Success coaches: Building bridges to connect

Published 5:22 pm Friday, October 15, 2021

By Kristi Beckman

Council for Educational Equity Integration Collaboration Coordinator

Success coaches play a critical role in welcoming and serving all students, families and staff in Austin Public Schools.

The mission of the success coach team is to help families overcome barriers to ensure student success in school.  Their work focuses on six major areas of parental involvement drawn from the Joyce Epstein family engagement model: Parenting, communicating, volunteering, learning at home, decision making and collaborating with community.

But, what is a success coach?

Imagine that you’ve just moved to Austin from another country and you’re unfamiliar with the school system in the United States.  A success coach can give you a school tour, teach you about the routines and expectations in U.S. schools, and build a trusting relationship with you so that you feel welcomed and respected.

Imagine you just moved to Austin from a refugee camp in Burma or East Africa.  You may not have been able to attend school because your country has been experiencing civil war and violence for decades. You want to learn English so you can help your family, and you need help filling out job applications and school enrollment paperwork.  A success coach can help interpret for you and connect you to those community resources.

Imagine your child is a high school student and you want to support their pursuit of higher education.  Perhaps you didn’t go to college yourself, or you aren’t familiar with the process. A success coach can help connect you with counselors so you can track your child’s credits and progress toward on-time graduation, get information about FAFSA and the MN Prosperity act, motivate your child to take college-credit bearing courses during the school year and special summer programs, and connect you with college advisors who can help your child be college-ready.

They can provide this support in English, Anyuak, Arabic, Burmese, Dinka, Karenni, Portuguese, Poe Karen, S’gaw Karen, and Spanish. They can also connect you to local language interpreters who speak Amharic, Chinese, Fon, French, Lao, Nuer, Pohnpeian, Tigre, Tigrinya and Vietnamese.

Imagine you’re a single parent. You’re working a second-shift job, and you need help getting your middle school child signed up for sports and connected to transportation resources. A success coach can help you take care of registration, physicals, and explore activities of interest to your child.

Imagine you have a question for your child’s teacher, but you’re unable to ask in English or don’t know who to ask.  You can call or leave a message for a success coach and they will connect you and bridge the gap.

Success coaches help provide communication support to ensure all families have full access to the APS community. They provide support about issues like basic needs such as attendance, food services and health issues. They also help families get engaged in extracurricular activities, athletics, advanced academics, community events, and volunteerism.