Hesperia's middle and high school students know AVID as a program intended to teach students whose families have no college graduates the skills they'll need to one day attend and graduate from college.


Those lessons are making their way into Hesperia Unified School District's elementary schools now as well.


"This is our first year at Carmel doing it," Carmel Elementary School Principal Chris Mauger said. Over the past two years, the program has started to be taught in select HUSD elementary schools, and this year, six more schools picked up the program, teaching fourth, fifth and sixth graders organizational skills, note-taking, collaboration and reading for comprehension.


At the middle school and high school levels, AVID (short for Advancement Via Individual Determination) is an elective, but at the elementary school level, all fourth and fifth graders at participating schools are getting the lessons.


"It's not adding anything to the teacher's plate. That was a concern district-wide," Mauger said. "It applies to everything."


The main focus of elementary school AVID is organizational skills, he said, and all students have a AVID binder with sections for different classes and are taught to more effectively use the binder as an organizational and note-taking school.


The program hasn't been a tough sell for students, he said.


"They're loving it," Mauger said. "We've gotten great feedback from parents and kids."


And teachers like it as well.


"They're getting a much higher percentage of homework being turned in, [students are] doing better on tests."


And even Mauger has benefited from the program, he said.


"Every since we went to the training, I actually take two and three-column notes in meetings," he said. "It's helped me be so much more organized, and it's not even designed for us."


New school initiatives -- sent down from Washington, Sacramento, San Bernardino or the district office on Main Street -- come and go, but Mauger said he doesn't think AVID will be a passing fancy like some other initiatives.


"This, to me, is really going to be long-range and stick," he said. "It's not just 'here's a new idea on how to teach math' or 'here's a new strategy on how to teach a kid to read.' I can't imagine how any kid's not going to react to AVID positively.


"It's not adding anything to your plate; it's making your plate bigger and more efficient."


Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com.