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How AmeriCorps coaches help strengthen the College Possible and Seattle Public Schools relationship

5 People Stand In Front Of Trees. From Left, The First Person Is Wearing A Pink Short Sleeve T-shirt With A Black Vest, Next Is A Person With A Blue College Possible Branded T-shirt And Jeans, By A Person Wearing A White Shirt, Black Pants, And A Gray College Possible Branded Sweater, Next To A Person Wearing A Blue College Possible Branded Long Sleeve T-shirt, Tucked Into Jeans And A Black Belt, Next To A Person Wearing A Long Sleeve Blue College Possible T-shirt And Black Jeans.

Lauren Kraushaar is a senior program manager and has been with College Possible Washington for two years. In this conversation, she shares insight on the Seattle Public Schools District and the AmeriCorps members that serve as coaches in the schools we support there: Franklin, Garfield, and Nathan Hale High School.

What role do program managers play in supporting AmeriCorps coaches and nurturing partner school relationships?

Lauren K.:

I am the coaches’ first touchpoint to staff, and the school staffs’ first touchpoint to coaches. My primary role is to support AmeriCorps members in their day-to-day needs.

Sometimes that looks like walking through specific student supports on any given day, sometimes it’s hosting student celebrations and recruitment events, and sometimes it’s supporting AmeriCorps coaches with logging their data.

Within the school, I am also a face that the partners see most regularly. We partner with Seattle Promise a lot on financial aid nights, so we can support students and families learning more about FAFSA/WAFSA.

Tell us a little bit about the schools and students we work with in the Seattle Public Schools District

Lauren K.:

We’ve been with Seattle Public Schools a long time — it was College Possible Washington’s first school district partnership. We’ve been at Garfield since 2006 and partnered with Franklin and Nathan Hale the last five to six years.

Student demographics across all three schools are similar – most of the students we serve are BIPOC students who are the first in their family to attend college. Many of these students are also English Language Learners, as well. One hundred percent of the students in our program come from low-income backgrounds, based on Washington’s state standard. 

How are coaches received at the schools, what about the community?

Lauren K.:

Garfield has a strong PTSA culture and they are big advocates and supporters of our program. There is a lot of collaboration and partnership amongst the community based organizations – like College Possible – in the school, which helps us to foster a really strong community of connection.”

Nathan Hale’s administration is very supportive to the coaches — it’s easy to get in touch with counseling staff at Nathan Hale, and the teachers have been kind and gracious. They’ve truly acted as advocates for our program, encouraging students to listen and consider if the program would be a good fit for them, helping to build student buy-in and trust in our organization.

At Franklin, the counseling team is great and the new career and tech educator is working on a cohesive career center which will be an excellent way to connect community based organizations and staff in support of students at the school.

Can you share the coaching setup across the three schools and delve into how coaches assist students, especially in navigating college admissions?

Lauren K.:

We have one coach at Nathan Hale, two coaches at Garfield and two at Franklin.

Senior coaches focus time with students on applying to colleges, financial aid, writing their essay, etc. A lot of focus is spent on hitting major college application milestone deadlines and hitting those clear benchmarks throughout the year.

Junior coaches provide a lot of the background information on the college application process and colleges in general. “College knowledge,” we call it, is so imperative for students to know at the junior level.

Coming out of COVID, students must also ensure they have the correct credits to graduate high school on time.

What are you most excited about as we think about the fall and winter months in Seattle Public Schools?

Lauren K.:

All the coaches in the Seattle Public Schools are serving their first AmeriCorps service term, and it’s a great opportunity to harness that energy and excitement in service of students.

We’re excited about seeing our coach at Nathan Hale, CJ, make an impact as an alumnus. CJ is a former Nathan Hale graduate and former College Possible student, and I’m excited to see the ways in which he reconnects with the Hale community in a new capacity and the ways in which we’re able to support him.

I’m also excited to see the relationships that develop between students and coaches and how wonderful it is to watch. The real relationships that form are the cornerstone of why our curriculum and why our process works. We have coaches who can relate to and connect with students on a near-peer level.

Wrapping up our chat with Lauren, it’s clear the whole team brings a ton of passion to the Seattle Public Schools District. Through all the ups and downs, they are focused on building real connections with the students on their path to higher education. They’re excited about what’s coming next, and the impact on the students speaks volumes.

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