AVID’s mission is to close the achievement gap by preparing all students for college readiness and success in a global society.

Advancement Via Individual Determination

AVID College Ready Radio

Why AVID College Ready Radio? As a leader in the field of preparing students for college and career success, AVID has connections with so many interesting and innovative people that we wanted to share what we learn from them with our AVID friends. 

AVID College Ready Radio, covers great stories and current efforts in preparing students for college and career success. Show host Rob Gira interviews thought leaders in education, as well as experts in the field of college and career readiness. He also spoke with AVID students and educators who shared their inspiring stories.



About Our Host

Rob Gira

AVID Executive Vice President Rob Gira has been a part of AVID since 1994. He is the creator and lead writer for AVID’s journal Access, and he also contributes to AVID’s blog Adventures in College & Career Readiness. Rob focuses on equity, student development, the brain, resilience, and school culture, among other topics, which he will continue to explore on AVID College Ready Radio

Previously Recorded AVID College Ready Radio Shows!


Xavier McKnight
Jim Nelson | AVID Center Executive Director 2006 – 2013

“I think it’s all about wanting to make a difference.”

Listen as Jim Nelson offers insights into his years working with AVID as he prepares to retire as Executive Director. Jim reflects on what brought him to AVID, its growth and impact through the years, and his hopes for AVID’s future.

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Xavier McKnight
Hammond R. Gracy | Principal Marathon Middle High School
Xavier McKnight | AVID Senior

Hear from a current AVID student and his principal as they discuss how AVID has transformed the lives of students and educators at Marathon Middle High School in Marathon, FL!

Hammond R. Gracy has been the principal of Marathon Middle High School since 2010. His focus has been on increasing AP opportunities and enrollment, implementation of the SpringBoard curriculum in language arts, and providing opportunities to students through AVID.

Senior Xavier McKnight is very involved at school and also devotes a great deal of time to many activities in the community of Marathon. AVID has kept him on track. With his many obligations and commitments, the time management and organization skills learned through AVID’s curriculum have enabled Xavier to fulfill all his duties with excellence. “I would never be where I am today without AVID.”

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Eddy Diaz
Eddy Diaz | AVID Alumnus

“I was one of those students who knew that I was going to succeed—who had the will to work hard—but I just didn’t know how to get there.”

Eddy Diaz moved to the U.S. when he was 14 years old. He spoke no English, but he did not let that stop him from pushing himself to do well in school, make friends, and get involved in his community. He credits AVID with showing him the path to his success. Eddy now speaks three languages, completed his degree at the University of Texas in Austin, and has successfully begun his career. He was also a speaker at our 2008 Summer Institute and recently blogged for us! (You can watch his speech: Part 1, Part 2.)

Listen to our show to hear Eddy’s story and his advice to current AVID students!

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Cynthia Arellano
Cynthia Arellano | Teacher and AVID Alumni Association Coordinator

Hear from a woman who has experienced AVID at every level: student, tutor, teacher, and now working for AVID Center as the leader of our new AVID Alumni Association.

As a teacher and a consultant for AVID, Cynthia Arellano works tirelessly to support the ambitions of underserved youth. She has been a teacher for Poway Unified School District for eight years and was honored as the Teacher of the Year in 2013. Cynthia proves that with the right opportunities and support, all students can thrive. View her speech at our 2010 San Diego Summer Institute to learn more about her inspiring story, and listen to her radio interview for insights on her experiences with AVID and a peek at what’s to come for the new AVID Alumni Association.

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Jay Mathews
Jay Mathews | Education Writer and Expert

“I think most schools in America have too many great teachers saying to themselves, ‘We can’t push these kids too hard.’”

Listen as Jay Mathews weighs in on current issues in education, ranging from the importance of effort to what test scores truly tell us. Mathews also explains how he thinks AVID is unique and why he considers AVID Founder Mary Catherine Swanson to be “the best school reformer in America.”

Jay Mathews is an education columnist and blogger for the Washington Post. He has been with the Post for 42 years and is the author of eight books, including four about high schools and a New York Times bestseller, Work Hard. Be Nice., about the birth and growth of the KIPP charter school network. He is currently writing a book about AVID.

Mathews is the creator of the annual Challenge Index rankings of high schools. He was one of the school experts featured in the documentary film Waiting for ‘Superman.’ He has also won several awards for education writing and was given the Upton Sinclair Award for serving as “a beacon of light in the realm of education.” He was also bestowed the Eugene Meyer Award for distinguished service to the Washington Post.

He has also been a speaker at AVID events and was twice featured in our journal, Access: Continuing the Class Struggle for Access to Rigorous Courses (2002) and Jay Mathews: Advocate for Student Opportunity (2010).

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Donna Y. Ford
A National Authority’s Moral Imperative on Gifted Education

Donna Y. Ford, PhD | Professor, Consultant, Author, Advocate

Hear Dr. Ford address important issues in education, including the problems with color blindness, the deficit-focus versus asset-focus, and best practices for increasing diversity in gifted education.

Donna Y. Ford, PhD, is the Professor of Education and Human Development at Vanderbilt University. Ford possesses a rare combination of passionate advocacy and academic scholarship. She is a national figure in discussions regarding access to gifted education, including AP and IB. She has been an advisor to the AVID Center, a keynote speaker at AVID events, and also has an interview featured in Access. It is safe to say that she is a child advocate, no matter the age of the child.

Dr. Ford has written several articles and books on multicultural gifted education, including her newest book, Recruiting & Retaining Culturally Different Students in Gifted Education, which addresses the national underrepresentation of Black and Hispanic students in gifted education.

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Bill Madigan
Bill Madigan, AVID Teacher and Staff Developer

Learn from an expert AVID teacher! “As a teacher of AVID, you have to be a coach. They say they want to get to the top of the mountain, but then they start walking up and say, 'Wait this is hard.' This is where your requirements as an AVID Elective teacher kick in. Your job is to convince them, coach them, push them, and over time, you get good at it.”

Bill Madigan has been an educator for 25 years. He has taught emotionally disturbed and at-risk students, as well as Advanced Placement® learners. He has also been an AVID coordinator and elective teacher for 18 years. He has just completed a year as Vice Principal of King Chavez Community Charter High School in downtown San Diego. Bill has also been a Staff Developer both privately and with AVID for 18 years, teaching brain based learning, as well as English Language Learner best practices. Mr. Madigan is an author of two books and several articles for various educational journals and blogs.

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Jonathan Grant Brown
Jonathan Grant Brown, AVID Alumnus and Program Coordinator at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin

Hear from an AVID Alumnus as he discusses his own AVID journey and describes his work with AVID for Higher Education, helping first-generation college students succeed as they navigate their freshmen year. Learn more about what students need most when they begin college!

Jonathan's journey has had its share of ups and downs. As a motivational speaker, Jonathan shares his story in hopes that he may be able to connect with students and inspire them to obtain a brighter, future by pursuing a college degree.

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Dr. David Conley
Dr. David Conley, Founder and CEO of the Educational Policy Improvement Center

Learn about the latest research-based strategies that improve college and career readiness for all students! Dr. David Conley gives us a preview of his new book, Getting Ready for College, Careers, and Common Core: What Every Educator Needs to Know.

Dr. David Conley is an expert in the field of college and career readiness, having written several books and numerous articles on the topic, including his recent piece in Education Week, "Rethinking the Notion of ‘Noncognitive".  Dr. Conley has also been a speaker at our AVID National Conference and was a featured presenter at the 2013 National Conference. For more on Dr. Conley and his work with AVID, see our  interview with him featured in ACCESS.

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Mary Catherine Swanson
Mary Catherine Swanson, AVID Founder

AVID Founder Mary Catherine Swanson is AVID College Ready Radio’s first guest! Hear AVID’s Founder discuss some of AVID’s history, her work with students, and her hopes for AVID’s future!

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