Promoting Student Success

On April 26, SMC hosted “Pathways to Persistence,” a successful workshop led by educational consultant Tom Brown. Thirty-five members of the SMC community attended the workshop with both staff and faculty well represented.

At the workshop, Mr. Brown led the participants through exercises and discussion designed to illustrate the roadblocks a student can encounter that discourage them from succeeding or staying in college. The session also focused on what College faculty and staff can do to help promote student success at SMC. The exercises also demonstrated how every interaction a student has with a College employee can affect the likelihood of staying in a program, whether or not the employee is someone who directly works with students on a regular basis.

Many participants agreed the workshop was insightful and educational.

Kira Allen, Student Services Coordinator and co-chair of SMC’s Staff Council, commented that “Tom Brown gave a startling yet significant statistic that has stayed with me ever since the workshop. He said nationally, of ten African Americans who start 1st grade, five will graduate high school, two will go on to college, and one will actually graduate from college. If you have that one in your classroom you need to see them as incredibly capable, instead of thinking they won’t measure up.”

Allen continued “I so appreciated his perspective because as someone who works in Student Services, I am a witness to the power of praise. When I can reinforce what a student is doing well then they are 10 times more likely to persist at the things that aren’t going well, no matter what their background is; I also make it my business to especially encourage those that I know are not being supported at home.”

Sue Sylvester, Executive Director of Development, felt that the workshop carried an important message, saying “Tom reminded me that we truly are a community and one never knows how a simple act of kindness, smile, or compassionate ear might have an impact on someone’s life. In going about our daily lives, it is easy to forget how important we are to each other or how often we can change the course of someone’s life with what we consider a simple gesture.  It can make difference between someone staying in school and going on to save lives, or dropping out and being lost.”

Tom Brown, a former educator in academic and student affairs, has served as a consultant to more than 200 colleges and universities and specializes in academic advising, supporting students of color and at-risk cohorts, and international educational exchange.

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