In 1966, Mary Catherine Swanson, a young high-school English teacher, recognized that a traditional method of dividing students based on perceived abilities left a broad group of capable but underachieving students underserved. Convinced that with appropriate training and encouragement these students could excel in her advanced classes, Mary Catherine dedicated her master’s thesis to identifying key teaching components that would enable all students to succeed through rigorous college and professional learning. Her findings placed a strong emphasis on the Socratic method and the idea that education should focus on the development of critical thinking through conversation and experiences, rather than the direct lectures alone. This method of teaching formed the foundation of the Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) program in 1980; a teaching philosophy that empowers underachieving students to perform at advanced placement/college-level standards while providing individualized, cross-sector social and academic support. AVID focuses on teaching students the behaviors and skills necessary to achieve academic success, allowing teachers to mentor students and letting students make decisions regarding their own academic goals. Today, AVID has evolved into a college readiness system from elementary to higher education reaching more than 700,000 students in 4,900 schools across 45 states and 16 countries. In 2013, 99 percent of the 34,229 AVID seniors graduated high school on time, and 91 percent reported plans to attend college.