By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

McNary principal Erik Jespersen, athletic director Scott Gragg and 17 teachers spent July 25-27 at the AVID Summer Institute in Denver preparing for the 2017-18 school year.

“It was just a great opportunity for more of our staff members to understand AVID strategies and be able to apply them for their instructional practices for next year,” Jespersen said.

McNary has attended the summer institute for three years in a row. Sixty-six staff members have been trained in AVID with the goal of ultimately getting to 100 percent.

“In addition to teachers that actually teach the AVID elective, we want all of our staff to be familiar with AVID and the instructional strategies, everything from how to take notes to be organized,” Jespersen said. “It’s just a package of good instructional strategies and we want all of our staff to have that experience.”

McNary, which had 200 students in eight AVID electives—three for freshmen, two for sophomores and juniors, and one section for seniors, last year, hopes to become an AVID demonstration school by 2020.

A partnership with NIKE helped fund the trip to Denver.

“They helped pay for a good chunk of that,” Jespersen said. “We’re thankful for NIKE’s ongoing contributions to the development of our staff.”

Each staff member was put in a strand based on the subject they teach and their experience with AVID.

David Holcomb went to the institute last summer as a social studies teacher. This year, he’s teaching a freshmen AVID elective.

The biggest thing he got out of the conference was collaborative study groups, or as AVID calls them, tutorials.

“That method gets a group of six to seven kids together and just helps them work through it and when you teach something as a student that’s when it sticks with you so it helps a student become a master of it but is also helps a student that’s kind of struggling with it,” Holcomb said.

Andrea James, who teaches English at McNary, attended the summer institute for the first time.

“I loved it. It felt like a summer camp,” James said. “I think the best part was just getting to be with out team in a different environment and get us away from here and I think we were able to think more creatively and just get to know each other better and work off of each other’s strengths.”

The McNary staff was also able to plan out the school year without the distractions of grading papers or other day-to-day responsibilities.

“It’s an opportunity for my staff members to essentially sit down and really envision, plan for the following year,” Jespersen said. “And because we’ve been able to do this for three consecutive years, our staff knows the direction we’re going and there’s a tremendous amount of camaraderie that our staff feel and I think part of it we’ve had an opportunity to sit, think and plan this and actually execute it when school starts.”