If half the battle of doing homework is remembering assignments, having the right materials and staying organized — as most teachers and parents will tell you it is — 10-year-old Humberto Bedolla was on his way to victory.
The Caldwell Elementary fifth-grader neatly wrote vocabulary words in one column of his class binder: "injury, slurp, delivery, shrieks, decency..."
In another column he jotted the day's homework: a math worksheet on calculating range and a story using the vocabulary words. He made sure his pencil case had highlighters, pencils and a pen. Then he gave everything a once-over before packing for the day.
"It keeps you organized," Humberto said of his binder, part of a new AVID program being piloted at two Wichita elementary schools. "There's a lot of room, so you don't just shove papers anywhere."
AVID, which stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination, has been a key reform effort in Wichita secondary schools for nearly a decade. It is designed to steer students toward college who otherwise may not consider it.
This fall, fourth- and fifth-graders at Caldwell Elementary in southeast Wichita and Franklin Elementary in west Wichita's Delano neighborhood are learning organization, time management, communication and goal setting as part of AVID's first foray into the district's elementary schools.
"I wanted it here," said Caldwell principal Amanda Kingrey. "What better way to support our middle and high schools... than to teach these strategies to all students, starting in the early grades?"
Unlike at middle and high schools, where students must apply and be accepted into the AVID program, the two elementary schools have adopted college-prep strategies for whole classrooms or grade levels.
Michelle Hayes, coordinator of the elementary AVID program, said its goal is to "be more intentional about teaching college-preparatory skills — how to organize, how to plan.
"Traditionally we're so focused on content that some of those things don't get the kind of time or attention we would like," she said.
The AVID program is in 21 Wichita secondary schools — all seven comprehensive high schools and 14 middle schools — and serves about 1,750 students, said district spokeswoman Susan Arensman. With the addition of the two elementary schools this year, more than 2,000 students are enrolled.
The district budgeted $255,000 for the program this school year. Most of that goes toward teacher and staff training, tutors and supplies. Some tutor costs are funded through corporate grants from Spirit AeroSystems, Cargill, USA Funds and Gear Up, Arensman said.
AVID instruction at middle and high schools includes small-group mentoring time, where students are advised by teachers and peers. AVID is designed to help middle-schoolers make the transition to high school and to guide older students toward advanced-placement and honors classes.
Erika Dean, a fifth-grade teacher at Caldwell, said the goal for younger students is to make college seem like a real possibility rather than an unlikely dream.
"I always say, 'This is for college, we're doing this for college,' " Dean said. "Whatever we're talking about, whether it's note taking or study skills or staying organized, we try to make that connection."
Misty Schenck, whose daughter Jordan is a fifth-grader at Caldwell, said she's glad the program is expanding to elementary schools. Schenck's older daughter, Kayla, is in the AVID program at Northwest High School after being part of it at Wilbur Middle School.
"It's just an extra support system for those kids, and it makes a huge, huge difference," she said.
Years ago, her older daughter "did just enough to get by" in school, Schenck said. Now she's in advanced classes and making good grades. "It's been incredible."
At the end of the school day in Dean's fifth-grade class, Amya Stevenson and Kienen Walker scrambled to locate items as part of Dean's daily binder check.
"Pull out your math greatest-common-factor quiz," Dean called from the front of the room. "Who has it? You should have it in 10 seconds or less."
Amya and Kienen flipped to the math section of their binders and held up the papers, smiling. More hands holding math quizzes went up across the room.
"It holds everything you need. You know where it is," Amya said.
"Once it's organized, it's not even heavy," added Kienen. "I can do my work because I have everything together."