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‘Achieving the Dream’ Network Drives Ongoing CCC Mission Forward

Earlier this year, the Woodward Hines Education Foundation awarded Coahoma Community College a grant to participate in the Achieving the Dream (ATD) network. The Achieving the Dream network, an initiative devoted to achieving success among community college students, has a layout of ideas to strengthen problem areas in the higher education realm. ATD hopes to target aspects including leadership, teaching, learning, and technology.

‘Achieving the Dream’ Network Drives Ongoing CCC Mission Forward

Press Release from Coahoma Community College Public Relations; (662) 621-4157 - Melody Dixon

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Mon Aug 13, 2018

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Earlier this year, the Woodward Hines Education Foundation awarded Coahoma Community College a grant to participate in the Achieving the Dream (ATD) network. The Achieving the Dream network, an initiative devoted to achieving success among community college students, has a layout of ideas to strengthen problem areas in the higher education realm. ATD hopes to target aspects including leadership, teaching, learning, and technology.

“We are in the beginning phase of the ATD initiative,” says Dean of Academic Affairs Rolanda Brown, Ph.D. “Our task at this time is to introduce the project to faculty and staff. As everyone is introduced, our next step will be to review our student data and begin setting goals and objectives for student success based on what we learn from the data. We will focus on increasing the success of all students enrolled in CCC.”

A group of ATD coaches meet with teams at each partnering institution to discuss methods for fostering a thriving student body. As the saying goes, ‘It takes a village,’ and our village is here to lend a helping hand and steer us in the right direction for growth.

To get the project unfolded, the organization recommends that a core team create a communication strategy to track school-wide efforts in culminating successful students. With a core communications team of six knowledgeable members of the campus community and a Core Leader, a list of goals and an effective communication strategy can be established. ATD encourages these core teams to involve an advisory group to act as spokespersons for stakeholders like CCC faculty. The core team then comes up with an ‘opportunity statement’ that will outline the resources needed, the steps required to leverage the opportunities Achieving the Dream offers and possible rewarding results from involvement. ATD urges community colleges to incorporate other initiatives on campus or in the community for funding and advice.

By the second year of participation with the Achieving the Dream initiative, the institution will have developed a student success vision that moves others to become part of the movement. A progress assessment will need to be conducted. There is an evaluation-focused test for pointing out the areas that will need more attention before starting ATD work and finding out where improvement has been made while the project advances. This test, termed SMART—specific, measurable, actionable, relevant, timely—evaluation metrics, is sure to produce promising freshmen and sophomores.

Melvin Newson, Ph.D., the Achieving the Dream coordinator for CCC and special populations coordinator for the Career and Technical Division, is impressed that the ATD program has helped more than 200 colleges since its start. The program has sent coaches, and Newson fully puts his trust in their expertise.

“We are learning new strategies that will surely increase student success at our institution. The coaches that CCC are assigned by ADT are veteran educators with proven track records,” said Newson.

“Our leadership coach is a former community college chancellor, and our data coach serves as a director of research and analytics for his college.  The partnership allows CCC to utilize our coaches for invaluable advising.  Additionally, it affords us the opportunity to have unbiased outside perspectives on our policies and procedures.”

During Coahoma’s preschool conference, Mark Taylor, Ed.D., a higher education specialist and Jacqueline Taylor, Ed.D., of Southwest Tennessee Community College spoke on the barriers to a prosperous community college. He specifically highlighted the common characteristics of millennials, today’s learners, and young adults. Becoming aware of their traits will cause personnel to better adapt to the students they serve. He also pointed out that race and equality are issues we face in society. Jacqueline Taylor, executive director of student success and retention at STCC, shared her testimony of how joining forces with Achieving the Dream raised the retention and graduation rates of the college. She revealed that a breakdown in silos within various departments was a major change that made it simple for students to complete various processes.

Newson is very optimistic this program will make a great impact and does not think CCC will regret the decision to partner.

“I have no doubt that the initiative will be a success,” Newson said.  “I look forward to the transformation that will occur on campus.  We have great people leading CCC’s efforts, and we are all excited because we know of the change that is imminent.”