your vision that you believe all students, that means 100 percent of them where I come from, all of them are going to graduate high school ready for college and career.”

Briggs said that wasn’t the case at all of the schools he visits.

“I get out a lot and I see at a lot of schools, and what you’re doing for kids doesn’t happen (everywhere). You assume that all schools are doing what you are doing. That’s not the case. There are a lot of schools out there where they don’t believe in children. They don’t even like children. They are just teaching but there’s no learning going on. Here, there’s learning going on because you have a culture of belief that students will graduate from high school career and college ready.”

Briggs was also impressed with Claggett’s systems and shared leadership.

“One thing I say to a lot of schools is that they had such a great AVID program and then she left,” Briggs said. “That happens often. I love that you have systems in place that it doesn’t depend on one dynamic person to ensure that all kids are college and career ready.”

Briggs said he loved the innovation he saw in tutorials and noted a quote that stood out to him from the morning session—“Instruction is the most important intervention we have.”

“That is so refreshing to hear,” he said.

Briggs gave CCMS recommendations—continue high expectations; close the gap between AVID and non AVID students; refine Cornell notes, planners, journals and interactive notebooks; and improve gender and racial equity (AVID classes are currently about 60 percent female).

Principal Rob Schoepper congratulated Claggett Creek staff on the accomplishment.

“When we started this process a few years ago guys, we never lost sight that instruction is what truly matters and as we built this system, I have appreciated the reflective practice and the focus on improvement with regards to how we are teaching our kids,” Schoepper said. “I want to challenge us as a school community, this has been a fun process and this is nice, but let’s not forget what really matters and that is continuing to come together as a team, focusing on our kids so that we can provide them the best education and opportunity possible here at Claggett Creek. As principal, I want to thank you guys for the work you’ve done. We need to enjoy ourselves.”

CCMS began AVID in 2009 with one eighth grade elective class. It expanded to seventh grade the following school year and then into sixth grade in 2011-12.

After three years of declining reading scores, Claggett looked at its AVID classes and saw better GPAs and attendance and decided in 2013-14 to take AVID strategies school-wide and built a plan to double the amount of kids in the AVID electives.

Coordinated by Kelly Greer, CCMS has seven elective teachers Jon Shrout (language arts), Brad Dixon (social studies), Trista Lewis (Spanish), Donna Wyatt (health), Ben Dalgas (English language development), Stephanie Rabago (math) and Jenna Becker (math) for seven classes that reach 22 percent of students.

As a demo school, CCMS becomes a learning lab where schools all over the country can visit to see AVID at work. A showcase is scheduled for the fall.

“We believe that it’s going to be a real celebration point, especially for the Claggett community, our parents and the community have been behind this school for a lot of years and to be national demo school is going to be a real feather in everybody’s cap,” Schoepper said.