Real Talk

The Achievement Coach

by Jayme Rawson

“Hey, Jayme! Introduce yourself, and tell us about where you work and what you do.”

Sure! My name is Jayme Rawson, and I serve as the Achievement Coach at East Career and Technical Academy.”

“Wait – what is an “Achievement Coach”?”

 Well, that is a GREAT question.

If you look up my job title or category, I am a Learning Strategist with the Clark County School District. At East Career and Technical Academy (East Tech), we’ve taken this role, and molded it into something that works for us, and works for kids.

The Evolution of the Role

The Class of 2012 was the first four-year class to graduate from East Tech. We knew we wanted to maintain a relationship with our alumni, and bring them back as often as possible to help us continue our burgeoning mission to create students who were truly future-ready. Bringing these students back onto campus led to some great conversations, including some powerful feedback about what helped them take their next steps, and what they wish they’d had more of. Our alumni team let us know that they truly needed more help navigating the post-secondary landscape. Many of them (over 75%) were true pioneers in this space, navigating for the very first time the choices of whether or not to go to college, how to apply to college, how to apply for aid, how to head into career pathways and so much more.

Enter the Achievement Coach – the person on campus who is unencumbered by other roles and can dig in and help juniors and seniors prepare for life after high school. My job became providing the supports that created equitable access to post-high school opportunities for ALL students.

The Unique Role of the Achievement Coach

The first thing people in the education sphere will often say when I explain this aspect of my work is, “but isn’t that the high school counselors’ job?” This work DOES live in their world, along with scheduling, social-emotional learning, student trainings, parent trainings, crisis response and management, and so much more. The Achievement Coach is unencumbered by these other responsibilities. I am able to meet with students and share information with them in real time to help them stay on top of and on track with their journey from high school to what is next. I communicate regularly with the counselors, and we work TOGETHER to make sure every aspect of a senior’s next step is in place by the time they walk across the stage at graduation. 

How the Work Works

As Achievement Coach, I work hard to remove barriers and build supports that create opportunities for students to apply for college, scholarships, aid and more. I use tools like Remind to keep students on top of dates and deadlines, Adobe Express to help communicate the how, what, why and when of the college, scholarship and aid process. I also work with students individually and in groups to help them get through applications, help them with resumes, connect them to scholarship opportunities, help them request letters of recommendation and more. I provide this support as students need it and as often as they need it. I make sure students know they can ask questions, even ask the same questions again and again until they “get it”. My goal is to make sure seniors, by the time April and May come around, have a LOT of possibilities, and zero regrets in terms of missed deadlines or opportunities. I lean into a variety of communication tools, face to face presentations and meetings all year long to help seniors get ready for what’s next.

The Results

At East Tech, we’ve been able to achieve truly incredible things for students. We have done this as a team, in partnership with teachers, counselors, administrators and most importantly, students – every person who is a part of the East Tech community deserves recognition for what has been accomplished.

In the eight years East Tech has invested in the Achievement Coach position, graduating seniors have gone from a 60% college admission rate to 100%, something we have maintained over multiple years and even during the pandemic. Scholarships and grants earned by seniors at East Tech have grown from 4 million to just over 15 million! East Tech has seen its first several Questbridge College Match Recipients and celebrated its first National Merit Scholars. East Tech is deeply committed to and invested in equity at every level, and ensuring that our students, over 75% of whom are first generation college students, have access to all the support they need to make the leap to college and to careers they have such deep passion for. 

At this point in my career, it is almost impossible for me not to run into a successful East Tech graduate. In fact, five of them work in instructional support, certified and teaching positions at East Tech. Many others are serving in key positions throughout the community, working as nurses in area hospitals, teaching in classrooms throughout the county, running businesses in the community and even representing us in the Nevada State Legislature.

We continue to have an active alumni network, The Forever An East Tech Titan Alumni Association, who grants $3000 a year in scholarships to East Tech graduates, provides support for teachers, serve as guest speakers and so much more. 

The Achievement Coach as Teacher Leader

There is another side to the work I do at East Tech that is just as important as the work I do with students. In addition to being able to offer ”just in time” supports to seniors throughout their high school journey, I am uniquely positioned to provide the time, space and support needed to help build a team of champion teachers dedicated to providing a guiding vision for the school, professional development and coaching for their peers and model innovative practices designed to bring teaching and learning to the next level. East Tech’s teacher leadership team, called Titan Future Focus, is founded on the idea that many of the best practitioners in our profession are right here with us, working in our classrooms with our students, and just need the time and support to share the amazing things they are doing with their teacher friends. In addition, this team has worked to build the annual guiding vision for teachers as well as key professional development opportunities throughout the year to help teachers take student engagement and results to new heights. Creating this team has been one of the most satisfying aspects of my career. I believe strongly that many schools struggle to utilize teacher leadership and empower teachers as building leaders. I have a deep passion to see this kind of leadership grow, and am a proud graduate of of the Teacher Leadership Academy and hope to continue to work with amazing organizations like LIoN to continue to model how leveraging building-level teacher leaders can improve climate, culture and create a pathway for truly powerful results for schools and communities. 

The Vision Continues

The job of the Achievement Coach is wholly vision-driven. It is vital that in this role I stay connected to the changes in college admissions, technical training, burgeoning industries in Nevada and beyond, new scholarships, staying connected to services for students who are DACAmented or without documentation, and so much more. I also need to stay connected to all of the frontiers of education – the latest trends and technology, most current expectations for teachers in CCSD and beyond, and stay grounded and keep others grounded in doing always and in all ways what we KNOW works. I am so grateful to the visionary leaders who helped create, shape, nurture and support this role. I have to give original credit to former East Tech principal, Glenda Goetting, who used our first allocation of Title I funds to create this position when she saw the landscape of education changing and saw the opportunity to better serve our seniors. And former East Tech Principal Darlin Delgado’s visionary support helped grow this role into one that serves both juniors and seniors, and provides the space, time, energy and support to build and cultivate some truly amazing teacher leaders. It is my hope to see roles like mine continue to grow so every school can break down barriers in order to build trajectory-changing opportunities for teachers and students.

Jayme Rawson
Achievement Coach
East Career and Technical Academy
Teacher Leadership Academy, Cohort 2A