Posted by Al Anile
Jason Stanford AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) Site Coordinator
After serving many years as a policeman (both his dad and uncle were also police officers), Jason Stanford wanted to experience a different side of life by becoming a teacher. With social studies being one of his favorite subjects, he sought a teaching position as a Social Studies Teacher at Niles West. Not only did he become a Social Studies teacher, he is also the AVID Site Coordinator and Mock Trial Coach. He enjoys helping students reach their personal and professional goals. At this virtual club meeting, Jason shared information about a new academic program for the 2020-2021 school year at Niles West called AVID.
AVID stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination. AVID is an elective class designed to close the achievement gap. Niles West AVID students are Freshmen (ages 14-15) in the academic middle (earning mostly B’s/C’s) who work hard and want to be prepared to succeed in college, career, and life. Part of the AVID program is to invite guest speakers to come into the AVID Elective Class to inform students about the many different career options that are available to them.  Jason said that he and his colleagues are seeking a variety of career professionals to speak to the AVID students. Guest speakers may have an associate, bachelor or advanced degree, but this is certainly not a requirement. Professions that may not require a traditional degree such as a plumber, electrician, military, artists, etc., are welcomed and encouraged. The goal of the guest speaker program is to introduce students to a wide variety of careers. Guest speakers will have 42 minutes to speak to each class. Currently there are two AVID elective classes with approximately twenty students in each class. The classes are from 8:10am - 8:52am and from 8:57am - 9:39am and the speaker has the entire class time to present and take questions from the students. Fridays would be the preferential day to have guest speakers; however, there may be some flexibility to work around a speaker's schedule. 
Jason and his colleagues are hoping the presentations to students will accomplish two goals: one is to inform the student about their career, and the second is to inspire students to pursue that career if they are interested. The presentation format for our guest speakers is entirely up to the speaker. The guest speaker can use a slide deck/PowerPoint or they can simply talk to the class. Guest speakers in other AVID programs have also brought in handouts about their company, handouts about their careers or even given marketing material (stress balls, pens, lanyards, etc.) to the students. These are suggestions and are not mandatory to be a guest speaker at Niles West. 

If anyone is interested in speaking and sharing their career area during one of the AVID Elective Classes, please click here to complete an interest form, preferably by June 1st. If you have any questions, please contact Jason Stanford at or 847-626-2872, or Skokie Valley Rotary Club member Lisa Edelson at