Andrea Hern: Changing the world one student at a time

By Blake Maldonado
Flapjack staff

Most students in high school have dreams and aspirations for their future but don’t have the guidance to fully achieve those desires. But at Casa Roble High School in Orangevale, California, students have the opportunity to find that guidance through a program known as AVID, and especially through one of the teachers in the program, Andrea Hern.

Hern teaches the AVID class for the freshman at the high school and gets them introduced to the AVID program at a high school level, being most of the students were in AVID during middle school, or sometimes just introduced to the program itself for students who have never been in AVID. Her personality is friendly, welcoming and she greets everyone who walks into her classroom. She is married with two daughters that she has pictures of up on the wall next to her desk. She is friends with several of the other teachers on campus and is known by most of the students on campus, regardless of their participation in AVID.

To get students acquainted to the program, Hern has them turn in Cornell notes and a tutorial every Thursday, which is something expected of AVID students through out the four years.

AVID, an acronym for Achievement Via Individual Determination, is a program at schools that dedicates itself to getting students prepared for college. Whether that means helping with note taking, helping students do better in their classes, aiding in the application process, or providing a set of ears to listen to the students as they struggle with the pressures of planning to attend college.

“Tutorials are a critical thinking exercise,” said Hern. “It is to teach students how to apply prior knowledge and concepts to their current problem.”

Tutorials are a weekly assignment where the students have to take something they don’t understand in one of their classes, whether it be a problem from homework or a concept from the class, and they write it down and get in groups dependent on a subject and the group helps them through the problem.

“The other reason for tutorials is so students can learn to work in study groups and answering their own question through inquiry,” she said.

The Cornell notes are required to be a full page with at least three questions or main ideas in the margin along with a summary at the bottom of he page. This is to get students used to having strict guidelines as many college professors have for assignments and also to get the students used to taking notes.

Hern said that her goal to get as many of the students to stick with the program as possible as she has seen first hand how beneficial it has been to her past students.

“I would describe Mrs. Hern as dedicated and big hearted,” said Ashley Kainz, 19, Art Major at Chico State University and a previous student of Hern’s. “She would do anything to help any of her students out. From giving us resources to just being there to talk. You can tell she loves what she does for her students by all the love and thought she puts into AVID.”

Hern has seen three AVID classes through graduation.

Hern not only manages to have a one on one connection with each of her students in her AVID class, getting to know their goals and dreams, but also manages being a PE teacher.

“I think if you have a connection with kids,” said Hern. “They are willing to try harder in school and they feel more connected. Plus you as a teacher are more invested in the kids so as a teacher I work harder for the kids.”

“I would say I had a pretty good, close relationship with her,” said Cynthia Strouse, 19, Environmental Engineering major student at Humboldt State University and previous student of Hern’s as well. “She cared about how I was doing in school and at home. She was more like a friend to me than a teacher.”

“AVID is the type of class where we all can build up personal relationships and still learn academically,” said Kainz. “Mrs. Hern would arrive earlier to class just so we al could talk with her. She always made time to talk with her. She always made time to talk with everyone in the class. She would also leave her classroom open at lunch so she could interact with us.”

Hern is not only there for her students academically but emotionally as well, helping students through social issues as well as at home issues.

“I think kids need someone they can talk to and trust at school,” said Hern. “A person they can trust that will look out for them and help them make the right decisions without judgment.”

“Mrs. Hern was an emotional rock for me throughout my high school career,” said Tony Monk, 19, current student at San Francisco State University and another previous student of Hern’s. “AVID had three purposes: academics, emotional, and college progression. I utilized AVID and Mrs. Hern more for the emotional stability purpose than the other two.”

Even her students have said that what they learned from Hern in AVID is still helping them in college.

“It helped prepare me for the note taking and the intensity of just lectures themselves,” said Strouse. “I feel like I’m able to keep up with my professors in lectures for that reason”

Being the AVID program at Casa Roble High School has changed slightly in recent years, Hern no longer keeps the same students for the four years they are in high school till they graduate like she used to with her previous classes like the one that had Kainz, Strouse, and Monk, but she still manages to make a connection with each freshman class that she teaches each year.

Hern explained why she enjoys being an AVID teacher.

“It’s 100 percent the kids,” said Hern. “If I didn’t have relationships with the kids I don’t thik I could keep doing it. But you make connections with people and you care about them so that is what makes me keep coming back.”

Hern not only takes the time to help her students get into college but also manages a healthy at home life with a husband and two daughters. She is clearly committed to her students and making sure that their dreams and aspirations become a reality.

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