AVID students mentor 5th-graders to make school ‘a better place’

Nhia Thao knows the challenge of tackling vocabulary and math assignments in Tom Sullivan’s 5th-grade classroom. Now, as a junior at Logan High School, he’s back in Mr. Sullivan’s classroom, but this time he’s helping deliver the lessons.

Logan High AVID students are mentoring 5th-grade students at Northside Elementary. It is part of the AVID 11 curriculum theme to SOAR: Service, Organize, Advance and Relate, says Logan AVID teacher Ann Koth. AVID is a college-readiness program in its second year at Logan and Central high schools. About $225,000 in start-up funding over three years is being raised by the La Crosse Public Education Foundation.

Nhia Thao, a Logan High junior, helps mentor students in Tom Sullivan's Northside classroom.

Nhia Thao, a Logan High junior, helps mentor students in Tom Sullivan’s Northside classroom.

For Nhia, who had Mr. Sullivan at Franklin Elementary, it’s a lesson in learning to communicate better — to listen, not just to talk. “It’s a unique experience. In elementary school, you rarely see high schoolers,” says Nhia. “We have a chance to help make it a better place.”

Mr. Sullivan says his students get the benefit of seeing older students “who come from the same schools they did, who have aspirations. They can see kids getting ready to go to college.”

For 5th-grader Justis Atwell, the experience has been “just awesome.” Says Justis: “It’s kind of fun. I got someone to help me do my homework!”