By Jordan Beach 

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Reinhardt student Dylan Crooke interacts with AVID students. Photo provided by Mrs. Maggie Nelms.

When it comes to education, considering options early on can show even young students how to better prepare for their future.

Students from Lydia Laucella’s Values, Character, and Leadership Development course gained field experience at Crabapple Middle School when they visited seventh-grade students in a college readiness program. Laucella is the assistant director for Reinhardt’s Center for Innovative Teaching and Engaged Learning, as well as an assistant professor of Education and Instructional Design. 

“The students brought raffle items, Reinhardt paraphernalia and created interactive lessons for the middle schoolers,” said Laucella. “They got practical, hands-on experience with students and then were given the opportunity to interview the AVID teacher, Mrs. Maggie Nelms. 

AVID stands for “Advancement of Individual Determination,” and is a program designed to teach middle school students college success skills, such as skills in writing, questioning, collaboration, notetaking and reading, along with goal setting and organization. The program brings its participants to college field trips and college and career showcases. 

“Mrs. Nelms was so pleased with our students’ work in creatively answering her AVID students’ questions, that our material will be shared with other AVID teachers across Fulton County,” Laucella said. 

Laucella’s students, including Jaime Mandujano ‘20, worked to create interactive lessons. Mandujano’s group created a video that answered the AVID students’ questions about the college experience at Reinhardt University inspired by the video series created by “Vogue” that ask celebrities 73 questions. 

“We answered questions such as campus life, food, dorms, etc. The students watched our video and we then answered any questions they had afterwards,” said Mandujano. “Other groups also had prepared presentations that talked about their experiences and we all answered any questions they had as a group.” 

Following the interactive lessons, Laucella’s students gave the middle school students letters and spent time talking to them. 

“I loved being able to talk to the kids about college and inform them with any information they wanted to know,” said Mandujano. 

Mandujano studies vocal performance and music education, and hopes to teach high school, but would be happy teaching at the elementary and middle school levels as well. Through this experience, he learned that middle school students “actually care” about college, something he didn’t consider until later in his own life. 

“When I was in middle school, I remember thinking that college was so far away, why should I think about it now?” he said. “But these kids truly seemed interested in learning about college and how to succeed in it.”