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Pulaski County Special School enacts program to help students beyond classroom

All PCSSD schools will implement AVID's methods in seventh and fifth grade classes with a few schools doing third and fourth grades as well.

The Pulaski County Special School District wants to make sure students have the knowledge they can use beyond the classroom.

This school year, they're starting a new program at their campuses.

Seventh grader Tatiana Romero isn't sure if anyone in her family has a college degree.

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"I want to be an exotic veterinarian," Romero said

But, it's a dream she and her classmates plan on making a reality.

"I just want to go to college and be able to do anything like get a bachelor's degree and I just want AVID to be a tool to help me succeed," Chase Smith said.

The Pulaski County Special School District is starting a new program to make sure all dreams are achievable.

The program is called Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID).

"What the mission is, is to close the achievement gap for all students. When our students leave us, they're going to be career-ready or college-ready," Assistant Superintendent and District AVID coordinator Janice Warren said.

AVID is a nonprofit organization that provides educators strategies to fast-track the performance of historically under-served students.

"There's a lot of collaboration among the students, a lot of teamwork, a lot of help and support for each other," Warren said.

All PCSSD schools will implement AVID's methods in seventh and fifth grade classes with a few schools doing third and fourth grades as well.

These students will learn about college and careers early on.

It's also available for ninth graders, but AVID will be offered as an elective class they can apply for.

There, they'll also have access to free tutors.

"Let's say I'm not a strong math student. Well, we will be working with some of the local universities to provide college students who will be tutoring those students," Warren said.

It's extra help some parents don't easily have access to.

"They don't have to go out and find a tutor or rearrange their schedules or they don't have to have that added cost. A lot of times, parents just can't afford to give that extra," AVID elective teacher and business teacher Toya Hill said.

Secondary schools will also teach students how to fill out job and college applications.

Ninth graders in the program can take the ACT for free.

They aren't just teaching students information but teaching them how to believe in themselves.

"A lot of times, our kids know what they want to do in school or after school, but they don't know exactly how to get there," Hill said.

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So they can go on and accomplish their dreams.

"What I really want to do is become a veterinarian. What I really want to focus on is saving elephants because they are very endangered," Jaden Brito said.

The district plans to start the program in more grades in the future.