minaja_lherisson_web.jpgThree students at North Miami High became the first students at their school to win certification from Miami-Dade County Public Schools AVID Department as tutors. The students are Minaja Lherisson, Iyanna Pierre-Louis and Ralph Valentin.

AVID — Advancement Via Individual Determination – is a method that is used to help students who have grades in the low C's to B's become ready for college.

The program seeks to close the achievement gap among students, especially low-income, minority students who will be the first generation in their families to attend college.

Such students have average grades but they are in need of extra support to further their educational development, said Cherry Doctor, the National Honor Society sponsor at North Miami High and an adjunct professor at Miami Dade College.

Minaja, who will be a junior, was inducted into the honor society in her freshman year and became a tutor for PAL, the Police Athletic League. “Through tutoring, I learned how to collaborate with my colleagues to come up with ideas on how to give our ‘tutees’ better understanding of their academic assignments,” MInaja said.

“My experience as a tutor for PAL later prepared me for a position as an AVID tutor during my sophomore year, where I was able to provide academic support for students in rigorous courses through tutorials,” she said.

She is hoping in her junior year to continue to tutor other students and “help my generation have a chance at a future.”

Iyanna, a senior, is vice-president of the Future Business Leaders of America club and  historian of the Ineract community service club. She became an honor society member, she said, “because I like to help people.”

“When the Avid opportunity came, I saw it as a wonderful way to get money during college,” she said. “I plan to go off to college and major in the field of psychology in hopes of becoming a child psychiatrist.”

Ralph, who was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, came to the U.S. in 2007 and graduated with honors from North Miami High, with plans to attend Florida Memorial University’s Honor’s Program.

He has been a member of the honor society and describes his three years in the society as “the best times I ever spent tutoring and volunteering.”

“These activities allowed members to develop leadership skills and be a part of service projects within the community.  Furthermore, we volunteer to fundraise, and tutor our fellow students in order to give back to our school, which is where AVID plays a critical role,” he said.

He welcomed the AVID certification, describing it as “fantastic, considering the high rate of unemployment among 18 to  25-year-olds.

“I wish I could do it all over again,” Ralph said. “The experience we had somehow always linked to encouraging education or to crafting our personality to be a productive member of society from our youth.”

Photo: Minaja Lherisson