BARR and AVID receive additional integration funding


Photo By Elle Guggenberger

Students sit around a whiteboard in AVID as they help their classmate with a math problem. This activity is what AVID teachers call tutorials, the goal being to help students pick apart a question to determine what it is that they do not understand. Teachers believe that this strategy has benefits for all students.

Elle Guggenberger, Graphics Editor

Schools take pride in making students feel comfortable coming into their building to learn every day. Stillwater has implemented many programs which allow students to gain support from staff and other students in the journey to their achievements. Two of these programs are Building Assets and Reducing Risks (BARR) and Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID), which have received $1.5 million total in funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“We have our kids listed with their strengths, their grades, goal areas for that kid and what can we do to help support them. We’re really specific in our spreadsheet, and how we talk about kids,” BARR coordinator Katy Pupungatoa explained.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation gave out $13 million to nine different anchor schools, SAHS being one of them. The BARR program received $1.5 million and it was decided to split the money with the AVID program during the Feb. 20 board meeting.

“BARR is a social emotional program. It has academic outcomes, but it’s all about social emotional learning, which means that if you feel connected, you’re going to learn more from that teacher,” Pupungatoa said. “That’s what BARR is about, getting the kids to know the teacher and getting the teacher to know the kids.”

SAHS was chosen as an anchor school because it has had the lowest failure rate across the country with freshmen. Pupungatoa believes this is due to “the intention and work the teachers are doing to support kids and figuring out what they need.”

The BARR program is targeted towards freshmen in order to help increase college and career readiness. Pupungatoa believes in the importance of making sure everyone has a skill set making them employable while still in high school.

“If you can get kids set up right in ninth grade, they’ll more likely be successful the following years. If you have a bad ninth grade year it’s hard to recover from that,” Pupungatoa explained.

Similarly, AVID’s mission is to close the achievement gap by preparing students for college. Minnesota has one of the highest gaps between white and colored students. AVID and BARR are similar in that they both work at closing that gap. 

“The goal of AVID is to be school wide. What we’re doing in this classroom is almost a model of what should be done in all classrooms when it comes to instruction,” AVID teacher Sarah Neitz said.

Katy Pupungatoa”

— If you can get kids set up right in ninth grade, they’ll more likely be successful the following years. If you have a bad ninth grade year it's hard to recover from that

The funding is given to the programs as a separate pot of money apart from the general fund. The money is intended to support marginalized students and can be drawn from by both programs as needed. The majority of the funding will be used in training all teachers in BARR and AVID over the summer to expand BARR into 10th grade and farther in the future.

“BARR is a system that really looks at kids’ social emotional learning. AVID does too but it’s more the instructional piece, like strategies that will help student engagement,” Neitz said.

“I pulled in AVID because we’ve already done work with AVID. The purpose of BARR, our goals, are the same goals as AVID,” Pupungatoa added.