Posted on Tuesday, November 5, 2019

“We need more coaching, and we need more students to have access to coaches,” says Laura Clark, who runs the VCCS Student Success Center as assistant vice chancellor of student success and professional development.

“Our students come to us with challenges inside and outside the classroom.  They’re older, more of them work. Many of them have family responsibilities and face bills that are hard to pay. Coaching isn’t the entire answer, but it’s an essential part of our response.”

The goal is to have more coaches, and better coordinated coaching and advising. Virginia’s Community Colleges are asking state policymakers to invest $26 million in the upcoming two-year budget to increase the number of coaches our colleges have to help more at-risk students succeed and to develop the talent that business leaders are clamoring for across the commonwealth.
Coaches and advisors help students navigate the often unfamiliar waters of higher education, and help connect them with resources ranging from child and transportation care to funding for family emergencies.

The peer group gathering in Charlottesville last month brought together academic and workforce coaches to learn about their evolving and growing roles. Peer group gatherings also provide opportunities for educators to network and learn about new technologies and developments in their discipline.

“This was a first step in starting to build some cohesive best practices to talk to them as a unit, as all coaches, and to help them see the value of the work that they’re doing, and the importance of the work that they’re doing to help Virginians secure the employment opportunities they need to succeed,” said Clark.

Anonymous post-events comments indicate the Charlottesville gathering hit the mark with participants. One wrote, “This was the best professional development conference I’ve been to because every session I attended was extremely relevant to what I am doing as a career coach.” Another called the gathering “relevant, thought-provoking, current.”

“We know the peer group conferences strengthen our system and benefit our college faculty, staff and administrators,” said Clark. “And we work hard to offer these professional development opportunities at minimal cost to participants.”

Other peer group conferences this fall assembled college faculty who teach communication and visual and performing arts, psychology and sociology.

The next peer group conference will serve faculty, staff and administrators in student services, disability support services, enrollment management, learning assistance professionals and developmental education. Early childhood education and administration of justice peer groups also will gather. The conference will be November 21-22 at Virginia Crossings Hotel & Conference Center, in Glen Allen.

Register through November 7 here.

Learn more at the VCCS Office of Professional Development.'

Jim Babb

Jim Babb works for Virginia's Community Colleges in the Office of Strategic Communications.

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