This past academic year, DreamWakers had the privilege of collaborating with inspirational AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) educators from across the country.

For background, AVID is a nonprofit that aspires to help schools “close the achievement gap by preparing all students for college readiness and success.”

By teaming up with dynamic AVID educators — such as Kelly, Emily, Gabrielle, and Kara, (pictured below) — our DreamWakers team had the opportunity to serve a new cohort of ambitious, college-bound students from across the country. Check out insights below from these standout AVID leaders to gain a first-hand perspective from educators on the front-lines about what’s needed to best prepare our future leaders for college, career, and life.


DreamWakers: “What does AVID mean to you?”

Frank Rodriguez, Product Manager at Google, with Ms. Kelly Pearce’s students in Lincoln Middle School, New Mexico

Kelly Pearce: “AVID shines the spotlight on the whole student, supporting him or her academically, as well as personally. Middle schoolers achieve more when they feel good about themselves, know how to reflect, understand that failures lead to successes, and have opportunities to collaborate and celebrate with their peers. My classroom is built upon trust and relationship building.”

Gabrielle Jones: “AVID means intentionally teaching students skills and strategies such as organization, note-taking, and critical thinking to better prepare them for their educational future. By working on these skills during primary and secondary school, it builds the confidence in them that they can succeed in college.”

Emily Jacobs: “The AVID program is a family that supports each other in achieving common goals and big dreams. The students in AVID are individually determined and inspiring in the success they work toward achieving. It means a community of people who care about everyone having opportunities and being their best self with support from each other.”

Kara May-Dirkschneider: “AVID is a program that helps students realize their full potential. It grants students educational opportunities and experiences that they may not have had access to without AVID. I love watching students succeed and overcome any obstacles they may face with the help of a class such as AVID.”


DreamWakers: “What are the benefits of utilizing DreamWakers flashchats in an AVID class?”

Aesha Ash, Founder of The Swan Dreams Project, with Ms. Gabrielle Jones’ students in West Smithfield Elementary, North Carolina

Kelly Pearce: “Wow, there are so many! Since AVID is meant to help students dream about their futures, there is nothing more dynamic and inspiring than having the golden opportunities to ask questions of working professionals. The stories that my flashchat speakers have shared make adulthood real to my sixth-graders. This school year, some of them got to meet a YouTube executive who took us on a tour of his office and then sent our classroom a set of Google Cardboard. It was an amazing gift that keeps on giving to all of my students, both media literacy and pre-AVID. I am so thankful. We also got to meet an artist and architect extraordinaire. Her conversational tone motivated one of my shy students to ask a question. Ever since, this student has come out of her shell.”

Gabrielle Jones: “Speaking with various professionals through DreamWakers flashchats provides AVID students a chance to see what can happen if they really apply what they learn through the AVID program. It’s a chance for them to see their possible future.”

Emily Jacobs: “Students can be exposed to successful professionals that come from unique backgrounds. Whether it be a similar ethnic, immigrant, religious or income level, our students often connect with the backgrounds of the speakers and admire where they are at now in their lives. It’s really powerful to have students hear how they overcame challenges to become successful.”

Kara May-Dirkschneider: “Students get to connect with professionals in exciting career fields and learn about these careers from someone firsthand. The professionals we chatted with offered personalized life advice to my students.”


DreamWakers: “How do flashchats contribute to a students’ path to college and career success?”

Cheryl Harris, Public Affairs Advisor at the U.S. Department of State, with Ms. Emily Jacobs’ students in Dundee Crown High School, IL

Kelly Pearce: “Of course, I also bring in speakers to my classroom. But there is something extra-special in having a virtual conversation. My kiddos get to meet people beyond New Mexico. It is especially rich when they can relate to the childhood stories that the speakers share. You don’t have to be the smartest or the loudest to succeed later in life, my students have learned from our flashchats.”

Gabrielle Jones: The flashchats exposes students to various types of careers, many of which students may have never thought of before. They also have an opportunity to meet someone from a similar background and to learn about the amazing things they are doing. The flashchats instill hope, motivation, and curiosity in students.”

Emily Jacobs:All of the DreamWakers speakers we’ve had have been successful professionals. They contribute to our students’ college and career success by offering helpful advice about how to succeed in high school, college and exploring future careers. They help reinforce with students that what they’re learning and the skills they’re developing are important.”

Kara May-Dirkschneider:The flashchats open students eyes to all the career possibilities there are and how they can use their passions/interests to find a career.”


DreamWakers: “What has been your students’ overall reactions to DreamWakers flashchats?”

Lee Chan, Founder of Design Lab NYC, with Ms. Kara May-Dirkschneider’s students in San Marcos, CA

Kelly Pearce:Our virtual experiences don’t just last for 45 minutes. They spark conversations that spill out over the following weeks. They tell their friends about them, in addition to their families. For sure, students have enjoyed the flashchats and their horizons have been broadened.”

Gabrielle Jones: My students LOVE DreamWakers flashchats! They constantly ask me when the next one will occur.”

Emily Jacobs: “They really like the uniqueness of the speakers and getting to talk to them virtually! They have such different backgrounds than many people in our area, so it often exposes them to a new career or culture for the first time.”

Kara May-Dirkschneider: “The students were satisfied with the chats. They asked follow-up questions afterward and were curious to see what other career professionals we could chat with.”


DreamWakers: “Why should AVID educators incorporate DreamWakers in their classrooms?”

Nina Marie Barbuto, Architect & Founder of Assemble, with Ms. Kelly Pearce’s students in Lincoln Middle School, NM

Kelly Pearce: “ Guest speakers are part of the AVID standards. I believe wholeheartedly that all AVID teachers should apply to take part in DreamWakers’ flashchats. Not only will students remember these conversations long after they end, but even educators will walk away with a renewed sense about the power of potential.”

Gabrielle Jones: DreamWakers provides an experiential component to the AVID program. It allows students an opportunity to develop their public speaking skills, explore colleges and careers, do some self-reflection, and meet some amazing professionals.”

Emily Jacobs: “It’s the ultimate guest speaker, something that AVID really values. You can choose a career that students are really interested in that you could never find, or you can just ask for someone who is successful and would have good advice to share. It’s a perfect outreach opportunity for our students!”

Kara May-Dirkschneider: “This is a perfect ‘fun Friday” lesson. Students are engaged with the speakers and get a chance to ask questions about different jobs.”


If you are an educator (AVID or otherwise!) and you’re interested in bringing DreamWakers’ career role models into your classroom, be sure to apply to become a #DreamEducator today!