McDowell Tech is constantly looking for new and innovative ways to promote student growth and learning. In fact, the college’s tuition-free scholarship program is called “the Learn and Grow Scholarship Program.”
For the fall semester, for example, the college has added numerous short-term workforce training courses, with the first cohort of monthly classes beginning on August 8. These classes are scheduled during evening hours to meet the needs of adult learners and others will continue throughout the year.
“For our degree-seeking students,” said Dr. Beverly Watts, Dean of Student Success, “the college is rolling out a number of new initiatives to enhance the student experience and increase a student’s likelihood of success and degree completion. We mean it when we say that we want to help students learn and grow, and these efforts are focused on those goals.”
One of the most substantive and positive changes that students will experience this fall is a change to the college’s advising processes and procedures. These changes grew out of discussions and planning for the college’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP), “Hear Our R.O.A.R.R.,” which is aimed at improving Registration, Orientation, Advising, Retention and Referral. In 2021, the college received a $2M Title III Strengthening Institutions Grant from the U.S Department of Education to assist in these efforts. Watts is project director for the grant.
Ultimately, the new advising process is more individualized and supportive, leading to a more constructive and positive experience for students going through the admissions and advising process. Central to these new processes is a personal guide or mentor known as a Student Success Coach. Now, when a student completes an application to enroll at McDowell Tech, they will be assigned a Student Success Coach based on the student’s program of study or selected major.
Before the student proceeds to enroll in classes, the Success Coach sets up a meeting to discuss the student’s educational and vocational goals, primarily to make sure that the student has chosen an appropriate educational path to reach their goals. At that meeting, the Success Coach assists the student in registering for classes and walks students through a packet of information designed to help them navigate everything from accessing online student records and scheduling to using their new MTCC Gmail account.
The Success Coach’s job is not complete after a student is registered for classes, however. They stay on the student’s “Success Team” until they have achieved their educational goals in order to provide ongoing support during the student’s tenure at the college.
In addition to the Success Coach, a student is assigned a faculty advisor during their first semester of classes, and the student meets with his or her Faculty Advisor for the duration of their time at MTCC. The Success Coach and Faculty Advisor collectively provide support to the student to help them reach their goals and be successful.
To assist both the Success Coach, Faculty Advisor and individual faculty members serving the student, the college recently adopted a web-based early alert and academic planning system known as Watermark’s Student Success & Engagement platform (formerly Aviso Retention). The platform provides early alerts to help students who may need even greater support to be successful in the classroom and progress normally toward their academic goals.
Meet MTCC’s Advisors and Success Coaches:
Chuck Bowling, Director for Student Success
Chuck Bowling has worked at McDowell Tech since 2010, first as a biology instructor and now as the Director for Student Success. In this role, he works closely with students as they are entering McDowell Tech and provides academic support throughout the semester. He has worked in higher education since the early 1990s directing outreach programs, teaching, and advising students. He is once more a student, himself, and anticipates completing a PhD in Community College Leadership this fall.
Annie Duncan, Success Coach
Annie Duncan is a native of McDowell County and resides in Marion with her dog, Rascal. She has earned a degree in Psychology from Warren Wilson College and a Master’s degree in Higher Education from Appalachian State University. She has a passion for career development and enjoys helping students! In her free time, she enjoys hiking, listening to music, and trying new types of food.
Myra Morgan, Success Coach & Enrollment Operations Coordinator
Myra Morgan began her career as a Public Relations Intern at McDowell Tech in the summer of ’95. She began teaching Exceptional Children at McDowell County Schools in 1998, as well as teaching Graphic Design and Exceptional Children night classes at McDowell Technical Community College. From 1998-2010, she worked as an Exceptional Children’s Teacher at McDowell County Schools and completed her Masters in School Administration in 2007. In 2010, she began teaching Graphic Design at McDowell High School. In June, 2022 she came back to McDowell Tech as Coordinator of Enrollment Operations and Success Coach in the Student Enrichment Center. She is happy to be back home. “I can’t wait to see who signs up for classes! I’m here to help you succeed!”
Belinda Foster, Health Sciences Advisor
Belinda Foster began working at McDowell Tech in 2005 as a Testing Administrator for the Student Enrichment Center. In 2015, she became the college’s Allied Health Advisor, working with students from various health disciplines. Prior to coming to McDowell Tech, Belinda was an HR/Personnel Administrator, a role she credits with giving her greater insight into the diversity of individuals and the things that motivate and inspire them toward professional growth and advancement in their careers. “At McDowell Tech, I am here to help students realize these types of goals and to follow their dreams.”
Terry Moore, Health Sciences Success Coach
Terry recently joined the staff at McDowell Technical Community College as Health Sciences Success Coordinator after retiring as Director of Surgical Services for two regional hospitals. In that role, he helped plan and deliver on-going staff education and provide clinical training for students. Terry is a Registered Nurse with a MSN Nurse Educator Degree. He is ready to assist all health sciences students in their journey at McDowell Tech!
The Title III Grant:
McDowell Tech was awarded the $2.045 million competitive Title III Grant from the U.S. Department of Education as part of the department’s Strengthening Institutions Program (SIP), which aims to help institutions of higher education to boost their capacity to serve low-income students by providing funds to help them become more self-sufficient, expand capacity to serve students, and improve and strengthen the institution. The SIP grant is the largest grant ever awarded to McDowell Tech.
Title III SIP grants are awarded to only a few selected colleges nationwide. “This is a true blessing for McDowell Tech, our students and the community,” said Watts. “Our Quality Enhancement plan, which this grant supports, gives students better, more coordinated access to student services and guided educational pathways. When our students are more successful and have a higher degree completion rate, the stronger our workforce and community will become!”
Quality Enhancement Plans are a requirement of the college’s accrediting body, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
In addition to funding Student Success Coaches, the Title III Grant will also support renovation of the Student Services Department in the Cedar (Administration) Building to create a modern, “One-Stop” Student Success Center that better meets the needs of today’s students. One-Stop centers are designed to allow students to access the resources they need in one place, rather than being referred to multiple buildings to access those resources. That project is scheduled to go to bid during the Fall 2023 semester.
The Title III Project will also fund enhanced levels of professional development for faculty and staff and help to expand work-based learning opportunities at MTCC.
“Our vision at MTCC is clear. We will learn and grow while focusing on individuals, our community, and our institution,” said Dr. Brian S. Merritt, MTCC President. “Our new success team is student-focused and ready to serve students to meet their goals. We are eternally grateful to the U.S. Department of Education for this opportunity to help McDowell Tech better serve all students who walk through our doors and find more equitable solutions that will positively impact our community.”