Mary Catherine Swanson

Mary Catherine Swanson, an Advanced Placement (AP) high-school English teacher of more than 20 years and an English Department Chairwoman, founded the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program in 1980 at Clairemont High School in Southern California. The program was founded in response to federal court-ordered integration and is aimed at overcoming the challenges associated with teaching urban school children who are ill prepared to undertake college preparatory curriculum. Students in the program are placed into rigorous curriculum in order to be challenged and are taught skills to assist them in studying, note taking, and test taking. Students are also exposed to cultural change though attendance at stage plays, symphonies, museums, and places of professional employment. The success of the program is highlighted in the fact that AVID is now an international program instituted at more than 2,200 high schools in 36 states and 15 countries. Furthermore, 95% of AVID students enroll in college, 89% persist in college, and 85% will graduate (or have graduated) from a four-year college or university in four to five years. Ms. Swanson firmly believes that working with students positively can affect tremendous change; and for over 25 years AVID has proven, with over 30,000 students, that when given academic rigor, guidance, and support all students can achieve at high levels.